A Navy pilot from Tullahoma was one of three people who perished when an EA-6B Navy Prowler crashed during a training exercise in Washington state Monday.
Lt. Cmdr. Alan Patterson, 34, grew up in Tullahoma and attended Web school. His parents are doctors in Tullahoma.
Phillip Patterson Sr., the pilot's father, said whenever there was a crash, his son would call to let his family know he was OK. He didn't call Monday, and no one could reach him.
"Alan did not check in with us, and that's when we began to worry," his father said.
His father said Alan knew in the sixth grade, after seeing midshipmen in uniform, that he wanted to attend the Naval Academy, and he did.
"He was ambitious, like going to the Naval Academy. When he had a goal, he didn't want anything standing in his way," Phillip Patterson Sr. said.
Alan Patterson was also a cellist, a Lacrosse player, a downhill ski racer and a tri-athlete. "Can't" was a word he didn't use, according to his older brother, Phillip.
"If someone said, 'You can't do it,' he said, 'No, there is a way,'" Phillip Patterson Jr. said.
Alan Patterson leaves behind a wife and two daughters, ages 13 and 10 months.
Besides his parents, he also leaves five brothers and sisters.
His younger brother, Craig, said he always followed in his older brother's footsteps. Craig followed Alan to the Naval Academy two years later.
"We were very fortunate to spend a lot of time at the academy together," he said.
By coincidence, the two were briefly stationed together in Iraq on the same aircraft carrier.
"That was awesome, because it's something that only I get to share with him," Craig Patterson said.
Craig will remember his brother as an inspiration to others, a man who volunteered for more than his share of the work and a man who never stepped on anyone else to get ahead.
"He was the kind of guy you hope you become and you hope your sons become," he said.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
There will be a memorial for all three aviators who died in the crash on March 19 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, WA.
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