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In Memoriam: Richard Heimbach

March 16, 2018

In Memoriam: Richard Heimbach

AsMA was saddened to learn that former president Richard D. (Dean) Heimbach, M.D., Ph.D., has died.

   He served as president from 1994–1995. In addition, he served as Scientific Program chair for 1983 and was a member at large on Council from 1986–1988. He always provided thoughtful guidance with a wry sense of humor to the proceedings. In 1953, at age 17, he tested the first “Aqualung” imported into the United States. His uncle had procured the device and asked him to demonstrate its use in a documentary about a new sport called “scuba diving.”
   A native of Chicago, Dr. Heimbach earned his M.D. from the University of Chicago in 1960, then interned at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago from 1960–1961, and then served a 1-yr residency in radiology at the University of Chicago. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1962 and rose to the rank of colonel.
   In 1967, Dr. Heimbach earned a Ph.D. from New York University. He attended the U.S. Air Force Residency in Aerospace Medicine in 1971, and in 1972 earned an M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health. He was certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine in Aerospace Medicine in 1974. He became officially certified in diving in 1975 after 22 years of diving and incorporated his love for the sport into his medical practice.
   While in the Air Force, Dr. Heimbach was assigned to the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM), Brooks AFB, TX, from 1974 until his retirement in 1982. During that time, he became Chief of the Hyperbaric Medicine Division and, with Dr. Jefferson C. Davis, established the USAF Hyperbaric Medicine Center, where he became its Director of Medical Operations and later Director of the Center itself. After his retirement from the Air Force, he went on to serve as Assistant Director and then Director of the Jefferson C. Davis Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, TX. He retired from there in 2000.
   An AsMA Fellow, Dr. Heimbach was also a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine and the Royal Society of Health. He was President of the Undersea Medical Society (now the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society) and served on its Program and Education Committees. He was also a member of the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Association. His awards and honors included the Alumni Award for Scholastic Excellence from New York University; the USAF Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters; and he was a co-winner, along with AsMA Fellow Dr. Thomas J. Tredici, of the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine Medari Award for his leadership. He had over 50 publications, papers, and lectures to his name.