Maj. Patrick Kerr ('90) with Task Force Lightning
By Katie O'Dowd (’07)
Maj. Patrick Kerr ('90) [center] and his team bring democracy to the Afghani airwaves.
Having grown up the son of a U.S. Air Force service member, it was only natural that Maj. Patrick L. Kerr ('90) would follow in his father's footsteps.
Kerr recently served a tour in Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, as a part of Combined/Joint Task Force 76 for Operation Enduring Freedom VI.
He is the operations officer and executive officer for Task Force Lightning based out of Mannheim, Germany, a position that Kerr describes as "very demanding, but extremely rewarding."
Kerr's task force was responsible for a number of projects throughout Afghanistan. "I assisted with the process of ending terror for the people of Afghanistan," he says. "Our unit conducted regular humanitarian assistance visits in Bagram area villages, bringing the villagers clothes, shoes and school supplies. The Afghan children want to touch and speak with you."
In addition to humanitarian efforts, Kerr's unit provided 24/7 communications support to U.S. Joint Forces in Afghanistan and helped train Army soldiers, Navy sailors and Air Force members on communications technology. They provided support to the Joint Election Management Board during the September 2005 national election process and deployed a communications team to Pakistan to assist with earthquake recovery. His unit also installed, operated and maintained "mobile tactical FM radio teams" that spread election and civic information to the public.
"Because of our teams, the people of Afghanistan have been able to hear the democratic and economic progress that has been made nationwide," Kerr adds.
Kerr has been deployed to Somalia, Kuwait and Bosnia during his 15-year Army career. He has been stationed in Belgium and Germany, where his family currently lives. In the United States, Kerr has lived in Augusta, Ga., Colorado Springs, Colo., Leavenworth, Kan., and Washington, D.C.
The business administration major is also a JMU ROTC graduate. He earned a three-year ROTC scholarship and decided to stay with the Army even after he had completed his eight-year obligation.
Kerr says the hardest part about working in Afghanistan was being away from his wife, Wendy ('89) and their two children, 6-year-old Noelle and 4-year-old Peter. He says he looked forward to walking his children to school and sharing a glass of favorite German wine with his wife when he returned home.
After taking leave in Germany, Kerr and his wife hope to get the chance to fly to their next duty assignment and look for houses to buy or rent.
Kerr, who earned his MBA from Webster University in 2003, says he wants to become a deputy city manager for a small city or enter the golf business after the Army.