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Air Force Medical Service - History & Heritage

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Army Air Forces Medical Services in World War II
by
James S. Nanney, Ph.D.
Historian
Office of the Air Force Surgeon General
 
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. Read More

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

by
David R. Jones & Leroy P. Gross
 
Most active duty United States 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 1 July 1949. Approximately a thousand Tuskegee-trained pilots and seventeen flight surgeons served together at bases in the U.S. Read More

Cutting the Umbilical Cord: The USAF Medical Service Achieves Independence
by
George M. Watson, Jr., Ph.D.
 
The orders that established the USAF medical Service 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 wer the problems encountered by Army Air Forces (AAF) medical personnel in their efforts to free themselves from the technical grasp of the Army? Read More
 
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 Surgeon General, USAF
 
This is a preliminary study of the activities of the USAF Medical Service in the Korean War (1950-1953). The material is organized by topics. Chapter 1 portrays the strength of the Medical Service at the outbreak. Chapter II describes the personnel expansion which followed. Chapter III shows how medical treatment facilities also grew, and how important aeromedical evacuation was to the United Nations forces. Chapter IV deals with the supply of blood and blood derivatives. Chapter V 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. Especial acknowledgements are owing the Archives Branch, USAF Historical Division, Research Studies Institute, Air University, for organizing and lending to the Office of the Surgeon General an indispensable collection of unit histories from Far East Air Forces for use in this inquiry. Read More
 
Medics in 'the Nam'
by
James Nanney, Ph. D.
Historian
Office of the Air Force Surgeon General
 
Twenty years after the fall of Saigon-May 1975---it is appropriate to assess the effect of the Vietnam War on the Air Force Medical Service.
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 (almost 20 percent of Air Force physicians on duty). In Vietnam itself, about 110 Air Force physicians were on duty in the 7th Air Force medical service at the peak of the fighting in 1968. Read More 

The Air Force Medical Service and the Gulf War: A Ten-Year Retrospective
by
James S. Nanney, Ph.D.
Historian
Office of the Air Force Surgeon General
 
Editor's Note: 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. (It's quite lengthy so you might consider printing in order to read more easily.) Read More
 
The Air Force Medical Service in Operations Allied Force and Shining Hope
by
James S. Nanney, Ph.D.
Historian
Office of the Air Force Surgeon General
 
Two operations in the spring of 1999 marked the first large-scale deployment of Air Force Medical Service (AFMS) contingency units that had been reengineered in the 1990s, based on lessons of the Persian Gulf War. From March to late June 1999, USAFE 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. Read More