USAFSAM Closes One Chapter, Begins Another

  • Published
  • By Elizabeth Long
  • 711th Human Performance Wing
The US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine took the final step in its transition to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in mid-February, decommissioning the Brooks-based school after 85 years in San Antonio. Nearly 600 people, including current and former students, faculty, and distinguished alumni, attended the ceremony in a celebration of the school's history, the achievements of the students, the lives that were saved because of the training received at the school, and the medical advancements made possible because of the experts within USAFSAM.

USAFSAM is relocating from Brooks City-Base to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as part of the nation's 2005 base realignment and closure (BRAC) decisions, and formally activated the new complex in June 2011. The school is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory's 711th Human Performance Wing.

In his address to the crowd, Colonel Charles Fisher, USAFSAM commander, recounted highlights of the school's history back to 1918, during the beginning of military aviation. He noted the school's first establishment at Brooks in 1926 and cited the nation's space race as a key turning point for the school and its heyday at Brooks.

After nearly two decades at Randolph AFB, the school relocated to a massive new complex at Brooks AFB. "The School of Aerospace Medicine's began teaching in the new Brooks facilities in 1959," Col. Fisher said. "And, in 1963, on his last day of life, President Kennedy dedicated the new Aeromedical center at Brooks, launching explosive growth in research and knowledge in space, aviation, environmental medicine, physiology, and biosciences over the next four decades. Brooks was the epicenter, where the action was for biomedical research and for Aeromedical training."

Chief Master Sergeant Joel Berry, USAFSAM superintendent, described personal contributions that members of USAFSAM have made to the Air Force and to the nation, thanking the enlisted team members who have been deployed into harm's way. He recounted the valor and integrity shown by team members and he encouraged continued service as the team moves to Wright-Patterson.

"Collectively, it is our duty to ensure that USAFSAM's foundation of commitment, dedication, education, and excellence is continued from this day forward, no matter the mission and no matter the location," Chief Berry said.

The ceremony was capped by the removal of the last insignia from the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks. As the hundreds of attendees spontaneously stood silently, Maj. Gen Travis and Dr. Thomas Tredici, one of the pioneers of Aerospace Medicine in the field of ophthalmology, helped lower the last remaining sign from the schoolhouse building. That sign, along with other memorabilia including a memorial to Lt. Col. Thomas Koritz, a graduate lost in combat; an intact time capsule; and the granite markers and logos for the school, were then given a send-off and dispatched to their new home in Ohio.

The mission of USAFSAM is to be first-call consultants in aerospace medicine, find solutions to operational needs of today and tomorrow, and prepare new aeromedical experts for future global challenges.