Celebration spotlights School of Air Evacuation’s 75th anniversary

Flight nurse and aeromedical technician course students care for a simulated patient during a simulated Aeromedical Evacuation mission aboard a C-130 mockup at the 711th Human Performance Wing’s United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Jan. 29. (U.S. Air Force photo/J.M. Eddins Jr.)
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Flight nurse and aeromedical technician course students care for a simulated patient during a simulated Aeromedical Evacuation mission aboard a C-130 mockup at the 711th Human Performance Wing’s United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Jan. 29. (U.S. Air Force photo/J.M. Eddins Jr.)

The School of Air Evacuation is celebrating its 75th anniversary Aug. 2 and 3 at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine.

“As part of USAFSAM’s centennial celebration, the two-day event will honor the past, present and future of aeromedical evacuation,” said Elizabeth Miller, Deputy Chair of the En Route Care Department. “Throughout event, we have a series of captivating guest speakers lined up to discuss various topics in regards to air evacuation.”

Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, United States Air Force surgeon general, will kick off the event and provide her perspective of Air Force Medical Service.

The 349th Air Evacuation Group was activated during World War II on Oct. 6, 1942, at Bowman Field, Kentucky. Directed by the war department, the 349th’s mission was to train flight surgeons, nurses and enlisted members for air evacuation duties aboard cargo carriers. On Feb. 18, 1943, the 349th graduated its first class of 30 nurses.

The graduates participated in a four-week program that included class work in air evacuation nursing, air evacuation tactics, survival, aeromedical physiology, mental hygiene in relation to flying, training in plane loading procedures, military indoctrination and a one-day bivouac.

On June 25, 1943, the name “School of Air Evacuation” was officially recognized by the Army Air Force. In 1944, the School of Air Evacuation was transferred to be part of the School of Aviation Medicine located at Brooks AFB, Texas, and then relocated to Wright-Patterson AFB in 2011.

Following the guest speakers, a “Jenny” dedication will be held to recognize and show appreciation to the first airplane used in air evacuation, which was instrumental in preparing the Air Force for the aeromedical evacuation mission. Brig. Gen. Mark Koeniger, 711th Human Performance Wing commander, will be the dedication’s guest speaker.

The “Jenny,” a Curtiss JN-4, was the first aircraft deemed as the first air ambulance. At the end of World War I, the U.S. Army recognized the need to air transport wounded soldiers. In the same year, 1918, Maj. Nelson E. Driver and Capt. William C. Ocker converted a Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” bi-plane into an air ambulance. The cockpit was modified to accommodate a stretcher, and the beginning of aeromedical evacuation was born.

Day two will continue with guest speakers followed by a wreath presentation in remembrance of the flight nurses and technicians who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Names of the fallen will be read with a moment of silence.

After the wreath presentation, tours of the School of Aeromedical Evacuation will be offered and conclude with the graduation ceremony for students currently attending the School of Aeromedical Evacuation flight nurse and technician course.

“It is an honor to host the 75th anniversary here at USAFSAM, we are privileged to have a diverse group of speakers and events that celebrate the past, present and future of the noble profession of evacuating wounded warriors and bringing them home,” said Miller.

The schedule of events for the 75th anniversary of the School of Aero Evacuation features:

Aug. 2

8 a.m. – Welcoming remarks/Col. Alden Hilton, USAFSAM commander

8:15 a.m. – Air Force Medical Services perspective/Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, United States Air Force surgeon general

8:55 a.m. – Flight nurse, Operation Baby Lift in Vietnam/Harriett Neill

9:50 a.m. – Patient, Operation Baby Lift in Vietnam/James Terpenning

10:30 a.m. – Flight nurse, Operation Southern Watch, Khobar Towers and Saudi Arabia/Col. Jo Howard

11:10 a.m. – Technician, Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan/retired Master Sgt. Misty Adams

1 p.m. – Nurse/Critical Care Air Transport Teams/retired Lt. Col. Elena Schlenker

2 p.m. – Jenny dedication

Aug. 3

8:10 a.m. – Aero Medical Evacuation Association/Donald Raab

8:20 a.m. – Flight nurse/Leadership and aero evacuation/retired Col. Barbara Jones

9:30 a.m. – Memorial wreath presentation

10:20 a.m. – Tours

1:15 p.m. – Graduation

The speaking engagements, Jenny dedication and wreath presentation are free and open to anyone with base access. All events will be will be held at USAFSAM, Bldg. 840 in Area B.