General Bernie Mittemeyer, a Hometown Hero

Published: Jul. 11, 2012 at 11:59 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 1:58 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - General Bernie Mittemeyer is a three-star general and an accomplished medical doctor; but this patriot hasn't always been an American citizen.

Mittemeyer immigrated to the US in 1944 with his family.

"That was the beginning of our living in this great country… This is a great nation and I'm proud to be an American," Mittemeyer said.

The 81-year-old had dreams of becoming a doctor, so when the Korean War broke out, Mittemeyer was able to avoid the draft and finish medical school.

"When I finished college, they deferred me again, because I was expected to go to medical school and they figured they'd rather have me as a physician than a second lieutenant," Mittemeyer said.

Mittemeyer went through training and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division as an Army surgeon.

"I went airborne because as a Dutchman from Holland, my parents were from Holland and I felt that I would at least go into a division that liberated Holland. I went through airborne training and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division," Mittemeyer said.

As his career progressed, Mittemeyer was given a chance to finally become a citizen of the country he was serving.

"In retrospect, it was probably the greatest day of my life. I love this country," Mittemeyer said.

Mittemeyer served in Vietnam as a surgeon, not only for the country he loved, but for the people who fought on the front lines.

"I basically lived underground. We got shelled every night. I lost a lot of fine young medics… I enjoyed military medicine because I was taking care of the people that I honored, the people that did everything for their country that they could," Mittemeyer said.

Mittemeyer was promoted to Brigadier General when he was just 47. Throughout his 38 years in the Army he served as the Commanding General of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and even as Surgeon General of the United States.

After his retirement, Mittemeyer came to Texas Tech, where he's held numerous positions including Executive Director of the Health Sciences Center. TTU Chancellor Kent Hance has gotten to know him well throughout the years.

"He came here when he was 14. He worked his way up the military and became a three-star general. Do you know how many three-star generals there are? We're proud to have him here in Lubbock, Texas," Hance said.

Hance says Mittemeyer remains humble and is quick to give credit to others.

"He's just a great person. He served in Vietnam, he got the Bronze Medal, he's gotten all kinds of medals, but you'll never know it talking to him. It's like pulling teeth to get anything out of him about himself because he truly gives others the credit. He is a great American and a true patriot," Hance said.

If you ask Mittemeyer, he really does credit his country and the people around him for his success.

"You got to listen and you got to look down and take care of your troops. It may be good for you, but if it's not good for them, think twice," Mittemeyer said.

Mittemeyer still serves part time at Texas Tech as a professor of Urology. He also works at the VA Clinic in Lubbock. Mittemeyer is a strong supporter of the South Plains Honor Flight. Coming this October, the program will take a group of World War Two veterans to Washington D.C. to see their monuments.

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