To Members of the NN-MP Chapter of the VAHS and Friends,
As promised, here’s the next in a series of brief notes about subjects that have local historic significance, and a link to aviation. This series is unique to our Chapter of VAHS, and is provided to you in appreciation of your participation and recognition of your ongoing support.
The article regarding Dr. Richard “Rich” Williams, former NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer is below.
As a reminder, please remember to support the VAHS with your annual dues–simply contact Sue Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org to check your renewal status, start a new membership or give a gift membership to a friend or young aviation enthusiast.
Please stay safe and stay well. And—Thank you for your continued support.
Nancy L. Miller, VAHS Board Member/Member NN-MP VAHS Chapter Programs.
George A. Galo, NN-MP VAHS Chapter liaison.
In May 2019 the NN-MP Chapter of VAHS hosted Dr. Richard “Rich” Williams, former NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer, surgeon, Aerospace Medicine Physician and current Director of the Three Rivers Health District (TRHD). TRHD serves the 10 local health departments, county governments and school systems of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, with its main office located in Saluda. Dr. Williams’s presentation featured his work with the national space program, the astronauts, the many innovations and practical applications developed during his tenure, and the future of space exploration. While the presentation was fascinating and packed with information, and attendees asked numerous questions, a recent interview conducted by Gloucester Mathews Gazette-Journal reporter Sherry Hamilton revealed that we only heard a fraction of the aviation experience and achievements that Dr. Williams amassed before coming out of a brief retirement to serve as TRHD Director.
A sampling from the article that appeared in the August 20, 2020 issue of the paper includes:
• Graduate—Hampton High School, College of William and Mary, Medical College of Virginia (on an Air Force scholarship), surgery internship at Keesler USAF Medical Center in Mississippi, and a residency in general surgery at Wright State University in Ohio
• Deployment to Saudi Arabia with the 1st TAC Fighter Wing as commander of the Air Transportable Hospital during the Persian Gulf War’s Operation Desert Shield/Storm
• Two residencies at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas
• Retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel, Dr. Williams entered the Federal Senior Executive Service at NASA, leading to his ultimate service as Chief Health and Medical Officer
• As a pilot, Dr. Williams accumulated over 4,000 hours in over 25 different aircraft—and currently owns and flies a Lancair and a vintage Yak
• Current service on NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel
Given his past experience and responsibilities over a 40-year career in medicine and service as the head of medical oversight of NASA’s astronaut program, his summary quote in the Gazette-Journal article carries significant meaning for us and for all the residents of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, “Helping people get through this pandemic is probably more important than anything else I’ve ever done.”