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1960s - Nelson

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2009 - Winter


Lionel M. Nelson, M.D. ’69, writes from Camp Stryker in Baghdad, where he is a colonel in the Army and the brigade flight surgeon with Task Force 449: “I have been here a month now, and have fallen into the routine. The day starts at 0 dark 30 with my usual exercise routine. ... no different than home. I get to fly about once a week, usually something to attend to at one of our forward operating bases where we keep air crews, and a good excuse to get outside the wire and see some green fields. Parts of the Iraqi countryside along the rivers are quite beautiful. Otherwise, most of the day is a combination of staff duties (coordination, reports, briefs, etc.), supervising medical care for the task force personnel and overseeing the medical portion of our medevac operations. I have a staff of 25, with several physicians to help me with this. Operational tempo remains quite heavy, but threat level is relatively low at this time. I came out of retirement (21 years in, mostly as a reservist, and retired for five years) to do this. The need for flight surgeons with experience is significant. The Army asked, and I volunteered. I will be here about 90-120 days, and have temporarily closed my ENT practice in San José, Calif., for that time. Although I have had other deployments in the past, this is my first time in Iraq. It is great to be back around the aviators. Helicopter crews, particularly the Apache and medevac folks, are full of bravado and practical jokes. I am glad to have the opportunity to be here and help take care of these very dedicated and brave Americans.”