News: From around the world
Story by Pfc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Certain individuals provide medical treatment to the sick and injured on a daily basis. These heroes use their special skills to save peoples’ lives. This was the dream of one little boy growing up in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, who eventually made his way to “Raider” Brigade to take care of soldiers.
Capt. Paul Auchincloss, physician assistant, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, grew up knowing his dream was to become a health care provider.
Auchincloss said he moved around a lot growing up, eventually settling in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where he graduated high school in 1992. After graduating and not being eligible for medical school, he decided to pursue a career in aviation, while continuing to seek medical training. A combination of scholastic achievements and changing ethnic climate posed a considerable challenge.
As a result, Auchincloss said he went into aviation schooling, where he graduated at the top of his class, becoming one of Zimbabwe’s youngest commercial pilots at the age of 19, and being named Pilot of the Year and Instructor Pilot of the Year by the Mashonaland Flying Club in Zimbabwe in 1993 and 1994, respectively.
Auchincloss said he flew hunters and tourists in and out of neighboring countries until he moved to the United States in 1995.
While living in America, Auchincloss decided to once again pursue his dream of becoming a doctor thanks to the persistent nudging and prodding provided by his wife, who also had many similar goals and aspirations.
“I began to take Emergency Medical Technician and Shock Trauma Technician classes when I lived in Harrisonburg, Va., 14 days after entering the United States – thanks to the hard work and preparation of my devoted spouse,” said Auchincloss. “I also specialized in Heavy Vehicle Extrication, Vertical Rope Rescue and Cave Rescue.”
The devoted medic received a commendation for Lifesaving Excellence and was named Rookie EMT of the Year in 1996 by the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad.
In 1997, Auchincloss enlisted in the Army, with the goal of earning money for college and supporting his family.
Auchincloss said he enlisted as a field artilleryman and climbed through the ranks to sergeant first class, after a brief change in military occupational skill to that of intelligence analyst. From there, he continued his education in medical studies in 2005, where he enrolled into college at the Virginia Commonwealth University, and later transferred to the University of Virginia School of Nursing.
Just prior to degree completion, he was picked up by the Army’s Interservice Physician Assistant Program, through which he was commissioned a U.S. Army officer and became a physician assistant.
“The Non-commissioned Officer Corps is the ‘Backbone of the Army,’” said Auchincloss. “I believe that it is this insight and experience that makes me a better leader and officer as it provides a different perspective, which is useful in the medical community.”
“I watched many of Auchincloss’ lectures to groups of medics and Corpsmen; his mastery in the subject of medicine, and ability to communicate it in an entertaining style, reflected his passion of the subject,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ralph Leonard, staff physician, assigned to U.S. Navy Hospital at Camp Lejeune, N.C. “But actually watching him with patients showed how much he truly cared about soldiers.”
During Raider Brigade’s 2010 deployment to Afghanistan, Auchincloss worked hard to take care of soldiers.
“His remarkable dedication to patient care was manifested in several ways at our forward operating base,” said Leonard. “I saw him pull all-nighters several times when patients were critically ill; when we weren't busy with direct patient care, he used that time for building a very functional battalion aid station.”
Even when times got tough, Auchincloss pushed on and continued to treat and work with soldiers.
“While working with Auchincloss, there was a (soldier) who was killed by an improvised explosive device,” said Leonard. “He went to the combat outpost where that Soldier was stationed … participated in crisis intervention counseling, and supported the soldiers affected by the death.”
In his service to his nation, Auchincloss helped countless soldiers before and after his deployment with Raider Brigade.
It is because of his love of working with soldiers that he plans to continue to serve in the Army and keep treating soldiers, he said.
“Becoming a physician assistant is an honor. I’ve been an enlisted soldier, and now, I get to take care of those soldiers,” said Auchincloss. “I’ve got a soft spot for them; they do wonderful things for this country, so being a physician assistant is one of the best things that I can ask for.”