Chief Dougherty to become Kirtland's new CCC

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
For most Airmen, reaching the rank of chief master sergeant is the pinnacle of an enlisted career. But for a select few, special duties can propel their careers to an even higher stature. For one D-M Airman, this next step in his career comes from the same place that he took his first.

Chief Master Sgt. John Dougherty, 355th Mission Support Group superintendent, has been named the new command chief master sergeant of Kirtland AFB, N.M., which just happens to have been his first duty station.

"Kirtland was where it all began," Dougherty said. "It was where I made Senior Airman below the zone, where I learned the importance of involvement, both in the community and on base. I learned a lot while at Kirkland and I'm looking forward to returning."

It was also the place that convinced Chief Dougherty to make the Air Force a career. The weighty decision came on the heels of a life-changing event.

Airman 1st Class John Dougherty was on his way to work when another driver ran a red-light and smashed into the side of his vehicle. The impact happened with a great deal of force and left Dougherty seriously injured.

"The accident had broken my neck," Dougherty said. "I had injuries very similar to those of Christopher Reeves. The difference between me and him is that I walked again."

On that fateful day, two Kirtland pararescuemen were two cars behind Dougherty. After witnessing the accident they rushed to him and immediately began emergency care.

"I am convinced that those two PJs are a major reason that I am walking today," Dougherty said. "Their actions and the phenomenal treatment that I received from the Air Force afterward influenced me to make this a career. The Air Force took such good care of me that I felt I needed to find a way to pay them back."

He has been doing just that for about 27 years now, most of his time spent in the Personnel career field. He has been stationed at numerous bases, including Australia. He arrived at D-M, his eighth base, in 2008. It was D-M that saw his transition from Personnel Airman to superintendent, his first turn being with the 355th Force Support Squadron.

"In the FSS, I managed a lot of people-oriented programs and that taught me about the power of taking care of others," Dougherty said. "I love to be able to make someone's day by solving an issue for them. I think overseeing programs centered around helping people has expanded my tool box of problem-solving skills and honed my communication skills, allowing me to interact with any person, regardless of military or civilian status. I'm excited to transfer those skills to Team Kirkland"

In his new position as Command Chief, Chief Dougherty hopes to positively impact Team Kirkland and leave it someday stronger than he found it.

"I am excited to lead Airmen and to be a part of whatever carries them from their current state of excellence to that next level of excellence," Dougherty said. "I want to rally our mission partners and advance the professional growth of the Kirkland Airmen."