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Graphic of Air Force Medical Service History & Heritage


Books & Articles

Please contact the Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs Office and specify the publication you are interested in receiving. A .pdf version will be provided.

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A Fit, Fighting Force: The Air Force Nursing Services Chronology

Col. Mary C. Smolenski, Ph.D., USAFR, NC (Ret.), Maj. Donald G. Smith, Jr., Ph.D., USAFR, NC, and James S. Nanney, Ph.D., Historian, Office of the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General

Many significant events have occurred during the 55 years of Air Force nursing the Nurse Corps, and enlisted nursing technicians have made many valuable contributions to the Air Force in terms of leadership, health prevention and promotion, readiness, personnel and resource management, and integration of technology and research into nursing care. During the decades documented in this chronology, Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard nurses worked side by side, leading to the formal recognition of the Total Nursing Force. This chronology was extracted from various historical documents.

The Air Force Medical Service and the Gulf War: A Ten-Year Retrospective

James S. Nanney, Ph.D., Historian, Office of the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General

The Persian Gulf War, which lasted from August 1990 through February 1991, required the deployment of thousands of Air Force Medical Service members, either to Europe or to Southwest Asia. In hindsight, the war was a checkpoint in a two-decade process of medical service readiness reengineering that began in 1979. This article summarizes the scope and meaning of the war, and presents the postwar reports and recollections of several key participants.

The Air Force Medical Service in Operations Allied Force and Shining Hope

James S. Nanney, Ph.D., Historian, Office of the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General

Two operations in the spring of 1999 marked the first large-scale deployment of AFMS contingency units that had been reengineered in the 1990s, with lessons learned from the Persian Gulf War. From March to late June 1999, the United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa was active in Operation ALLIED FORCE in Kosovo, and later the humanitarian operation, Operation SHINING HOPE, for ethnic Albanian refugees fleeing Kosovo to Albania and Macedonia.

Army Air Forces Medical Services in World War II

James S. Nanney, Ph.D., Historian, Office of the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General

This history summarizes the Army Air Forces medical achievements that led to the creation of the AFMS in July 1949. When the United States entered World War II, our nation's small aviation force belonged to the 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.

Cutting the Umbilical Cord: The USAF Medical Service Achieves Independence

George M. Watson, Jr., Ph.D.

The orders that established the AFMS in 1949 were a product of drawn out negotiations and compromises between the services, which began during World War II and continued after the Air Force attained independence in September 1947. What were some of the divergent views held by the services and their medical leadership? What were the problems encountered by AAF medical personnel in their efforts to free themselves from the technical grasp of the Army? This publication answers those questions.

Medics in 'the Nam'

James S. Nanney, Ph.D., Historian, Office of the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General

Even 20 years after the fall of Saigon in May 1975, it is still appropriate to assess the effect of the Vietnam War on the AFMS. The increased tempo of flying during the war years - officially dated 1961-1973 - caused a growth in the number of Air Force flight surgeons, from 550 in 1963 to more than 700 in 1971, which was almost 20 percent of Air Force physicians on duty. In Vietnam, about 110 Air Force physicians were on duty in the 7th Air Force medical service at the peak of the fighting in 1968.

United States Army Aeromedical Support to African American Fliers, 1941 - 1949: The Tuskegee Flight Surgeons

David R. Jones and Leroy P. Gross

Most active duty Air Force pilots and flight surgeons serve less than four years with one unit. Segregation policies in early 1941 required a few African American flight surgeons to support black student pilots at Tuskegee, Alabama, from cadet training in preflight ground school until graduation with pilot wings, then through fighter training, deployment to the Mediterranean Theater, combat operations, redeployment, peacetime service, and disbandment on July 1, 1949. Approximately 1,000 Tuskegee-trained pilots and 17 flight surgeons served together at U.S. bases.

USAF Medical Service in the Korean War (1950-1953)

Prepared by Howard Hazen Wilson, Ph.D., Office of the Special Assistant for Historical Affairs and Technical Information, Office of the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General

This is a preliminary study of the activities of the AFMS in the Korean War (1950-1953). Chapter one portrays the strength of the medical service at the outbreak. Chapter two describes the personnel expansion which followed. Chapter three shows how medical treatment facilities grew and how important aeromedical evacuation was to United Nations forces. Chapter four deals with the supply of blood and blood derivatives. Chapter five describes the professional, dental, and veterinary services that Far East Air Forces gave the troops. This study has no body of conclusions at its end, because research is not sufficiently advanced. More historical raw material exists, and this will be exploited in a later and fuller account.