Col. Joseph M. Dougherty, 80, of Lexington, who had a noteworthy career in the Air Force, died Sunday after a long battle with brain cancer.
Col. Dougherty, a native of Glasgow, was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
His children said he entered the Air Force because of his passion for flying.
His son Dr. Mark Dougherty said his father "could recognize any airplane just by listening to the sound of the engine."
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Col. Dougherty earned a master's degree in English from Vanderbilt University and taught English at the Air Force Academy. In 1966, when he and other faculty members saw that their former students were being assigned to combat duty in Vietnam, they volunteered to serve too.
While flying C-123s with the Ranch Hand squadron in Vietnam, Col. Dougherty was spraying Agent Orange over the jungle when his plane was shot down and crash-landed on top of an underground Viet Cong field hospital on Oct. 31, 1966, Mark Dougherty said.
Mark Dougherty said his father recounted being rescued by a helicopter that lowered a chair into the jungle. Col. Dougherty was awarded the Purple Heart for his service.
He went on to serve with the NATO staff in Germany and complete an assignment at the Pentagon before returning to Kentucky to lead the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Kentucky from 1977 to 1980.
After he retired, Col. Dougherty bought a Cessna and in 1999 achieved his goal of touching down in each of the 48 contiguous states in five days, 11 hours and five minutes.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley Smith Dougherty, and four children.
Services will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church, where Col. Dougherty was a founding member. Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the church.
Milward Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.