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USAFSAM’s centennial celebration still going strong

Brig. Gen. (ret) Eugen Reinartz

Brig. Gen. (ret) Eugen Reinartz

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Mid-way through its centennial year, the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing here, is still celebrating.

On June 21, USAFSAM hosted an Air Force Medical Service Appreciation Extravaganza to celebrate the AFMS contribution to air power over the last century. The two entities have a long relationship, dating back to the creation of the AFMS in July 1949. Today the AFMS is comprised of the Medical Corps, Nurse Corps, Biomedical Services Corps, Medical Service Corps, Dental Corps, and an enlisted component. The Extravaganza featured briefings from all but the Dental Corps, as well as a USAFSAM tour that discussed the history of each medical career field and their current contributions to the mission.

The goal of the AFMS is to provide trusted care anywhere and, according to their website, they embrace their “heritage of innovation and relentlessly pursue advances to enhance the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of the care ... and support” they provide both beneficiaries and Combatant Commanders. USAFSAM supports that goal of optimizing Airmen’s health and performance through world-class education, expert consultation, and operationally focused research.

Though he retired before the AFMS existed and, in fact, before the establishment of the Air Force as an independent service, one of the early pioneers of aviation medicine and delivering trusted care was Brig. Gen. Eugen Reinartz.

Reinartz was commissioned in the Army Medical Corps in 1917. He held various surgical posts until August 1920, when he went to Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, to study for a few months at the Medical Research Laboratory -- the organization that evolved into the School of Aviation Medicine and eventually became what is now USAFSAM. Indeed, more than a decade later, in November 1931, Reinartz was assigned to the School of Aviation Medicine as the director of the Department of Neuropsychiatry. He later had a teaching stint at the School, as well. After serving in several senior surgeon positions, Reinartz returned once more to the School of Aviation Medicine, where he would conclude his military career as the School’s commandant. Even after retirement, though, Reinartz continued to engage with the mission of advancing aviation medicine, serving as president of the Aerospace Medical Association in 1945 and 1945.

To mark a century of operation, USAFSAM will celebrate throughout 2018. The year will include special heritage events as well as a monthly article highlighting a key “exemplar” from the School’s rich history.