LANSING, Mich.—Since November 2018, retired Col. Kevin Bohnsack, the Michigan Air National Guard (MIANG) State Air Surgeon (SAS), enhanced the abilities of the Michigan ANG to perform its state and federal missions while coordinating medical assets for local and national emergencies. Bohnsack recently retired after 25 years of service and the State of Michigan is set to receive its new State Air Surgeon in July.
With duties overseeing medical qualifications, accessions, and fitness for duty determinations of more than 2,500 Airmen statewide, the senior MIANG medical officer reflect on his experiences and tenure throughout his career.
“I’m honored to have had the privilege to support so many diverse mission sets during my career, from starting out with the A-10 and F-16 fighter communities, moving on to the support of many other warfighters and peacekeepers,” said Bohnsack. “The dedicated Airmen from active duty, Guard and Reserve were trusted mentors, colleagues and friends throughout my career.”
As the state’s top doctor, the senior flight surgeon also supported the State Partnership Program, working with Liberia and Latvia on medical matters.
“We are fortunate to have a joint team working on various health-related initiatives with our partner nations,” said Bohnsack. “Our recent efforts in Liberia, for example, enabled their military hospital to increase capabilities for the evaluation and treatment of their Armed Forces personnel and families. We are also regular contributors to the annual African Partnership Outbreak Response Alliance conference that mitigates the threat of emerging pathogens on the African continent.”
“Those wins are the gratifying part of my job,” he added.
Bohnsack, who flew more than 450 hours in over 10 different aircraft, obtained medical experiences that expanded outside the state, broadening his operational mindset and aptitudes.
“Supporting humanitarian missions in Afghanistan and Ghana projected the good will and caring that call us to the profession of medicine and healing,” he said. “Additional training and treatment events like Tropic Care in Kaua’i helped me and my fellow medics sharpen our skills and exercise an expeditionary mindset.”
“Besides my other overseas deployments to Iraq, Kyrgyz Republic, and the United Arab Emirates, I was able to apply my expertise and experience to field training and domestic operations here at home through my National Guard service,” he added.
The State Air Surgeon also participated in not only annual training events, but also real-world state operations during the recent pandemic.
“For the majority of my state-level tenure, I’m proud of our whole of government response during the pandemic, saving lives with Air and Army Guard members working alongside each other to provide detection, treatment and prevention of COVID-19 for our fellow Michiganders,” said Bohnsack.
As Bohnsack retires, Col. James R. Parry is slated to become the Michigan Air National Guard’s next top medical professional.
“I am honored to provide Airmen of the Michigan Air National Guard the medical readiness they need as we continue supporting state and Department of Defense missions around the world,” said Parry. “We will continue the State Air Surgeon mission and maintain awareness of initiatives ensuring force health protection is maintained throughout the state and limit issues impacting an organization’s mission readiness.”
Like Bohnsack, Parry comes with a variety of experience to lead the Michigan Air National Guard medical team to the future. However, the new state surgeon didn’t start his military career as an officer.
“I enlisted in 1986, spent 4 years in food service and 6 years as an enlisted intelligence analyst where I obtained the rank of Tech. Sgt.,” said Parry. “I commissioned in 1997 and spent over 17 years as an intelligence officer and at one point was chief of Intelligence with the 110th Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.”
Parry plans on benefiting from his diverse background and touches on how that helped excel his career.
“I think the diversity of jobs is what I am proud of the most and what makes me like no other flight surgeon in the Air Force,” he said. “If you would have asked me in 1986 when I was a cook that one day I would be a Colonel, I would have laughed at you. I want to show the enlisted force that anything is possible with hard work and determination and that I am always available for mentoring.”
As a senior flight surgeon, Parry has more than 550 flight hours, more than 100 combat flight hours, and has experience in flying in three separate aircraft.
“I will be leaving my current assignment as the Air National Guard Assistant to the Air Combat Command Surgeon at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, to become the Michigan Air National Guard State Air Surgeon beginning July 1,” said the Kosovo and Afghanistan campaign veteran. “As the senior medical officer for Michigan, I am focused on significant medical issues with Michigan Airmen and other issues that impact medical readiness.”
“I am proud and excited to be selected to be entrusted in medical readiness for the state and I am looking forward to serving Airmen assigned to the Michigan Air National Guard,” he said.