Military and clinical
At UTC, Dr. Daw pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and began his military training in preparation for a future commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. The ROTC Military Science and Leadership Program presented challenges worthy of its reputation; his father's evaluation of the program was confirmed. Training to become an infantry officer emphasized leadership as well as the combat skills required to survive on the battlefield. As a consequence, he was immersed in an environment of highly accomplished young men and women who have become leaders in the country. NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) warfare training was an enduring part of the curriculum. Even then, Hubei province and Wuhan were of increasing concern to the Department of Defense, as a dedicated microbiology center was established there. Dr. Daw never suspected the biologic attack would come when he was a civilian. This was human engineered with full participation and guidance from not only the Chinese military, but also the NIH (!). Note the extremely rare codons CGG-CGG. No SARS virus has this in their genomes. By the way, who builds a P4 lab in a city of several million? Get ready for a Nipah and MERS pandemic, as the Chinese are doing the same gain of function warfare with these much more lethal viruses. Lab leaks from facilities that deviate from strict protocols are not uncommon. Denying the obvious Wuhan connection must rely on willful amnesia of the 1977 Russian flu caused by an H1N1 flu strain. Despite the pandemic's name, which killed more than 700,000 worldwide, it originated from a lab leak in northern China, with victims claimed there months before the outbreak in Russia. Although, in contrast to the gain of function biological warfare goals in Wuhan, the 1977 goal was more altruistic. The goal was to attenuate the H1N1 virus in order to provide a safe vaccination. Again, the Wuhan alteration of the SARS genome was explicitly to enhance its lethality. Why no push back against the Chinese?
The Chinese are so comfortable with their Manchurian candidate that they operate incredibly dangerous biolabs in California. Unlicensed, with Chinese military direction, deadly viruses are being manipulated to increase their lethality. Again, why is this being tolerated? Beijing is very happy with the destruction of our military and the acquiescence of our world leadership. Global claims to the Arctic Circle, the Panama Canal (both Atlantic and Pacific entries are controlled by China owned companies), the South China Sea and numerous ports in our hemisphere are confronted by weak utterances by the State Department. The Chinese have laid claim to the moon and have ASAT capabilities to enforce this; further, their naval forces now have capabilities to ensure their global "belt and road" mission.
Dr. Daw was also employed full time at Overnite Transportation Company as a billing and rating clerk. As a cadet, Dr. Daw was commander of the Color Guard, posting the colors at numerous venues, including the opening of TC Thompson Children's Hospital, all UTC home basketball and football games, the national meeting of the Reserve Officers Association and Mardi Gras parades, among others. He was also one of the founding officers of the short-lived UTC Sport Parachute Club, one of several outreach programs offered by the ROTC department.
A prerequisite for commissioning and the centerpiece of the U.S. Army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps is the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC). Cadet Daw and other cadets in his year group from the various collegiate senior ROTC programs were assigned to the First Infantry Division, Fort Riley, KS, for a six week evaluation of the skills culminated from three years of ROTC training, the results of which would become a major factor in the selection of active duty commissioned officers. Cadet Daw's successful completion of the LDAC included satisfying RECONDO and Pathfinder requirements.
Upon the conferring of his BA in biology and subsequent commissioning, Second Lieutenant Daw was granted an educational deferment from entry to active duty in order to attend dental school. 2LT Daw was fortunate to have been part of an outstanding class of dental students; National Board scores reflect that. That class set precedents with the paradigm shift in clinical instruction, as advocated by the American Dental Association. Further, as part of Governor Dunn's efforts, senior dental students provided an immeasurable benefit with their rotations in John Gaston Hospital and Saint Jude facilities. The laboratory skills taught at UT would prove to be invaluable in Dr. Daw's career. As a Memphis Jaycee, he marvelled at the extent of community outreach work that was possible with a few good people.
An anecdotal story related to my Jaycee work: as a community outreach organization, the Memphis Jaycees were blessed that a local Memphis DJ, Rick Dees, lent his many talents toward fundraisers we held. Ten seconds with Rick and one couldn't help but be energized; a beaming smile and larger-than-life personality endeared him to everyone he met. My four years association with the Jaycees saw a number of Rick's appearances at our fundraising events. His presence ensured large crowds with substantial funds raised for a variety of great causes, including Saint Jude Children's Hospital. His talented wife, Julie McWhirter, was the voice of Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon character in a number of productions in 1979. Like Rick, Julie always brightened a room and, according to Rick, was a great mom. Rick gained national prominence with his broadcasts of Top 40 radio hits as well as a number of television and video projects. Who can forget "Disco Duck" in 1976? Oh my, those seventies...
Fast forward to my assignment at the US Army Aviation Center a couple of years later. As a newly assigned officer, I was among a number of soldiers invited to a financial presentation at a local steak house. After four years of less-than-luxurious living while a dental student in Memphis, a free steak dinner seemed worth the presentation. My wife agreed; we seated ourselves at a long table with perhaps ten or twenty other attendees, engaging in conversation with adjacent folks. As the officers were in BDU's or flight suits, I struck up some discourse with a young pilot seated across from me. Recognizing my dental officer insignia, he asked where I went to dental school. Indicating my graduation from UT Center for the Health Sciences, Memphis, he asked me if I knew Rick Dees. After replying in the affirmative, the pleasant smile on this (cannot remember his name) aviator's face quickly changed to a derisive scowl. After a momentary pause, he explained his change of expression. It seems this combat helicopter pilot, a warrior who looked like he would be comfortable on an NFL team was, in fact, the guy in the duck suit. You can't make this up. Apparently, he accepted a hundred dollars for his efforts in the video, but the surprising success of this novelty video legally required more compensation. He had received none.
The number of "small world" occurrences during my life continue to intrigue me.
Upon completion of dental school, 2LT Daw was promoted to captain and assigned to Fort Sam Houston, TX, for a brief time until his permanent assignment to the U.S. Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, AL. Again heeding his father's advice, CPT Daw requested Fort Rucker, given its unique environment of warrant and commissioned officers. The delivery of dental care, as a consequence, became much more rewarding than at a large troop post where a definitive doctor-patient relationship was not possible due to the sheer volume of patients. Conversely, the highly technical military personnel who were permanent party at Fort Rucker far outnumbered the transient flight students, allowing for delivery of a broad array of dental services. Dr. Daw established patient relationships that went far beyond Fort Rucker. Future deployments in Europe and the Korean peninsula would find some of these extraordinary aviators once again either in CPT Daw's clinics with good old war stories or providing him assistance in airmobile operations. The most remarkable aspect of military service as an Army dental officer was the availability of board certified specialists; they were ubiquitous, providing a wealth of clinical excellence and a strong peer review structure for young dental officers. Additionally, dental officers are credentialled annually, with specific procedures delineated according to clinical skills evidenced in the treatment bays. No restrictions were ever placed on CPT Daw's credentials, as outlined in DoD guidelines. Hospital privileges were granted to CPT Daw at Lyster Army Hospital, Fort Rucker, the Second Combat Support Hospital, Fort Benning, GA and the 121st Evac Hospital, 18th MEDCOM, US Forces, Korea.
Dr. Daw considers himself blessed and fortunate, indeed, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Dental Activity (DENTAC), Fort Rucker, commanded by Colonel Belman Maddox, one of the most senior officers in the dental corps. CPT Daw was quickly placed in the team dental treatment modality embraced by the dental corps, utilizing specially trained dental hygienists (DTA's - dental therapist assistant), and assistants in a four chair system. This enabled the according of excellent dental care in an efficient manner to those who sacrifice so much - our military - as well as their family members. CPT Daw was placed on "team" after a relatively short period of time, owing to the respect COL Maddox had for UT graduates. On a number of occasions, COL Maddox, a Georgia bulldog, would indicate his respect for the clinical abilities of the UT trained dental officers he had encountered over the years. In fact, when the DENTAC's pedodontist tragically severed his fingers, COL Maddox selected CPT Daw from the six general dental officers assigned to the DENTAC to lead the pedodontic team at the post's elementary school. Although this was a Lieutenant Colonel slot, CPT Daw continued to provide dental care to the children of Fort Rucker for several months until a pedodontist was assigned. Again, COL Maddox was confident a UT trained dental officer could lead the five member dental team supporting children's dental health at Fort Rucker. There are some truly outstanding clinicians in Chattanooga and surrounding areas reflecting those high standards set forth by UT.
Primarily delivering routine dental care and, on a rotational basis, after hours emergency oral surgical treatment, CPT Daw's duties while stationed at Fort Rucker included those of forensic officer and DENTAC representative on the Tumor Registry board at Lyster Army Hospital. As forensic officer, CPT Daw was required to perform dental identifications in several aviation accidents, an unfortunate consequence of the rigors encountered in rotary wing flight training. Fort Rucker's Safety Center, renamed the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, with its huge collection of aviation accident research data has mitigated to some degree the inherent dangers of rotary wing aviation. During CPT Daw's tour at Fort Rucker, engineering modifications to fuel delivery systems greatly reduced burn fatalities such that only his initial identifications involved fire, as opposed to subsequent fatalities resulting from trauma.
As an Army dental officer, CPT Daw received training in advanced trauma life support (ATLS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Further, COL Maddox recommended him for attachment to the Second Combat Support Hospital, Fort Benning, GA, for oral surgical augmentation provided during the annual military maneuvers REFORGER. The combat support hospital supported the deployment of the First Infantry Division and the 82d Airborne Division's mobilization to Fulda Gap in defense of an armored attack from the former Soviet Union and their Warsaw Pact allies. There, he was part of a CSH staff that included a physician's assistant and a certified registered nurse anesthetist, as well as other medical officers providing triage and stabilization of injuries sustained in this exercise conducted in France and Germany. In addition, working with a U.S. Army liaison officer stationed at a German kaserne in Bavaria, CPT Daw and two of his professional colleagues volunteered to be the first to test a new confidence course designed and built by the U.S. military for inclusion in the basic training of German infantry. Noting some reluctance of the German military staff to accept this challenging course, the U.S. Army major in charge of the project wanted to show them that "dentists and nurses" were able to negotiate the course. Toward that end, three U.S. medical officers and one German volunteer negotiated the course as a team, emblemizing the close tactical operations conducted by the armies of Germany and the United States as part of NATO and Allied Forces Europe (AFE) military exercises designed to deter Soviet aggression. As a consequence of this, CPT Daw received a letter of commendation from the 2d CSH commander.
REFORGER was an important aspect of Soviet deterrence in the European theater while there was an inter-German border. This forward defense of NATO had devolved from a powerful multinational force under President Kennedy to a weakened semblance of its former self. This was a result of the strain put on the U.S. military by the Vietnam conflict and France's departure from NATO. Congress resisted the continued billeting of tens of thousands of troops in Europe; war planners developed airlift operations designed to move a division, roughly 10,000 soldiers with airborne support, weekly, if conflict developed in the European theater. REFORGER was the annual exercise to ensure the war plan involving 19,000 units would be executed properly.
Shortly after CPT Daw's return to Fort Rucker, his father's sage, if not prescient, advice to request the Aviation Center as a young captain's initial assignment once again paid dividends. With the establishment of aviation as a distinct branch of the Army, Major General Bobby Maddux left the command structure of the 101st Airborne Division to assume command of the Aviation Center. He also brought Air Assault training to Fort Rucker to become an integral part of flight school. CPT Daw, in order to enhance his RECONDO and Pathfinder skills, was able to participate in external load operations training. As global events would soon unfold, this further experience at Fort Rucker would prove to be invaluable. CPT Daw, nearing completion of his tour of duty at Fort Rucker, received a letter of commendation from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs relating to his first response at a serious head on collision involving military family members and the provision of treatment in the restoration of substantial dental damage suffered by a young mother.
I would be remiss if I didn't recognize my next door neighbor in Enterprise, AL, Captain Scott Wells. A highly accomplished military aviator, both fixed and rotary wing, as well as a test pilot for the United States Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory (USAARL), Scott kept me in shape with the hours of one on one basketball. As night vision technology improved, the incidents of aviation crashes decreased. Peripheral vision restrictions required the pilot to keep his head on a swivel; the latest model Scott was evaluating was a Bell Laboratories $225,000 entry into this rapidly advancing field. "Night and day..." Scott replied when asked of improvements this newest model had over previous ones.