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NH Air National Guard Commander killed in hit-and-run incident

Brig. Gen. John Pogorek, New Hampshire National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Air, poses for an official portrait June 21, 2022 at Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire. Pogorek took command during the 157th Air Refueling Wing change of command ceremony June 4, 2022. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson)
Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson/157th Air Refueling Wing
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Brig. Gen. John Pogorek, New Hampshire National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Air, poses for an official portrait June 21, 2022 at Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire.

The commander of the New Hampshire Air National Guard was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Rochester on Monday night.

Brig. Gen. John W. “Pogo” Pogorek died when an SUV struck him on the side of Crown Point Road, where he had stopped to secure a load on his trailer, according to Rochester police. Police have since located the vehicle and 81-year-old driver involved in the incident. However, police have not yet made any arrests.

Pogorek was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Rochester police. He was 57 years old. A juvenile passenger was also in Pogorek’s vehicle during the incident, but police said that person did not sustain any injuries.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the New Hampshire National Guard called Pogorek one of their “finest airmen and leaders.” New Hampshire Adjutant General David Mikolaities praised Pogorek as “an exemplary wingman, mentor, and friend” — noting his professionalism and dedication in his service to the state and nation. Gov. Chris Sununu also expressed condolences to Pogorek’s family, saying his “commitment and contributions to the Granite State will never be forgotten.”

According to his biography, Pogorek graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1989 and joined the New Hampshire Air National Guard in 1999.

In the years since, he moved up the ranks to the commander role, and served as the top adviser to Mikolaities and Sununu on all matters related to the New Hampshire Air National Guard, including commands and operations at the 157th Air Refueling Wing and Pease Air National Guard Base.

Over his 31 years with the U.S. Air Force and New Hampshire Air National Guard, Pogorek was also a pilot and accrued more than 6,300 flying hours.

Pogorek is survived by his wife, Whitney Pogorek, and their five children.

Sadaf Tokhi is a rising senior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she is studying journalism and sociology. She's written for the school's newspaper, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, and has reported for the campus radio station, WMUA 91.1.

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