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A Legacy of Excellence since 1949

For 75 years, medical Airmen have provided reliable access to safe, quality care at U.S. Air Force and Space Force installations, and in deployed locations around the world.

With the celebration of the AFMS's 75th Anniversary, medical Airmen continue to support the U.S. Air Force and Space Force through modernization, building and maintaining partnerships, and the honoring of history and heritage. Our mission is to ensure medically fit forces, provide expeditionary medics, and improve the health of all we serve to meet our nation’s needs.

This page serves as a curated destination for honoring the past 75 years of medical Airmen superiority.

  “A medical service for the Air Forces, if it is to meet its primary objective of preparing for war, must become identified with the parent organization. Its personnel must have special training and special type units and, in many instances, special equipment.  Its thinking must be geared to that of the Air Forces, not only in relation to speed but in relation to tactics and strategy. An adequate Air Force medical service must have flexibility, mobility, and its organizations and equipment must be fitted into airplanes. The state of training and the level of experience of the Air Force and of its auxiliary services on M-day may represent the decisive factor in a future war.”

- Maj. Gen. Malcolm C. Grow, in a testimony given to the Senate Committee on Armed Services in 1947


  Part of the AFMS's legacy of excellence is the ability to modernize for current and future challenges. From innovative aeromedical evacuation capabilities to improved targeted training, the AFMS has continuously developed new solutions to improve health care throughout the Air Force, while also pushing the boundaries of what is possible to save lives and return members to the fight.


  The AFMS has partnered with organization across the DoD, the federal government, Congress, and civilian facilities throughout its history. Medical Airmen have delivered unparalleled care to the joint fight, they have worked around the globe engaging in subject matter expert exchanges with partner and allied nations, and they have been integrated at staff as premier medical hospitals and schools.

History & Heritage

  Since 1949, AFMS has revolutionized readiness efforts and broken records to save more lives around the world, while also shaping industry standards and advancing care in the face of evolving challenges. The AFMS has thrived under pressure to be agile and responsive to ever-changing and ever-growing readiness demands, and since the fight never stops, the AFMS never stops setting the standard.

  “There are so many exciting opportunities available in Air Force Medicine. My career was so rewarding because I was willing to try new things and take on new responsibilities when I had the chance. Never lose sight of the fact that you are medics in the world’s greatest Air Force.”

- Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger, 22nd Surgeon General, in 2018

Learn more about Air Force Medical Service History

The History of Aeromedical Evacuation
Air Force Medical Service
Video by Courtesy
Jan. 2, 2019 | 3:02
Achievements in aerospace medical capabilities and advances in aeromedical evacuation have transformed the Air Force Medical Service into a world-class operation for service members ill or injured in wartime. See the major milestones throughout the evolution of aeromedical evacuation and the impact each has made in advancing wartime medicine and caring for patients. More

The Air Force Medical Service 1949-2024: A Commemorative History

by James S. Nanney, Ph.D. and Joseph R. Frechette, Ph.D.

In 1999, Dr. James Nanney, the Air Force Medical Service Historian, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the AFMS by outlining its major medical programs and activities. While much has changed over the last two and a half decades, Nanney’s list remains remarkably current and comprehensive: Aerospace medicine and flight surgeons, selection and training of personnel, human factors research and development, community healthcare and preventive services, medical education and basic medical research, and aeromedical evacuation.

Although the specifics of each of these activities has evolved, and, in some cases, their organizational and geographic loci have shifted, they all remain part of the AFMS mission set in some form or fashion, whether under the aegis of the Air Force itself, or the Defense Health Agency. As Nanney noted, all of these activities stem from the basic warfighting mission to support Air Force combat units.

In other words, the AFMS commitment to wartime readiness has been a constant throughout its history.

Army Air Forces Medical Services in World War II

by James S. Nanney, Ph.D.

This history summarizes the Army Air Forces (AAF) medical achievements that led to the creation of the Air Force Medical Service in July 1949. When the United States entered World War II, our nation’s small aviation force belonged to the U.S. Army and relied on the Army medical system for support. The rapid expansion of the AAF and the medical challenges of improved aircraft performance soon placed great strain on the ground-oriented Army medical system. By the end of the war, the AAF had successfully acquired its own medical system oriented to the special needs of air warfare.

This accomplishment reflected the determined leadership of AAF medical leaders and the dedication of thousands of medical practitioners who volunteered for aviation medical responsibilities that were often undefined or unfamiliar to them. In the face of new challenges, many American medics responded with hard work and intelligence that contributed greatly to Allied air superiority.

Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Edgar R. Anderson, Jr., USAF, MC, Ret.
U.S. Air Force Surgeon General (September 1994-November 1996)