Skip to comments.41-year-old N.Y. doc answers Air Force's call
Posted on 05/15/2007 5:40:25 PM PDT by SandRat
/15/2007 - NEW YORK (AFPN) -- Little else is audible above the sounds of construction and traffic. Although it's been nearly six years, a constant flow of onlookers still gather on the breezeway above to view the site of one of the most tragic events in American history -- 9/11.
Passersby pause at the "Ten House" long enough to admire the bronze wall sculpture that memorializes the firefighters lost on that day. Others, on their daily commutes, steal a glance at the bright, red fire trucks parked just inside the open garage of the firehouse that faces the fenced perimeter of Ground Zero.
It is here that a 41-year-old physician and volunteer firefighter took an oath that will change his life for years to come. On May 10, Dr. Alan Flower, a 14-year physician and native New Yorker, crossed into the blue.
"We stand here in the shadows and surrounded by the spirits of great heroes," said Maj. Gen. Rick Rosborg, childhood friend and officiator of Dr. Flower's commissioning ceremony. "The great heroes who rolled out of Ten House on that horrible September morning; who ended up sacrificing their lives and their futures for their families and their communities and for this country.
"As we stand in the shadows, surrounded by the spirits of those tremendous men and women of the U.S. military fighting the war on terrorism who are suffering and, in fact dying, for our country, I couldn't think of a more fitting place or a better time to swear in and commission Dr. Alan Flower into the U.S. Air Force medical corps," General Rosborg said. "It is truly a great, great afternoon."
Although Dr. Flower has been a civilian family practice physician for the last 14 years, he said the attacks of September 11 and the aftermath are what prompted his decision to join.
"It's a calling," he said. "After 9/11, I had a young son and I realized I would gladly lay down my life to give him 37 good years like I'd had. That was the whisper that started the call, and it just became louder and louder as time drew on. When I had my second son, I was looking for a change and along came a post card from the Air Force Recruiting Center. I filled it out, sent it in, and eight weeks later I was called by the recruiter."
The process to qualify was a long, tedious one, Dr. Flower said. But he decided to stay the course.
"I remembered what the commander in chief said about 'uncompromised resolve,'" he said. "We leaned forward and saw it through, and did what we had to do to get here. My family is excited and apprehensive at the same time, but I know after going forward and feeling the pride I felt tonight that everything's going to be great."
The Air Force currently has a need for 129 family physicians, and it's rare to receive a response from someone like Dr. Flower, said Tech. Sgt. Trevor Falnes, a recruiter with the 314th Recruiting Squadron in New York City. Sergeant Falnes only recruits physicians for the Air Force and was Dr. Flower's recruiter.
"He responded through recruiter-generated mail," Sergeant Falnes said. "It seems like we get a million no's for every yes when we send those out, so it's very refreshing to get someone who was not only excited about the Air Force, but who was actually qualified to join. [Dr. Flower] is an intriguing man and a great physician. He's a family man, a beautiful American and I think he's going to be a great physician in the Air Force."
The doctor, now Major Flower, is expected to report with his family to the 4th Fighter Wing, 335th Fighter Squadron at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., following completion of commissioned officer training this summer.
"I'll be honored to take care of the men and women who take care of the nation," he said. "That's the driving force. That's enough to make somebody come in and cross into the blue."
A True Patriot
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