12/16/11 — New 4FW commander named

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New 4FW commander named

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 16, 2011 1:55 PM

Col. Jeannie Leavitt is no stranger to breaking barriers.

She was the first American woman to enter combat training as a fighter pilot -- and the first to reach mission-qualified status.

She was the first woman to graduate from the United States Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base.

And she was the first woman to serve as an F-15E Strike Eagle instructor pilot.

So those who know her are likely not all that surprised that early this morning, the colonel became the first female to receive news that she would be the next 4th Fighter Wing commander.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base officials confirmed a few hours ago that Leavitt, a former 333rd Fighter Squadron Commander, has been tapped to replace Col. Patrick Doherty next year.

And when she accepts the guidon from whomever facilitates the change of command, she will become the first female to lead a wing that traces its heritage back to World War II.

Leavitt, to date, has logged more than 2,000 flight hours in the F-15E -- 200-plus of them in combat -- and is currently stationed at the Pentagon.

But the man she is set to replace is accomplished in his own right.

Doherty took command of the 4th in April 2010 after serving, for a brief time, as the wing's vice commander, and in the nearly two years since, his plate has been quite full.

He has sent hundreds of airmen to Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond and saw the 4th embark on the first six-month Air Expeditionary Force tour in Air Force history.

At home, his Strike Eagle crews provided air support for historic space shuttle launches, his base welcomed distinguished visitors including then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his wing added to its storied legacy by being awarded the first-ever James H. Doolittle Award.

No date has yet been set for the official change of command, but for the latest developments, as they unfold, follow the News-Argus in print and at www.NewsArgus.com