Graduate from Hill Country – check.

Travel the world and fly over 3,000 hours in nine different aircraft (including the F-16, C-17, and AC-130W) – check.

Brief multiple four-star generals on tactics, techniques, and procedures – check.

Receive Top Flyer, Top Paper, and Distinguished Graduate awards from the United States Air Force Weapons School – check.

From the number of missions he’s flown and variety of planes he’s piloted to the counsel he’s shared with generals and congressional decision-makers, Major Will “Doc” Dowd, United States Air Force, might seem like a fictional character from a Tom Clancy novel. While his accomplishments are far from fiction, his career in the Air Force has taken him places and given him experiences that most can’t fully comprehend.

Major Dowd, now Chief of Strategic Capabilities and Innovation for the United States Air Force, has been an officer in the USAF for more than a decade. He has lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Japan, Washington, and currently resides in Hawaii with his wife Jenn and daughters Hailey and Claire. “Okinawa was probably my favorite place to live,” says Dowd. “Rich culture, amazing food, and crystal clear water for diving and snorkeling. It was a place steeped in history, both militarily and culturally, not to mention a place of immense strategic importance to both the United States, Japan, and Korea. Spokane, Washington, is a gorgeous town, and my family fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Winter skiing, hiking, fishing, and hunting were all accessible within about a 30-minute drive. Now I live in Hawaii, which is obviously an amazing place, and a great location to raise a family.”

After graduating from Hill Country in 2003, Major Dowd attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in English and Composition degree, followed by a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Business Development from Oklahoma State University. “College was busy,” says Dowd. “Between being a full-time student, working full time, and doing Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), I didn’t have time for frivolities. However, I felt prepared because I knew how to prioritize my time. Hill Country always kept me busy (which was good!), so I adapted quite well to a stressful college life. Coach Horne took me under his wing as I pursued scholarships to the Air Force Academy and ROTC at UT (I received both), and I’ll never forget his mentorship, leadership, and encouragement that enabled me to lead a (so far) entertaining and fulfilling career in the Armed Forces.”

Before reaching a seemingly-endless number of milestones, Major Dowd was preparing for a life of accomplishment with the help of teachers and coaches such as Mr. Baptiste, Mr. Horne, and Mrs. Jackson. “Hill Country prepared me for a life that has surprisingly involved a large amount of studying, writing, briefing, and instructing,” says Dowd. “Between learning how to operate and maintain five different aircraft, attending both Undergraduate Pilot Training and Weapons School as well as instructing at both, academics have always been a large part of my career. I have always felt secure in my study habits to pass countless exams, prepare briefings for military and congressional decision makers, and [learn] from foreign partners and allies. 

Major Dowd has also achieved Subject Matter Expert for man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and has briefed numerous NATO allies and American units on the capabilities and countertactics. In his role as Chief of Strategic Capabilities and Innovation, Dowd helps develop future capabilities by working with industry partners to protect and defend United States territories, troops, interests, and allies.