You might expect with a job like Sean Dowdy’s that he’d be a basket case, jumpier than Barney Fife after a double espresso. But the Air Force captain appears as relaxed and laid back as Sheriff Andy. Could it be just a clever facade? Maybe, especially when you consider Dowdy’s unpredictable mission.

One minute, he might be buzzing around his unit’s kitchen, baking up a batch of his famous chocolate brownies, and the next, he’s scrambling into the skies in an F-15 fighter, intercepting a “bogey” zeroing in on our shores. Such is the life of a Florida Air National Guard alert pilot. Full of doubt, danger and desserts left half-baked.

When the klaxon sounds, Dowdy’s a chameleon, quickly ditching his domestic side and transforming into a snarling warrior. He is the first and last line of defense against intruders threatening American soil, flying into harm’s way to protect his country and its citizens. Plus, the man makes one mean brownie.


by Master Sgt. Pat McKenna
photos by Master Sgt. Dave Nolan