SECTION MENU

In Memoriam - Rufus DeHart

August 05, 2021

In Memoriam - Rufus DeHart

AsMA Home Office staff were saddened to hear of the passing of Rufus M. DeHart, M.D., Brig. Gen., USAF, and Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA).

Born in Christiansburg, VA, he spent a year in college and then joined the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in 1955 and completed training at Bryan AFB, TX, in 1956. He became a jet fighter pilot and was assigned to the 76th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Presque Isle AFB, ME, and McCoy AFB, FL. Later, he served in Keflavik, Iceland, with the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. While there, he served as a T-33 and F-89 instructor pilot, maintenance test pilot, and squadron instrument examiner. When he returned to Virginia, he attended the University of Richmond. He began medical school in 1961, receiving his M.D. from the Medical College of Virginia in 1965. During that time, he was also serving in the Virginia Air National Guard. He re-entered the Air Force in 1964 and served an internship at David Grant U.S. Air Force Medical Center, Travis AFB, CA. He was awarded an M.P.H. from the University of California, Berkley, in 1967 and completed an Aerospace Medicine Residency in 1969.
   Dr. DeHart was then stationed to Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, where he was Clinic Commander. His next assignment was Beale AFB, CA, where he was Chief of Aeromedical Services and surgeon at the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing for 3 years. After completing Air War College, he became Director of Base Medical Services at George AFB, CA. He was then assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Office of the Surgeon General, Washington, DC, in 1977, serving as Chief of Flight Medicine. From 1978-1983, he served as Chief of the Aerospace Medical Consultants Division, Headquarters Air Force Medical Service Center, Brooks AFB, TX. He transferred to Hickam AFB, HI, and served as Command Surgeon, Pacific Air Forces. He was then assigned to Langley AFB, VA, in 1984, where he became Command Surgeon, Tactical Air Command. In 1987, he assumed the position of Director of Professional Affairs and Quality Assurance, Office of the Surgeon General, Bolling AFB, Washington, DC. He was the first USAF Pilot-Physician to qualify as an instructor pilot. He retired with the rank of Brigadier General after leading the first tri-service military exchange visit with the Soviet Union in 1989.
   Dr. DeHart’s honors and awards included being selected as a member of the Honorary Public Health Society for academic achievement from the University of California School of Public Health, Distinguished Graduate of the USAF Air War College, top Air Force Award in Aerospace Medicine, and the George E. Schafer Award from the Society of USAF Flight Surgeons. He was a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine and within AsMA, Chairman of the Aviation Safety Committee from 1981-1983, on the Executive Committee from 1978-1982, and was President of the Society of USAF Flight Surgeons from 1982-1983. He published or presented 40 papers.