Lt. Col. Eric Johnson, 446th ASTS

When the twin towers went down, when the Pentagon got hit, and the airplane crashed in Pennsylvania, I knew the United States would be involved in a big way. I was 53-years-old, worked as an anesthesiologist, and had no prior military experience. But I knew there would be a need for my medical expertise. Within a week of the attack I began filling out papers to enter the Air Force Reserve. After receiving a presidential age waiver I was in. There was much to learn and many Air Force schools to attend in between my work. My first deployment was to Iraq as the physician of a three-person critical care air transport team. We transported critically injured troops out of Iraq to Germany via C-17. I remember on my first mission thinking that any of these young men and women under my care could have been my own father in World War II, who was injured in the Aleutian Islands preparing for battle against the Japanese. It took more than two months and a combination of a PBY aircraft, ships, and trains to get my dear Dad out of Alaska to Walla Walla, Wash. for definitive care. In Iraq and Afghanistan we were getting these troops back to the United States in 24 to 48 hours from the time of the injury. I have also deployed to Afghanistan. Being a part of the United States military is my greatest honor. I'll stay in as long as they let me. (Courtesy photo)

VIRIN: 110909-F-JB957-001.JPG
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