(L to R) Col. Thomas Franklin, Capt. Shawn Bailey, Mckayla Dick and Robin Cosand fly the Cherokee Nation flag in front of a KC-135 Stratotanker at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — A doctor at W.W. Hastings Hospital recently returned from Afghanistan, where he served three months as a flight surgeon for the U.S. Air Force Reserve as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Col. Thomas Franklin, of Tulsa, was a flight surgeon for the 459th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, a unit out of Joint Base Andrews, Md. The unit is responsible for refueling friendly aircrafts, and the flight surgeons treated military personnel. Due to higher altitudes and the decreased effects of gravity in flight, the risk of health issues is greater and requires special attention by trained medical staff. The unit was also part of a NATO coalition base, with Army, Navy, Marines, British and Australians.
“A big part of what we do is participate in investigations when there’s an aircraft mishap. If there’s an aircraft that crashes, part of my job is to go out and take pictures and try to make some sort of medical assessment to figure out ways to keep things from reoccurring,” Franklin said. “These aircraft are extremely expensive, but the people who fly them are more important to us.”
Franklin has worked for the Cherokee Nation’s W.W. Hastings Hospital since completing his residency there in 2000. He currently serves as director of the emergency department. He started a four-year stint at Hastings to fulfill his scholarship from the National Health Service Corps, and after leaving for a few months he returned because of his relationships with patients and co-workers.
“To all of us who work with Dr. Franklin and for his patients that he cares for, he is known to be a conscientious provider of excellent emergency medical care,” W.W. Hastings CEO Brian Hail said. “That he also serves our nation in the U. S. Air Force is another example of his commitment to service, and it is a tremendous source of pride for all of us to have Dr. Franklin as part of our medical staff. We are glad he’s back safely and proud of his service to both the Air Force and the Cherokee Nation.”
Franklin has been active duty in the military for 33 years and has received several promotions and awards throughout his career, including the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
“The support I’ve gotten from Hastings and Cherokee Nation for my military career has been phenomenal,” Franklin said. “Working for Hastings, I’ve been allowed to participate and serve the country without any detriment to my civilian job. I’ve been really amazed at the support I’ve gotten.”
Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896
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