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Spurgeon Neel


Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) Spurgeon Neel was a pioneer in the development of the principles of aeromedical evacuation of battlefield casualties having chaired a board which tested, evaluated, and recommended the use of the helicopter in medical evacuation (MASH) roles. His recommendations were put to use in the Korean War and, based on further experience during this war, he developed medical evacuation policies, procedures, and organizations which are the foundation of current aeromedical operations. In 1954, Major Neel became the Army's first Aviation Medical Officer, and in 1955 he served on the Department of the Army board which conducted a design competition to select the new standard Army utility helicopter, which ultimately became the UH-1. The same year he established flying status for Aviation Medical Officers and was the first Aviation Medical Officer to receive flying status. In 1956, he established the Aviation Branch within the Office of The Surgeon General and became its first chief, later designing the Aviation Medical Officer Badge and becoming its first recipient. Further, he established a formal program for Board Certification of Army Medical Officers in Aviation Medicine and laid the groundwork for the Army Aviation Medical Training and Research Program.