959th Medical Group Airmen at BAMC receive distinguished awards

By Elaine SanchezJanuary 10, 2023

959th Medical Group Airmen at BAMC receive distinguished awards
Col. Renee Matos, chief, Department of Pediatrics, speaks at a ribbon cutting ceremony reopening the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Jan. 5, 2023. Matos recently received the 2022 Military Health System Award for Advancement of Women Physicians in Military Medicine, senior category. (DoD photo by Jason W. Edwards) (Photo Credit: Jason W. Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, (Jan. 10, 2023) -- The New Year’s revelry may be over; however, with a host of local and national awards, the 959th Medical Group still has cause to celebrate.

Several 959th Airmen assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center were recognized recently for their selfless service, professionalism, and clinical expertise, both at home and overseas.

“These awards are just another reminder of how lucky I am to be in the presence of such an amazing team, let alone be given the chance to lead,” said Col. John Davis, commander, 959th MDG and BAMC’s deputy commander for health readiness.

“What an awesome way to kick off the new year,” said Brig. Gen. Deydre Teyhen, BAMC commanding general. “We could not accomplish our healthcare and readiness missions without the tremendous contributions of our Air Force teammates. We are lucky to have an amazing and integrated team of Air Force and Army professionals caring for our community in Military City USA!”

Of note, Maj. Dominick Vitale, trauma/critical care surgeon, 959th Surgical Operations Squadron, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his contributions during Operation Allies Refuge during a ceremony last month at Travis Air Force Base, California. Vitale was among 27 Airmen from two Travis-led missions who received the award for their acts of heroism and extraordinary achievements while participating in aerial flight. He served as part of MOOSE 98’s Critical Care Air Transport Team, which is the first CCATT to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross.

For Vitale’s mission, the crew conducted a critical care aeromedical evacuation mission from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 26, 2021, in response to a suicide bombing near the airfield. The team delivered all patients to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, alive.

“Major Vitale is a true team player who aided in a critical mission,” Davis said. “We are honored and proud to have him on the team.”

Additionally, Maj. Jonathan Henderson, emergency medicine physician, 959th Emergency Medicine Squadron, was named a 2022 Hero of Military Medicine by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. This award honors military professionals who demonstrate excellence in medical research or clinical care.

In other news, Col. Renee Matos, chief, Department of Pediatrics, received the 2022 MHS Award for Advancement of Women Physicians in Military Medicine, senior category. This competitive award recognizes contributions to military medicine and work mentoring others, particularly with inspiring young women working in the fields of medicine and science.

As noted in the nomination packet, Matos “is a superb physician leader, educator and champion of women in medicine.”

Locally, Senior Airman Alizaya Ambriz, medical technician, 959th Surgical Operations Squadron, was presented the Diamond Sharp Award by the Joint Base San Antonio First Sergeants Council. This award recognizes outstanding Airmen who continually exceed the standard to meet the Air Force mission.

At the command level, six 959th Airmen received Air Education and Training Command Air Force Medical Service awards. The following recipients will next compete at the Air Force level:

• Senior Airman Autumn Brown - Mental Health Airman of the Year

• Staff Sgt. Veronica Sanchez - Respiratory Care Practitioner Airman of the Year

• Tech. Sgt. Donald Madson - Aerospace Medicine Noncommissioned Officer of the Year

• Tech. Sgt. Marlene Burt - Surgical Services NCO of the Year

• Master Sgt. James Bowden - Senior NCO Organizational Management Excellence Award

• Capt. Sarah Juhasz - Clinical Excellence in Nursing Award

Finally, the following 959th nurses were selected for highly competitive chief nurse positions:

• Lt. Col. Wanda Jimenez - Vandenberg Air Force Base

• Lt. Col. Robert Trobaugh - McGuire Air Force Base

• Lt. Col. Paige Warren - Aviano Air Base

The 959th MDG integrated into BAMC in 2012 to support the Defense Department’s largest inpatient facility and only Level I Trauma Center. The group is the third largest medical group in the Air Force and the largest Graduate Medical Education site in the Defense Department, educating and training allied health professionals across 32 disciplines from all services – Air Force, Army and Navy.

“We greatly appreciate what the 959th brings to the team,” Teyhen said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see how our Air Force teammates are excelling and advancing in their careers at BAMC.”