TMCC Veteran of the Month - March 2010
William J. Mehm, Colonel, USAF, BSC, Retired
Chairman and Professor, Department of Biology
I received my bachelor's degree in biology in 1969 from California State University Northridge (CSUN). I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF in 1971 after completing my secondary teaching credential (CSUN) and the two-year AFROTC program at the University of Southern California. My first assignment was at Cannon AFB, NM as a disaster preparedness officer where I served two years. Because of force reductions due to the ending of the Vietnam War, I left active duty in 1973. While at Cannon AFB, I earned a master's degree in biology from Eastern New Mexico University.
After one year of teaching middle school in Los Angeles, I entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Nevada, Reno, and graduated in biology in 1978. During this time, I served as the disaster preparedness officer in the Nevada Air National Guard. Upon receiving the Ph.D., I re-entered the USAF as an aerospace physiologist in the Biomedical Sciences Corps (BSC). I completed post-doctoral work at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass., and the Cell Image Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center (NASA), Houston, Texas. Over my 26 year career I served at the following stations: Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, MD; US Air Force Academy, CO; Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C.; Human Systems Center, Brooks AFB, TX; Physiological Support Squadron (U-2 reconnaissance program), Beale AFB, CA; and the David Grant Medical Center, Travis, AFB, CA.
During my career, I had the opportunity to teach cadets at the Air Force Academy, perform research and author over 30 scientific publications, work with NASA, and serve the U-2 reconnaissance missions in Operation Allied Force. I believe the Air Force offered me opportunities in leadership and professional growth that otherwise would have been difficult to obtain at a young age.
For veterans returning to school after years in the military I suggest you remember the values and skills you learned in the service and apply them to academic life. Certainly order and discipline are important in developing good study habits while honesty and character reflect on academic integrity. People are the same whether they wear a uniform or not. Give everyone the courtesy and respect they deserve and it will be reflected back to you each day. You served your country so now it is time to enhance your education so you can serve yourself and community to the fullest.
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