Commentary by 1st Lt. James Anderson
386th Expeditionary Medical Group
2/21/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- In
2003, I crossed trained from security forces to become a medical
technician. I had just completed technical school and clinical rotations
and as soon as I returned to my reserve unit, I was informed to prepare
for a one-year activation of our medical unit. The Iraq ground war was
in full effect and a large number of Soldiers, Marines and Airmen were
routinely being aeromedically evacuated from contingency operations in
the area of responsibility to Germany and then on to Andrews Air Force
Base, Md., for more definitive care in the multiservice area.
We quickly mobilized to accept patients and took over the base gym as
our contingency areomedical staging facility. I was unsure of myself and
my skill set because I was so "wet behind the ears". I was constantly
running around with my head cut off trying to do a hundred million
things and not accomplishing a single task. Capt. Vogan, who was one of
our experienced nurses, stopped me and asked what I was doing. He could
tell I was frustrated and tired. He immediately began to show me a
better way of accomplishing and prioritizing tasks.
He was busier than most of us, but still had the time to graciously
mentor me due to my inexperience. Vogan reinforced things I had already
learned in technical school and taught me new things. We were constantly
inundated with injured and sick patients, but not once did he complain.
He would always find me during our chaotic day and walked me through
the treatment of burn, psychological and orthopedic patients. My
confidence was strengthened tremendously. Then, I was able to step up
and assume a bigger role in our aeromedical evacuation mission and
direct patient care. I even occasionally assumed the role of lead
medical technician on incoming and outgoing aeromedical evacuation
Throughout our reserve activation, Vogan would often take time just to
talk. These talks would expand my Air Force and medical knowledge base.
We were undermanned and tired a majority of the time, but he continued
to stay positive and concentrate on the patients who deserved the best
care we could give them. My attitude was dramatically changed. The
troops coming back were exhausted, tired and in pain. The patients
usually were evacuated quickly through the system and regularly had
minimal personal gear and clothing with them.
My personal troubles seemed so trivial. Vogan taught me how to look at
the big picture and greater good. I have developed a certain philosophy
and motto through his tutelage. My sense of accomplishment is not based
what I have achieved through promotions and personal recognition, but
instead it is based on the servant leadership I learned from Vogan. I
ask myself , how I can help those I lead through my actions and genuine
concern for their welfare?
Vogan went on to become a JROTC instructor in West Virginia before his
retirement. His leadership instilled a higher calling and devotion to
duty in me. This allowed me to better myself and to pass along the
lessons that I have learned. I'm now a commissioned officer and nurse
due to his airmanship. Thanks Maj. Vogan....