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USAF Thunderbird comes home to Anchorage

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: Jared Mazurek - 10:56 PM July 26, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Nearly a quarter million people are expected to pass through Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson for the Arctic Thunder air show this weekend.

It’s a chance see close up what planes can do.

“We always attend the air show, but this one is a little more special because he is here,” said Anchorage resident Eb Pope.

Pope is talking about his son technical Sgt. David Dukette.

“It’s like, hey, are excited to go home? Yes, I’m excited to go home! This was a big deal for us to come here,” Dukette said.

He joined the Air Force in 2000. As he was heading out to boot camp he said goodbye to his parents and made them a promise that someday he was going to be one of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. That’s exactly what he’s done.

“I look at him in his uniform and I think ‘wow, he really did it,’” said his mother Lorie Pope.

Dukette works in maintenance support for the Thunderbirds. While pilots push the jets to the limit, he’s the one making sure the aircraft is ready to go.

This is the first time the job has brought him home to Anchorage.

“I get to show my friends and family what it is I do,” Dukette said. “My parents are very proud and they love me doing this.”

But he does this for his country. By being a Thunderbird he hopes to give the public a glimpse into the sacrifice that the men and women in the military make for them.

Dukette is not the only Thunderbird from Alaska. There’s also technical Sgt. Amanda Geray, who is a line chief from North Pole.

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