Top medical officer in Iraq garners first star
July 29, 2008
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - It wasn't until his high school years in Honolulu that Joseph Caravalho Jr. realized he wanted to be a physician.
Fast forward more than thirty years and that same man is the top medical officer in Iraq; one with a new star on his chest, as Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr. was promoted July 28 to his current rank here, with his family witnessing via video teleconference.
"He's a one of a kind Soldier, and a one of a kind physician," said Lt. Gen Lloyd J. Austin III, commander, Multi-National Corps - Iraq, who promoted Caravalho during the ceremony. "We are very grateful to have Joe on the team, and this is a promotion well deserved."
Caravalho, the Multi-National Force - Iraq and MNC-I surgeon, grew up in Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii, and said he was most happy with how proud his family is of his promotion.
"They (parents Agnes and Joseph Sr.) sacrificed an awful lot to prepare us for school and a life of service, so I'm happy to make my mom and dad proud," Caravalho said.
On hand to watch his promotion from Fort Bragg, from which Caravalho is deployed as part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, were several family members and Soldiers, including his wife Lorraine, son Joe and daughter Amanda.
Caravalho thanked his family for their dedication to him in his journey through the Army, in particular his wife.
"I'm so grateful for my wife allowing me to stay in as long as I have, and thank you for your unconditional love; because Lord knows I've placed a lot of conditions on you over the years."
Caravalho, who is an Army Ranger and Special Forces Soldier, attributes the beginnings of his success to a man named Brother Farrell, who at St. Louis High School in Hawaii told Caravalho he could be anything he wanted to be.
"That's the first time anyone said anything like that to me," Caravalho said.
That's how his path to the medical field began. And while a member of the ROTC program at Gonzaga University, he realized where his career would take him.
"I realized that I hoped to be a physician, but I knew I wanted to be a career officer," he said.
He was helped along his path by mentors, officers, soldiers and NCOs - those of which he said he could only repay by continuing his service.
"As far as the folks that have allowed me to see all the possibilities in life, or have encouraged, supported, coached, taught and mentored me - I can never repay them individually," Caravalho said. "But the way the Army works, the way I repay them, is to [mentor] the next generation."
Caravalho is a graduate of Gonzaga University, holds a doctoral degree from the Uniformed Service University of Health Sciences and is a graduate of the Army War College.
His most recent assignments include consecutive assignments at Fort Bragg starting June 2003 until present: deputy commander for clinical services, Womack Army Medical Center, chief, professional services, 44th Medical Command, commander, 28th Combat Support Hospital, surgeon, United States Army Special Operations Command; corps surgeon, XVIII Airborne Corps until his present duty position.
Caravalho's decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Flight Surgeon Badge, Expert Field Medical Badge, Parachutist Badge, Scuba Diver Badge, Ranger Tab and Special Forces Tab.