JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –The U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE), who unceremoniously marked their Centennial Birthday in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conducted a 102nd MEDCoE Birthday commemoration event to honor the MEDCoE’s place in Army Medicine’s rich and storied history, May 13, 2022, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The ceremony, hosted by the MEDCoE Command Group, Maj. Dennis LeMaster, Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Charpentier and J.M. Harmon III, welcomed over 200 on-line and in-person attendees, and opened with a historical video.
According to the MEDCoE Historian, Lewis Barger, the MEDCoE origin story began on 15 May 1920 when, Major General Merritt Weber Ireland, The Surgeon General (TSG) of the U.S. Army at the time, gave approval to establish the Medical Field Service School at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The foundation continued in Texas as the school was moved to Fort Sam Houston in 1946. Today, the school boasts the largest trooped force on the joint base.
Ceremony attendees included JBSA and San Antonio community leaders to include Joseph Bray, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (Texas South), the honorable Diana Denman, U.S. Army North distinguished quartermaster, and representing the mayor of San Antonio by providing speaker remarks, was Air Force Lt. Col. retired and the City of San Antonio’s district 10, Councilman Clayton Perry.
Perry spoke about military and Army contributions to San Antonio that helped shaped the city’s landscape as far back as 300 years ago. “So, even though y’all [the school], didn’t move here to San Antonio until 1946,” Perry said. “Y’all have a rich, deep history here in San Antonio.”
After Perry’s remarks, LeMaster addressed the crowd and thanked attendees. “While 102nd birthdays don’t normally get this much fanfare,” LeMaster said, “this one is special because we get to celebrate with all of you, unlike our true Centennial in May of 2020.” Acknowledging that COVID-19 is still a concern in the U.S. and the world, he remarked how proud he has been about the unit’s COVID-19 response. “As a command, we have continued to train Soldiers safely and expertly in their chosen profession within Army Medicine despite the challenges of COVID.”
LeMaster also spoke about the MEDCoE’s future.
“Developing leaders, driving change, and conserving fighting strength are what we do as stewards of the Army and Army Medicine profession; it is deliberate, purposeful, and painstaking,” LeMaster, who has been in command since January 2020 and is scheduled to relinquish command in June 2022, told the audience. “The reward is up to, and including, lives saved or enhanced through the power of medicine and Soldiering.”
The birthday ceremony also included a 102nd birthday video, happy birthday song, a cake cutting, and concluded with the group singing the Army song. As is tradition, the youngest MEDCoE Soldier and the civilian employee with the most time in service assisted the MEDCoE Command Group with the cake cutting. The most junior Soldier was Pvt. Frederic LeBlanc, an 18-year-old 68W combat medic and the civilian employee with the most years of service was James Murray, with over 50 years of federal service.
LeMaster concluded his remarks by explaining why the hard work of securing the future of Army medicine begins with leaders, cadre, staff and students at the schoolhouse.
“In our next 100 years we will seek to broaden our knowledge and aptitude, not only of what to train to save more lives on and off the battlefield,” LeMaster explained. “But how to train through strategic partnerships, development and expanded networks of support that will be cultivated through our communities, and even globally.”
To learn more about the MEDCoE Centennial visit https://medcoe.army.mil/centennial.