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Thomas Tredici’s dual oaths, extensive service make him fitting USAFSAM exemplar

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Before he was a renowned ophthalmologist, even before he attended medical school, Col. (Dr.) Thomas J. Tredici was a bomber pilot in World War II, flying 20 combat missions over Germany between November 1944 and June 1945.

Influenced by his interactions with flight surgeons, Tredici went to college and then immediately entered medical school. He specialized in ophthalmology, recalling that frostbite and ocular trauma were the most common injuries sustained when an aircraft came under fire. After several years in the field, in 1964, Tredici’s reputation and experience led him to an instructor position at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine -- now part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing here, but then located at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and sent to Vietnam in 1965.

When Tredici returned, he was made chief of USAFSAM’s ophthalmology division and promoted to colonel. He published a paper about his medical experience in Vietnam and continued to publish and lecture extensively during his tenure.

After 30 years of military service, Tredici retired in 1982 at the age of 59. The very next day, however, he was recalled to active duty. In 1987, when he was forced to retire at age 65, Tredici became the last World War II pilot to retire from Air Force active duty. He returned to USAFSAM’s Aerospace Ophthalmology Branch, where he worked at a senior civilian scientist for almost 25 years, retiring for good in 2011.

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.