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Doug Hamburger's oldest son had been in Afghanistan for less than two weeks when his Chinook was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Patrick Hamburger, 30 -- a Lincoln Southeast graduate and Nebraska National Guard flight engineer who loved working on helicopters -- died Aug. 6, 2011, along with 29 other Americans and eight Afghans.

His father lives in Tennessee now, but he was back in Nebraska this week.

Doug and his wife, Shaune, were guests at a banquet for Gold Star families in Omaha -- followed by a ballgame at TD Ameritrade Park, military jets flying over in an airborne salute.

They drove to Lincoln for a barbecue with Pat's family -- his daughter Payton, 4, and her mom, Candie Reagan, and daughter Veronica.

Then back to Omaha for a niece’s graduation.

They'll get in the car again Wednesday. To St. Louis to see Pat's younger brother Chris. Back to Knoxville for the second annual Pat Hamburger Memorial Dinner and Dance on Friday -- the day before Pat's birthday -- with all the money going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

It's been a busy month for the father who works 60-hour weeks as a district manager for the Walgreen Company.

Two weeks ago, Doug and Shaune went to Washington to ask the government to open a congressional investigation into the attack that killed Pat.

“We don't want to make it sound like we're a part of a big conspiracy theory. There are people out there who want to make it sound that way -- we just want answers.”

The need for those answers began two months after the crash, Hamburger said, after the military presented the results of its investigation -- a 1,250-page document -- to parents and spouses of the fallen troops at the Navy Seal compound in Little Creek, Va.

“There was just a few of us parents who looked at this and said, ‘This just doesn't add up.’”

Hamburger and his wife stayed in touch with those parents, and their questions helped lead to the May 9 news conference at the National Press Club, where Hamburger spoke about publicity surrounding the Navy SEAL Team 6 that carried out the operation against Osama bin Laden in spring 2011.

“We're very concerned that the administration had disclosed the Navy SEALs had carried out a successful attack on bin Laden's compound resulting in his death,” Hamburger said May 9. “We really feel that this put our guys in an unnecessary risk.”

Seventeen members of SEAL Team 6 were on his son's flight.

“Quite frankly, anything we do is not going to bring our sons back," he said this week. “So our goal is to keep other soldiers safe moving forward.”

Hamburger and the other parents are calling for changes in the rules of engagement that they say did not allow the Apache helicopters accompanying the Chinook to return fire.

"We want to know why nobody knew that the seven Afghans on the manifest were not the same seven on the Chinook," Hamburger said. "They never recovered the black box from the Chinook; where did it go?

"We're not on a witch hunt, we just want some questions answered."

Since the new conference, he and Shaune have been overwhelmed by support from members of the military, Hamburger said.

A week ago, their phone rang in Knoxville. The wife of a soldier training with his unit at Fort Benning, Ala., was on the line.

Her husband had asked her to call.

“He told her, 'I think the Hamburgers live in Tennessee. Can you call them and say thank you from us?’”

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Reach Cindy Lange-Kubick at 402-473-7218 or clangekubick@journalstar.com.

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Columnist

Cindy Lange-Kubick joined the Lincoln Journal Star in 1994 and has loved covering life in her hometown ever since. Will write for chocolate. Or coffee.

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