I recently retired from the U.S. Navy Medical Corps and was looking for at least one more adventure in life. I stumbled across a book entitled “Idiot’s Guide to the Arctic and Antarctic” and read a chapter regarding employment in Antarctica. The rest, as they say, is history. This blog is about my experiences during the (austral) winter of 2012, the centennial of the first attainment of the geographic South Pole.
I joined the Navy in 1978 looking for adventure (Navy recruiting motto at the time – “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure”) and a method of paying for medical school. My dad spent more than 23 years as a Navy Chaplain and I learned appreciate the Navy lifestyle. After graduating from medical school, I completed a Psychiatry internship and later a residency in Emergency Medicine. I was interested in flying and diving, so after internship I attended the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola, FL and earned my “wings of gold” upon graduation as a Naval Flight Surgeon. I spent the next 2 1/2 years with the United States Marine Corps at the Second Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS Cherry Point, NC with an A-6 Intruder training squadron, as well as the Search & Rescue Detachment flying Vietnam war vintage CH-46s. I then attended the Naval Undersea Medical Institute in New London, CT for Submarine Medical Officer training, as well as the Naval Diving & Salvage Training Center in Panama City, FL to become a Navy diver. Assigned to Submarine Development Group One in San Diego, CA, I completed a 17-week saturation diving course at the Naval School of Deep Diving Systems and was designated a Saturation Diving Medical Officer. SUBDEVGRUONE was responsible for the Navy’s Deep Submergence Program and submarine rescue operations, so in addition to deep sea diving I had the opportunity to dive thousands of feet under the ocean in Deep Submergence Vehicles.
After 7 years of operational assignments I figured I had better get some additional clinical training and commenced my Emergency Medicine residency. Since then I have served in clinical, operational, and executive medicine assignments in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. I had the privilege of being the Executive Officer (COO) at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan; the Commanding Officer (CEO) at U.S. Naval Hospital Naples, Italy; and the U.S. Fifth Fleet/U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Surgeon in Bahrain. My last assignment in the Navy was at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD working in the Emergency Department initially and then transferred to the Wounded Warrior Clinic caring for primarily war wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan. I am currently board certified in Emergency Medicine, as well as Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine.
The Navy is a great career for someone looking for adventure and life challenges. The main thing that kept me in the Navy for more than 33 years was the opportunity to meet and work with some truly outstanding people. I have been lucky enough to have visited 63 countries, all 7 continents, and lived in 5 countries (that would be 6 if Antarctica were a country). I have provided direct medical support for operations at Arctic Ice Stations, in the Amazon jungle, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and in Russia. I have participated in a number of domestic and international disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations and have worked extensively with federal law-enforcement, as well as other governmental agencies both in the United States and overseas. That said, I am a pretty ordinary person. Anything I can do, you can do. You just have to decide what it is you want and go for it.
I haven’t decided what my next adventure will be when I get off the ice in November 2012, but I am certain I will come up with something! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!