Saturday, February 03, 2007

Brian Allgood laid to rest

In the photograph, Col. Brian D. Allgood was smiling.

He was clasping his son, Wyatt, to his side. Mountains rose up behind the country road where they stood. The sky was clear. It was a good day.

The date was April 9, 2005. But less than two years later, Allgood, a giant in the field of military medicine, would be dead. He was 46.

“This is a tremendous loss to the Army,” said Col. Terry Walters, the commander of Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center.

Allgood died Jan. 20 with 11 other soldiers after the Black Hawk helicopter they were flying in crashed northeast of Baghdad. He was six months into a one-year tour as the command surgeon for the Multi-National Forces-Iraq. He was the top doctor in the country.

On Friday, the day Allgood’s son, who is 11, and wife, Jane, laid him to rest in Colorado, soldiers from Fort Bragg attended a memorial service to honor their fallen comrade. More than 70 people gathered in Womack’s Weaver Auditorium. They displayed the colors for him. They sang the national anthem and “God Bless America” for him. And they remembered him.

“He died as he lived, a consummate professional, courageous, engaged in delivering health care to his fellow human beings,” Walters said.

Allgood graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1982. He earned his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma four years later.

Before coming to Fort Bragg, he was a battalion surgeon for the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and he participated in the 1989 Panama invasion.

He worked as an orthopedic surgeon on Fort Bragg for more than five years in the 1990s. He served as chief of the hospital’s orthopedic surgery clinic, he was a consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command and commander of the 274th Forward Surgical Team — a group of doctors that treat soldiers on the front lines.

He left Fayetteville, where his son was born, to command the 232nd Medical Battalion. There he helped rewrite the curriculum for Army medics.

He was the commander of the 18th Medical Command, 121st General Hospital in South Korea before he went to Iraq.

One of his duties in Iraq included revamping that country’s health system. He was returning from a visit to one of the country’s newest hospitals when the helicopter he was flying in was struck by enemy fire.

The Army is investigating the crash.

Officers say he would have become a general. Allgood had been identified as the next commander of the 30th Medical Command in Germany. He would have been overseeing all the field medics in Europe.

“Meeting him, you would have never imagined he was such an accomplished man,” Walters said.

Allgood was quiet. But his actions spoke louder than his words. He once jumped out of a plane for another forward surgical team. They were low a few surgeons and they needed the help.

While at Womack, he’d stay late, keeping open the orthopedic clinic, if needed, to make sure soldiers were cared for.

Some of his old patients still come to the hospital and, for no particular reason, will remember him and praise him, his colleagues say.

Allgood liked the outdoors — especially hiking with his wife and son. He also liked to run. Col. Harry Warren, a former Womack orthopedic chief, said he never could beat Allgood.

“Every time they had a 10- miler at Fort Bragg he was running in it,” he said. “He was very fast.”

Allgood also ran through some combat training. He was a master parachutist and earned the Ranger tab. His friends say he went through combat training so he’d know exactly what the soldiers were experiencing.

While at Fort Bragg, Allgood asked the Army to change exit procedures for paratroopers because of some of the injuries he saw. The procedures were changed.

Both Walters and Warren say the reason why fewer soldiers have died from their wounds in this war than any other war is because of the training Allgood instituted for Army medics.

“This is truly a loss for America,” Walters said.

From the Observer

Related Link:
Brian Allgood remembered

Related Link:
Brian D. Allgood killed in helicopter crash