Dr. Henry K. Lau, 1996 graduate of the College of Osteopathic
Medicine of the Pacific at Western University of Health Sciences and only
the second osteopathic physician (DO) to be commissioned a flight surgeon
for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in its 50-year history, will visit
the Pomona-based campus on Thursday, April 8, 2004 at noon, to share his
compelling story with students.
Dr. Lau follows in the coveted footsteps of his former professor
and the man who set the precedent when he became the first DO flight
surgeon in Thunderbirds history during the time of the Vietnam War,
Dr. Burt Routman, an instructor and family medicine physician at Western
University’s Medical Center.
Commissioned in the Air Force in 1992, Lau’s military tenure
is marked by a steady rise in rank–from second lieutenant to captain to
major–and a stint in the search and rescue arm of the Operation Enduring
Freedom mission in Afghanistan shortly after the terrorist attacks of
Sept. 11, 2001. He officially signed on as an Air Force Thunderbird
flight surgeon on November 1, 2003.
As was Dr. Routman, Dr. Lau is currently stationed at Nellis Air
Force Base in southern Nevada, where he is a family medicine physician
in what is now his eighth year. The Air Force Thunderbirds, the elite
air demonstration team that has symbolized the Pentagon’s aerial division
for more than half a century, were activated in 1953 at Luke Air Force
Base in Arizona. Their name derives from southwestern Native American
folklore, which has long revered the half-eagle, half-hawk for its valor
and sky prowess.
“”We proudly welcome back Dr. Lau to his alma mater and we’re
eager to recognize both his and Dr. Routman’s precedent-setting
accomplishments in the tradition of osteopathic medicine. Their place
in both U.S. military and medical history is firmly cemented and an
inspiration for our future health professionals,”” said Western University
President Philip Pumerantz.
Located in Pomona, 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles,
Western University of Health Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution
of higher learning that offers post-baccalaureate degrees in several
health and medical fields. More than 1,500 students study to become
osteopathic physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, advanced
practice nurses, veterinarians, and physician assistants at the
university’s five colleges.