News: 1st Air Cav physician assistant receives top honor
Story by Sgt. Christopher Calvert
FORT HOOD, Texas – More than 23 years of enlisted and commissioned service to the Army Medical Department culminated in a single moment for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade’s physician assistant.
Maj. Ronnie Holmes of the 1st Air Cav. Bde., 1st Cavalry Division was inducted into the Order of Military Medical Merit here at Troop Medical Clinic 12, Hood Army Airfield, Jan. 8.
For him, those years of medical service were not in anticipation of receiving awards or accolades, but instead, taking care of the Army’s most precious resource: soldiers.
“It’s not about me; it’s about teamwork,” said the Blackwell, Okla., native. “It’s about what you as a member of a team can do to help a soldier on the battlefield.”
The Order is private organization founded in April 1982 by the U.S. Army Health Services to recognize excellence and promote fellowship and esprit de corps among Army medical personnel.
Membership denotes distinguished service in the top 10 percent of the field, and recognizes those individuals who have clearly demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence, served in the medical sector for a minimum of 10 years with selflessness, and have made a sustained contribution to the betterment of Army medicine, according to the Army Medical Department.
“I’m honored and humbled to be inducted,” Holmes said. “When you redeploy and a Soldier who you helped on the battlefield tells you thanks for what you did, that’s good stuff. Everything we do is a team effort.”
Holmes served for 14 years as an enlisted health care specialist, where he distinguished himself quickly and was selected to be an instructor at the Army Medical Department Noncommissioned Officer Academy due to his leadership skills and experience as an aidman, senior medic, and battalion medical sergeant.
At the academy, he mentored hundreds of NCOs, developed the first military operations in urban terrain training (MOUT) exercise for Army Medical Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course students, and played a key role in the development and implementation of their distance-learning program, said Maj. Massimo Federico, brigade surgeon.
“He truly exemplifies what it means to be a warrior, leader, and a health care practitioner,” said Federico, a Woburn, Mass., native. “As a sergeant, he was recognized for his actions during a multiple car accident scene on a Kansas highway. As a staff sergeant, he was recognized for successfully resuscitating an 8-year-old drowning victim. No one deserves this more than him.”
After promotion to sergeant first class, Holmes was selected for the Army Physician Assistant Course and was commissioned in 2005 as a first lieutenant. He deployed to Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division, where he was recognized as the best PA by his brigade, with more than two dozen resuscitations, saving numerous lives.
Two years later, he deployed again to Iraq with the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cav. Div., and supervised a pediatric burn clinic. Soon after, he deployed to Afghanistan with the 1st Air Cav. Bde., where he earned the Air Medal while accumulating more than 100 hours of medical evacuation combat flight time for critical and point-of-injury missions.
“Ronnie has been cited on every officer evaluation report in his career as a PA – every single one – as the number one PA they have ever worked with in their career,” Federico said. “His leadership skills, technical competence, and ability to train and mentor others have impacted so many it’s immeasurable. Beyond his talents, his dedication and work ethic are without comparison. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this induction, and I am most proud to call him a friend.”