Ceremony Honors Fallen Military Medical Personnel
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., May 3, 2013 Military medical professionals who made the ultimate sacrifice in the last decade of war were the best the nation had to offer for their selflessness in the name of freedom, the Pentagon’s top health care official said here today.
Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, delivers keynote remarks during a remembrance ceremony for 300 fallen military medical personnel at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, May 3, 2013. The fallen medical professionals served during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. They were doctors, nurses, Army medics and Navy corpsmen, among other medical professionals. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In keynote remarks at the fifth remembrance ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery dedicated to fallen U.S. medical personnel laid to rest there, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, thanked the families and friends of the fallen for their sacrifices.
“Friends and families, I thank you for your sacrifice and suffering you’ve endured over the years,” he said. “Their acts of heroism in life and death [are] beyond measure.”
Today’s ceremony, conducted at the cemetery’s old amphitheater, honored more than 300 fallen military medical personnel who served during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. They were doctors, nurses, Army medics and Navy corpsmen among others, Woodson said.
They chose to serve and were willing to give that last full measure of devotion for their fellow service members, Woodson said.
“They willingly put themselves in harm’s way when it mattered the most,” he added.
Woodson noted the ceremony was not rooted in grief alone.
“Together today, we rededicate ourselves to the work that your loved one so nobly advanced,” he said.
The willingness to help others showed through in the events surrounding the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, Woodson said, pointing out that numerous first responders were current and former military medical personnel who used their life-saving military skills to help the injured.
“When [the injured] came to the hospitals, they encountered doctors, nurses and medics who brought those skills home with them from the battlefield,” Woodson said. “And I know the spirit of your love was there with them. From Iraq to Afghanistan to Boston, the long arc of dedicated military medical professionals remains a force of unequaled good in the world.”
Woodson said the sacrifices of military medical professionals and their families will never be forgotten.
“[Those] sacrifices meant so much,” he said. “I promise you on behalf of the nation that we will always remember the valor of their military medical service.”