CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Port Hueneme, Calif. --
The 146th Operations Group (146 OG) welcomed California Air National Guard Col. Christopher Dougherty as their incoming commander, during a assumption of command ceremony held at the 146th Airlift Wing, February 8, 2020.
Standing alongside California Air National Guard Col. Keith Ward, Commander 146th Airlift Wing, Dougherty assumed command in front of a large audience including family and friends, inside the wing’s auditorium to celebrate the occasion.
Prior to assuming command of the group and his arrival at Channel Islands, Dougherty graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996 before attending pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Shortly after he attended secondary pilot training in Corpus Christi, Texas before arriving to Little Rock, Arkansas to complete C-130E training in 1998.
After completing his training at Little Rock, Dougherty arrived at his first duty station in Japan at Yokota Air Base, where he flew the C-130E aircraft for four years until arriving at his final duty station during his active duty career, flying the same aircraft at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.
With his service commitment ending in 2006, Dougherty joined the Delaware Air National Guard in order to continue his passion flying as a C-130 pilot while pursuing a career as an airline pilot for Jet Blue. Soon after Dougherty would meet the love of his life, Leanne, and soon moved to California, where he would join the 146th Airlift Wing (146 AW) and learned to fly C-130J aircraft.
Dougherty’s accomplished career as a C-130J pilot for the 115th Airlift Squadron (115 AS) would eventually lead him to the position of Director of Operations (DO) in 2013, where he oversaw the organization, training, equipment, and man-power management for the 115 AS.
Overseeing the day-to-day operations for the squadron, Dougherty was heavily immersed with the training and operational execution of the aircrews underneath him. Often times, as a full-time Operations Officer to a part time Squadron Commander, he simultaneously provided a heavy balance of administrative and logistical support for over 72 personnel.
Serving as the Director of Operations, Dougherty’s main focus was ensuring effective flying operations within the squadron.
“The Director of Operations is like the heartbeat of our flying operations, utilizing quality (crew resource management,) ensuring the right crew complement, and organizing, training, and equipping our aircrews with what they need in order to fulfill the mission. I believe you have to take care of your folks, so they can take care of the mission” said Dougherty.
After serving as the Director of Operations in 2016, Lt. Col. Dougherty assumed command of the 115 AS. As he transitioned into his new role as a commander, he was excited to utilize his experience to help positively impact the lives of those under his command.
As the newly incoming Group Commander, Dougherty now actively pushes his group to maintain the same priorities he’s set since his days as the Director of Operations, rooted in a deep sense of taking care of family and putting the mission first.
“I like to instill a sense of family in people. Anyone who works with me knows family is important to me and I think serving in the California Air National Guard gives you an extra sense of family, within our wing and at home. It’s a sense of belonging, of comradery, which works to our advantage when we deploy both downrange or provide support to civil services. We use that bond as a family to work together towards our common goal,” said Dougherty.
California Air National Guard Col. Keith Chikasawa, Vice Commander of the 146th Airlift Wing and previous 146 OG Commander, has witnessed firsthand Dougherty’s advocacy for creating strong family bonds, airmen cohesiveness and mission oriented focus and believes he was the best choice for the position.
“He’s was definitely the right guy for the job. He’s always been about the airmen, their well-being and the mission. I could always confidently depend on his critical decision making and his immaculate attention to detail in everything he did while I was the Operations Group Commander. His priorities are always in the right order and I just can’t say enough good things about him and I’m excited for him,” said Chikasawa.
Dougherty, who is also very excited about his new position credits his wife and mother for the motivation and strength that has gotten him to reach this point in his military career, who he personally thanked during the ceremony.
“Without the support of my mother who raised me as a single mother growing up in New York City and my wife Leanne, I simply would not be where I am today. My wife is a true patriot and she’s also my best friend and a pillar of support for my military career. I’m so grateful to have them both stand by me then and now in my life,” said Dougherty.
As the ceremony came to a close, Dougherty gave one last parting remark of assurance to all of his guard family in attendance now as a Commander.
“Don’t worry about the small stuff, leave it up to me, and focus on the mission. The rest will take care of itself,” said Dougherty.