Air Force Master Sgt. Derek A. Allen has traveled all over the world.
But his military path has never brought the Hoban grad back to Northeast Ohio until now.
Allen, who has been in the service since he graduated in 2004, is charged with making sure the Air Combat Command’s A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team is flight-ready as it makes its way to air shows and special flights across the country such as this weekend's Cleveland National Air Show that runs through Monday at Burke Lakefront Airport.
He said it is a rare thrill to be able to show his parents, Melissa Allen, who works for the Summit County Fiscal Office, and Chuck Allen, who works for Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, what he does on a daily basis.
In addition to overseeing the team that maintains the combat aircraft, Allen is also the narrator at air shows explaining the aircraft's capabilities as it snakes its way across the sky.
Another Allen family homecoming made news in 2012 when he crossed paths with his brother Greg, who joined the Army in 2009 after graduating from Hoban, in war-torn Afghanistan.
It seems Derek Allen was preparing an A-10 Thunderbolt for a mission and had no idea it was being sent to offer air support for his brother's 101st Army Airborne unit that was involved in a firefight some 50 miles away.
Allen said he is proud to be part of a rich tradition of Ohioans who have joined the service.
"It's humbling to represent the state of Ohio," he said.
While in the area, Allen said, he was able to visit his old school and meet with and talk with Hoban students about his military career.
He was also able to check out his old stomping grounds in North Hill, stop for a bite to eat at Bob Evans and, of course, grab some Swensons.
Allen, 33, said he always orders his usual: a Galley Boy and a peanut butter milkshake.
"Are you really from Northeast Ohio if you don't like Swensons?" he said.
He is married to Ercilia Allen. The couple, who have three children, live in Arizona.
Working with the traveling demonstration squad, Allen said, has been a lot of fun. He recently got to attend the Indy 500 after the plane did a flyover.
He even went to a recent Super Bowl after another flyover.
"You can't beat working on airplanes and serving your country," Allen said. "This never gets old. I'm still having fun."
Craig Webb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.