509th Medical Group goes "nuclear"

  • Published
  • By Col. Judy Stoltmann
  • 509th Medical Group
Dec. 18, 2015, was a historic day for the 509th Medical Group (MDG), when its new emblem was approved and unveiled by Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets IV, the 509th Bomb Wing commander. If you were stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., before this date, you may have noticed the medical group's emblem differed from the wing and the other groups. In our efforts to learn more about our group's heritage, we discovered something very interesting. In April 1993, shortly before the 509th moved to Whiteman AFB, the then-appointed medical group commander wrote a letter to the Air Force historical research agency. In that letter, the commander requested a waiver to keep the emblem of the 509th Strategic Hospital, which had been at Pease AFB, N.H. from March 1959 through December 1990. The commander's reason for the request was the atomic cloud burst on the wing's emblem did not correlate to the medical profession of healing.

Although I understand the commander's reasoning in 1993, as soon as we found out we could rescind the waiver, we did so. Why? One reason is because AFI 84-105, Organizational Lineage, Honors and Heraldry, states that a group "assigned to a like-numbered wing must use the wing's emblem." But there is more to it than that. Just as the 509th Bomb Wing (BW) is proud of its heritage and mission, we at the 509th MDG are proud of that heritage and mission, and are extremely honored to support it. I make it a point to explain to group newcomers and remind all staff about how important they are to the mission. In fact, the wing would not be able to complete its mission without the hard work and dedication of the professional men and women of the 509th MDG. In light of this, how could we not adopt the wing emblem? Of course it is normally not the medical group's job to strike our enemies, but rather to help those who are injured or ill. The wing's emblem includes the atomic cloud burst depicting the two atomic bombs dropped in WWII and how we, today, use weapons as deterrence. It also includes a pair of distinct wings. These wings are not displayed in the usual outstretched manner, but rather mirror the way the ancient Greeks communicated their peaceful intentions by showing the palms of their hands. In other words, the wing's emblem reminds us not only of our history, but emphasizes that we advocate peace throughout the world.

Although is it important to reflect on our past, it is just as important to plan for the future. Dec. 18, 2015, was historic not only because we unveiled our new emblem, but because we also conducted a "wall breaking" ceremony for our extensive facility renovations. These renovations will touch almost every section in the clinic and will take almost three years to complete. The remodeled facility will help us to better serve our active duty members and their families, as well as our retirees and their families. The medical group will continue to build on our rich history to ensure we provide "Trusted Care--Anywhere!"