By Jose E. Rodriguez, MEDCoE Public AffairsDecember 6, 2019
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -The U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing, or USAGPAN, held a ceremony honoring the memory of Capt. Sunday Olawande, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in the Army Nurse Corps.
Olawande served in the 344th Combat Support Hospital in Fort Hamilton, N.Y. In January 2003, he voluntarily deployed to Salerno Forward Operating Base with the 325th Forward Surgical Team in Afghanistan. He served with distinction and redeployed in the winter of 2003.
Tragically Olawande lost his life in a motor vehicle accident while on post deployment leave. In response to his death, his unit memorialized his patriotic service to the country by re-designating the Forward Operating Base, or FOB, Salerno Hospital as the "Sunday Olawande Memorial Hospital" in his honor.
A plaque bearing his name was placed at the emergency room entrance, proudly presiding over all medical operations at FOB Salerno at the hospital for nine years before the base's closure in 2013.
Capt. Sunday Olawande exemplified the American Dream. He immigrated from Ekiti, Nigeria in the 1980's and settled in the Bronx, N.Y. In 1991, he enrolled in Lehman College as a Nursing Major. Like many immigrants before him, he enlisted in the military. He became a CRNA in 2000 and decided to continue his patriotic duty as a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Lt. Col. Young J. Yauger, an assistant professor at the USAGPAN said, "Clearly CPT Olawande made such an impact on his fellow soldiers and civilians to be honored with a hospital named after him. He may be the only CRNA in US Army history bestowed with such an honor."
Noting its significance and wanting to find a fitting home for the memorial plaque, he reached out to his former Army colleague and mentor, Dr. Bruce A. Schoneboom, a retired colonel in the Army Nurse Corps who commanded the Olawande Memorial Hospital at Salerno Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan in 2006. Dr. Schoneboom remembered the plaque fondly and how it inspired the care given to all patients. Dr. Schoneboom was honored to attend the ceremony and accepted the commemoration.