Dr. Peter Rhee, one of the doctors who saved the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is told by commander of the 355th Fighter Wing, Col. John Cherrey, that he will get to fly in an F-16 with the Air Force's Thunderbirds.


Dr. Peter Rhee, the trauma surgeon who treated Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head, has been selected as this year's Hometown Hero for the upcoming Thunder and Lightning over Arizona open house at Davis-Monthan Air Force.

Rhee will get to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet on Thursday.

He was chosen as the Hometown Hero for his heroism after the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson last year.

As the chief of trauma at University of Arizona Medical Center, Rhee oversaw the care and treatment of the Jan. 8 shooting victims, including Giffords.

Rhee treated several soldiers for battlefield injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan during his 24 years of service in the U.S. Navy.

At a press conference Friday, Rhee said flying on an F-16 has been something he's wanted to do since he was a child and saw pilots perform aerobatic tricks on TV.

"There's so many involved in the care of the people that are hurt in this town and in some senses I felt that I wasn't deserving to take the credit for all the work the team members have done," Rhee said. "But on the other hand after doing 24 years in the military I have gotten to travel quite extensively in about as many formats as you can imagine, but the one that has eluded me the entire time period has been on the F-16, and so the chance to be going up with the Thunderbirds on an F-16 is something I'm really going to cherish and enjoy."

The air show is April 14 and 15.

Contact Kori Rumore at krumore@azstarnet.com or 807-8428 and Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4224.