Updated: Feb 17, 2020
"When I had shifts as the Medical Officer of the Day (or 'MOD'), it was hard; 24 hours without sleep. I once saw 100 patients during a MOD shift."
My name is Anonymous. I am a family doctor. I was in the Air Force from 1967 to 1969. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. My first contact with the military was College ROTC.
I went on to medical school for four years and then took my internship at Kings County Hospital in New York City. I had heard about the war in Vietnam from my fellow interns. They told me I could enlist in the military by enrolling in a lottery called the “Berry Plan.” If I did nothing, I would be drafted and most likely be assigned to the Navy which provided medical care to the Marines. An alternative to the Military was to join the U.S. Public Health Service and most likely stay in the United States or another safe place. I wanted to serve my country so I chose the Berry Plan.
I was assigned to the Air Force and sent to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. There were about 25 doctors. We were in the Tactical Air Command (or “TAC”). I liked wearing a uniform and caring for my fellow soldiers and their dependents. I was not a flight surgeon so they told me I could not get a flight a jacket. When I had shifts as the Medical Officer of the Day (or “MOD”), it was hard; 24 hours without sleep. I once saw 100 patients during a MOD shift. I was not otherwise involved with the war in Vietnam.
I met my wife in South Carolina and moved to California. I knew I had it easier than many of my fellow servicemen, but I remain proud that I served. I appreciate the people who go to war and risk their lives. The military is a subculture within a culture. They keep things steady and have honorable men like Colonel John McCain. I was an ‘officer and a gentleman.’ The military put me on a path that took me from Brooklyn to South Caroline to the San Francisco Bay Area peninsula where I practiced family medicine for 44 years. When I retired from private practice, I had worked for nearly 50 years as a doctor.