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37th MDG has rich heritage

By James Coburn | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | Jan. 31, 2007

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Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — The 37th Medical Group, newly reactivated in a formal assumption of command ceremony Jan. 25 at the Gateway Club on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, has a rich and decorated heritage that includes service in the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.

Col. (Dr.) Tim Halligan assumed command of the 37th MDG in the ceremony as Brig. Gen. Darrell Jones, commander of the 37th Training Wing, handed him the group's flag. Colonel Halligan previously was commander of the 59th Aeromedical-Dental Group. The 59th AMDG was separated into two groups: the 59th Dental Training Group and the 37th MDG.

Col. Don Sedberry assumed command of the 59th Dental Training Group as he was handed the new group's flag by Brig. Gen. David Young, commander of the 59th Medical Wing. Colonel Sedberry previously was commander of the 59th Dental Squadron.

The 37th TRW now has its own medical assets for the first time since Wilford Hall Medical Center was completed in 1957, according to research by Tech. Sgt. Tracy English, NCO in charge of the 37th TRW Office of History and Research. He said Wilford Hall then became a separate unit that provided medical assistance to the base training mission.

Sergeant English said the 37th MDG was first activated on paper in April 1953 to support a possible Korean mission, but was deactivated in June 1953 when North Korea resumed peace talks.

He said the 37th MDG was reactivated later for service with the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, earning nine campaign streamers and five decorations from Vietnam, including the Presidential Unit Citation. It later earned a Southwest Asia campaign streamer and another Outstanding Unit Citation for service in Operation Desert Storm.

The 37th MDG's Vietnam service was from February 1966 until being deactivated in March 1970 when the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing left Vietnam. The 37th MDG was activated at Qui Nhon Air Field, South Vietnam, later consolidating with and becoming known as the 37th Dispensary Unit.

In November 1966, the unit moved to Phu Cat Air Base, where the rest of the wing was based, and remained there until the wing left Vietnam.

Sergeant English said the 37th MDG was reactivated in October 1989 at Tonopah Test Range, Nev., where the 37th Tactical Fighter Group brought the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter into operational status. The group was redesignated as the 37th Medical Squadron.

Sergeant English said the squadron deployed with the wing in a classified mission to Saudi Arabia, and the wing's fighters flew the first attack missions into Iraq when Desert Storm began Jan. 15, 1991. The F-117, which scored 1,600 direct hits on high-value targets in Iraq, was the only coalition aircraft to attack targets in downtown Baghdad.

The squadron was deactivated after Desert Storm, and has remained dormant until assuming its current medical duties for Lackland's 37th TRW, which also shares the former 37th Tactical Fighter Wing's heritage.