Colonel Alice Chapman, United States Air Force
My friend, Alice, has served in the Air Force since 1994. We met in high school in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1982. She moved to North Carolina and I have been amazed watching how she has grown and how her career has evolved. I'm very proud to be able to say I know a Colonel in the Air Force. :)
Here's Alice's amazing story so far!
Iwo Jima memorial in Washington, DC at the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon
So after receiving my Bachelor's degree in Biology at the UNSC-G I worked for a year at two jobs (a veterinary technician in a small animal practice and as a laboratory technician at a local hospital) while I took a few prerequisite courses at NC Agricultural and Technical State University. It was at NC A& T that I met the man I would later marry after I graduated from veterinary school almost 5 years later:-)
I practiced companion animal medicine for 2.5 years, but after a little more than a year in practice, I realized that I was not going to be happy practicing for the next 30+ years. In North Carolina at that time (1992), about 80% of the caseload in a veterinary practice was dermatology-related, aka "itchy dog or cat." The products available now to control flea and tick infestations weren't around then, and food/environmental allergies were only beginning to be approached in a holistic way. I was giving a lot of cortisone injections and educating on how to control fleas on the pet, in the yard, and in the home, to which many owners would say, "Doc, I don't really care why he's scratching, just give him a shot to make him stop." I loved it when a good internal medicine case came in the door, because I loved to solve a complex problem, but there weren't enough of those to offset all the itchy dogs and cortisone injections!
When I was deciding what I wanted to do next with my career, I thought back to the courses I really enjoyed in vet school. Epidemiology and public health were at the top of the list. Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that studies the distribution of health-related events in a population, and then applies that knowledge to control or prevent health problems. I was back to solving mysteries by following the clues! Epidemiologists work in many different settings, but I found my niche practicing public health and epidemiology as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force.
I entered active duty in January 1994, and because I had a doctoral degree, I came into the Air Force as a Captain. Most people would look at my rank and assume I'd been around awhile, but I was brand new and had to act like I knew what I was doing:-)
My first assignment was Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX. If you think of a military base as a city, and the base commander as the Mayor of the city, I was the base Public Health Officer, which is similar to running the local health department in that small city. My team and I inspected restaurants, ensuring proper sanitation and hygiene to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks, investigated disease outbreaks, interviewed and educated patients with communicable diseases to identify others who may have been exposed and to break the chain of infection. I also managed an occupational health program, travel medicine program, and briefed deploying military personnel on how to stay healthy when they deployed to countries around the world where infectious diseases frequently occurred.
Over the years, I've had a wide variety of assignments as an epidemiologist, faculty member, a full-time graduate student, an intelligence analyst, commander, an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and public health consultant. I've lived in 7 different states and 1 foreign country, and traveled throughout the U.S. and South Asia (Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Australia).
One of my dream assignments was as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. EIS officers are called the "disease detectives." Whenever you hear about the CDC going to investigate a disease outbreak somewhere, you can be sure there are EIS officers involved. I investigated several human rabies cases, a large outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever affecting mostly young children on a Native American Reservation, a flying squirrel-associated typhus outbreak at a wilderness camp, and did some of the follow-up work on the monkeypox outbreak associated with pet prairie dogs that occurred in 2003. Working with other epidemiologists at CDC was definitely one of the highlights of my career. I still keep in touch with colleagues there.
Alice and her family in Tokyo, Japan
Buddhist Temple in Tokyo, Japan
Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan
Mt. Fuji, Japan, Alice climbed this massive mountain in 2002
Hindu Temple in Singapore
I went to Seoul on a shopping trip with friends. Seoul is the shopping capital of South Korea! Just about anything you can think of can be found there in large outdoor markets filled with vendors. You can also have clothes custom made. I had a dress, a skirt, and blazer made while I was there. We also took one day to visit the Demilitarized Zone, which is a 2.5 mile buffer of land between North Korea and South Korea and contains a meeting place where discussions between the two countries’ leaders take place periodically. It’s somewhat alarming to look across the DMZ through binoculars and see North Korean soldiers standing on guard and watching the border. We also traveled underground through tunnels that are thought to have been dug by North Korean soldiers for possible invasion into Seoul.
Goats in Mindanao Village, Philippines
My family and I took one trip to Australia when we were living in Japan, figuring we were closer than we’d ever be again to that continent. We wanted it to be quintessential Australia—Koala bears, kangaroos, crocodiles, Tropical Rain Forest, and the Great Barrier Reef. All this can be found in Tropical North Queensland. We stayed in a hotel near the beach at Cairns. The water and beaches are spectacular. Since Australia is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. We visited in November, but that’s nearly summer time there! We took a night tour of the zoo, which was really cool. We were each given flashlights and at one point we were standing over the crocodile pit. All you could see of these creatures was their eyes when the light reflected in them. Then we turned our flashlights out and listened as the zookeeper threw food into the pit and the crocs thrashed around after it—very creepy and thrilling! The tour ended in an area where we were able to feed kangaroos a kind of campfire bread. I was surprised how small the animals were. We also took a day tour of the Great Barrier Reef. The surf was rough on the trip out to the reef, but once we arrived and transferred to a giant pontoon-like platform, we spent the day snorkeling, learning about the sea life that called the reef home, and took a submersible down under the water to see the coral reef up close. It was a wonderful trip!
Here is more information about this helicopter:
Boeing CH-47 Chinook - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_CH-47_Chinook
Boeing CH-47 Chinook - http://www.boeing.com/defense/ch-47-chinook/
Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter History Site - http://www.helis.com/60s/CH-47_Chinook.php
Boeing CH-47 Chinook YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PGY2C7-HS0
Links of Interest:
US Air Force - https://www.airforce.com/
The University of North Carolina Greensboro - https://www.uncg.edu/
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University - http://www.ncat.edu/
WHO/Epidemiology - http://www.who.int/topics/epidemiology/en/
Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas - http://www.goodfellow.af.mil/
San Angelo, Texas - http://www.sanangelo.org/
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Epidemic Intelligence Service - http://www.cdc.gov/eis/
City of Atlanta, Georgia - http://www.atlantaga.gov/
Japan-Guide.com - http://www.japan-guide.com/
Japan - Lonely Planet - https://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan
Tokyo City Guide - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2164.html
Kyoto Official Travel Guide - http://kyoto.travel/en
The City of Hiroshima - http://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/english/
Visit Singapore - http://www.yoursingapore.com/en.html
Singapore - Lonely Planet - https://www.lonelyplanet.com/singapore
Korea.net - Official Site of the Republic of Korea - http://www.korea.net/index.jsp
South Korea - Lonely Planet - https://www.lonelyplanet.com/south-korea
Visit Seoul - The Official Travel Guide to Seoul - http://www.visitseoul.net/en/index.do
Philippines - Lonely Planet - https://www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines
Philippine Department of Tourism - http://www.experiencephilippines.org/
Manila - Lonely Planet - https://www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines/manila
Visit Australia Travel and Tour Information - http://www.australia.com/en-us
Australia.gov.au - http://www.australia.gov.au/
Cairns and Great Barrier Reef's Official Tourism Site - http://tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au/
Great Barrier Reef - Australia's Great Natural Wonder - http://www.greatbarrierreef.org/