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Mary T. Klinker Award

June 28, 2019

Mary T. Klinker Award

Established by the Flight Nurse Section in 1968, this award became an official AsMA award in 1972. In 1978 it was renamed in memory of Mary T. Klinker, who was killed in a C-5A crash while performing a humanitarian mission. The award is given annually to recognize significant contributions to, or achievements in, the field of aeromedical evacuation. Sponsored by ZOLL Medical Corporation.

David O’Brien (center), accepts the Klinker award from AsMA President Vermeiren (left) and George Beck (right), representing ZOLL.
   David O’Brien, M.D., M.P.H., CPE, received the 2019 Mary T. Klinker Award in recognition of his 28-year career in clinical and operational medicine leadership, directly supporting aeromedical evacuation for the Department of Defense, Federal agencies and U.S. allies. He is honored for his dedication and outstanding accomplishments establishing a highly successful global patient movement system, improving clinical care in flight and on the ground, and integrating teams across military services and medical career fields, ensuring that patients have the right care, at the right time, and to the right destination.
   Dr. O’Brien received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, in 1983 and a Doctor of Medicine Degree from Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University of Chicago, IL, in 1987. He earned an M.P.H. at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston in 1994 and completed residency training at Brooks AFB, TX, between 1994 and 1996. He also graduated from Air Command and Staff College in 1996. He is board certified in both Aerospace Medicine and Occupational Medicine. He completed Air War College in 1999 and courses at the Federal Healthcare Executive Interagency Institute in 2012.
   Dr. O’Brien became a Flight Surgeon at the 836thMedical Group, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, in 1988. From 1996-1999, he was the Flight Commander at the 354thMedical Operations Squadron, Eielson AFB, AK. In 1999 he transferred to the 47th Aeromedical Dental Squadron at Laughlin AFB, TX, to become Commander. He became Chief Flight Surgeon, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, IL, in 2001, where he served until 2004, when he became Commander of the 96th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Eglin AFB, FL. During 2006, he served as Medical Director of the U.S. Central Command Joint Patient Movement Center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where he then became U.S. Central Air Forces Forward Surgeon in 2007. During his time in Qatar, he was also Commander of the 1st Aerospace Medicine Squadron at Langley AFB, VA. 
   Dr. O’Brien transferred to Korea in 2008 to become Commander of the 51stMedical Group at Osan Air Base. In 2010, he returned to the United States to serve as Command Surgeon at 13th Air Force, Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Hickam, HI. In 2012 he returned to Scott AFB to become Command Surgeon at U.S. Transportation Command.
   In these many roles, Dr. O’Brien’s activities led and transformed aeromedical evacuation, including: 1) development and operational fielding of the Transport Isolation System and associated Concepts of Operation, for the aeromedical evacuation of Ebola and other infectious disease patients; 2) clinical validation and world-wide regulation exceeding 25,000 DoD and allied patients annually; 3) integration of 4 geographically separate patient movement centers into an integrated Global patient movement system; 4) in conjunction with the CDC, developed US and international aeromedical transport/infection control standards for SARS, MERS-CoV, and Ebola patients; 5) planned and executed DoD contingency patient evacuation during Operation Tomodachi following the Japan nuclear power plant disaster; 6) planned and coordinated the first-ever winter Night Vision Goggle medical evacuation from Antarctica; 7) coordinated Air Force and Army medical evacuation efforts in Southwest Asia, transporting 3,900 casualties, re-organizing touchpoints between fixed and rotary wing evacuation, and balancing aircrew and aircraft requirements to sustain high casualty operations; 8) developed and instituted flight surgeon training course for aeromedical evacuation for USAF School of Aerospace Medicine; and 9) validated 6,500 item allowance standard for Aeromedical Evacuation crews and Critical Care Teams.
   Upon retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 2016, Dr. O’Brien joined the FAA and currently serves as the Federal Aviation Administration’s Manager of the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, located at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, OK. In this capacity, he oversees the medical certification of over 500,000 airmen operating in the U.S. National Aerospace System.
   Dr. O’Brien is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medicine Association and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and a Past-President of the American Society of Aerospace Medicine Specialists, and a former Secretary for the Society of USAF Flight Surgeons. A Certified Physician Executive, he is also a member of the American Association for Physician Leadership and of the American Academy of Family Practice.