ARLINGTON, VA—Families of military medical personnel gathered last month under sunny skies at Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to the nearly 250 military medical servicemembers who have died in battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. “These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice to save their comrades,” said Dr Charles Rice, MD, the senior medical officer for DoD, who spoke at the ceremony.
The yearly ceremony to pay tribute to medical servicemembers who have died in battle since 2001 was started last year to honor doctors, nurses, medics, corpsmen, and other military medical personnel. Rice said that each March the MHS will honor military medical personnel who have died in service.
Medical Corps Joint Staff Surgeon Rear Adm David Smith, MD, told the families that nonmilitary medical personnel affectionately apply the title of “doc” to all medical personnel. “American men and women in the heat of battle fight for each other, and they fight knowing that if they are wounded, ‘doc’ will do everything possible to care for them. It is for this reason that military medical personnel have earned a special place among warriors.”
Smith told the families that he hoped that they would take comfort in knowing that their loved one was devoted to “preserving life” on the battlefield.
Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm Adam M Robinson, MD, said that as they honor the fallen military medical personnel that the commitment to them be renewed. “We must never rest until all of our wounded warriors and their families are also cared for.”
ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz praised the medical personnel serving in Iraq andAfghanistan in her remarks. She recalled how medical personnel saved the life of her colleague Bob Woodruff. In 2006, Woodruff was reporting in Iraq, where he was seriously injured by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle. He was treated by military medics following his injury.