SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) commemorated its 25th anniversary in celebration of the hospital's dedication (Jan. 23, 1988) and official opening (Jan. 30, 1988) at the hospital's flagpole Jan. 23.
The event included the parading of colors by NMCSD's command color guard, a musical performance by Navy Band Southwest, and a ceremonial cake-cutting honoring the oldest staff member, Capt. Dick Turner, Nurse Corps from NMCSD's Multi-Service Market Office, who was commissioned in 1974, and the youngest staff member, Hospitalman Recruit Madison Cowden, who joined the Navy July 2012.
NMCSD and Navy Medicine West Commander Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III delivered remarks, and Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, Commander, U.S. Third Fleet, was the keynote speaker.
Beaman shared his thoughts on the opportunity to commemorate the hospital's 25 years of service to the San Diego military community.
"The history of Naval Medical Center San Diego for the past 25 years is not about the buildings or sophisticated technology. The history of the medical center is about the people," said Beaman. "It is the men and women serving here who truly bring this medical center to life."
Faison shared what it was like to witness the hospital's establishment and later guide its staff into a new era of medical care a quarter of a century later.
"I've had the privilege and honor of coming back to see the command today," said Faison. "The changes that have occurred over those 25 years fill me with pride and to see the one thing that has not changed: caring for others because they needed our help and because it was the right thing to do."
Dr. Gilbert Boswell, a radiologist at NMCSD and audience member during the ceremony, but in 1988 he was an intern going through an obstetrics and gynecology department rotation at the medical center. He shared the importance of celebrating NMCSD's 25th anniversary.
"It signifies the work that has been done here over many years," said Boswell. "It's a nice landmark time to sit back and look at what we've been able to accomplish."
NMCSD's mission is to prepare to deploy in support of operational forces; deliver quality health services; and shape the future of military medicine through education, training and research.
NMCSD's origins began in December 1914 following World War I when Navy medical personnel supported 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment United States Marine Corps under the command of Col. Joseph H. Pendleton through a tent dispensary in Balboa Park.
In 1919, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels re-designated the dispensary as a naval hospital.
Aug. 22, 1922, the first permanent naval hospital opened at Inspiration Point in Balboa Park. The main building was affectionately known as the "Pink Palace" and still stands today as home to the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department.
During the 1940s, the hospital expanded dramatically. M7ore than 172,000 patients were treated by the end of World War II, with the single highest daily patient census of more than 12,000 occurring Dec. 27, 1944.
From 1950 to 1953, during the Korean War, more than 90,000 patients were treated at which was then-known as Naval Hospital San Diego.
A new 1,000 bed surgical expansion was dedicated on May 15, 1957. The building is now known as Building 26 or the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters and serves as a place of healing and recovery for wounded, ill and injured service members.
In 1968, the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) was attacked and captured by North Korea. The 82-man crew was taken prisoner and held 11 months in captivity. Upon release on Dec. 23 of the same year, the entire crew was treated at the Naval Hospital San Diego.
From 1973 to 1974, during the Vietnam War, more than 63,000 patient admissions were cared for as well as many prisoners of war after their release from captivity.
In the 1980s, through Congressman Bob Wilson's leadership, the Navy received approval and Congress appropriated $293 million for hospital construction at the current Florida Canyon location.
The groundbreaking for the new Naval Hospital San Diego took place Oct. 3, 1981. Then on Feb. 27, 1987, hospital staff conducted a 'stepping of the mast' ceremony, a naval custom of placing coins under the foot of a mast at the time a ship is built. Coins were placed at the base of the hospital's 71-foot flagpole commemorating both the old and new hospitals.
Naval Hospital San Diego was dedicated Jan. 23, 1988, and the hospital officially opened Jan. 30, 1988, which included the transfer of approximately 200 patients from the old hospital to the new facility. On May 8, 2008, in gratitude to Representative Bob Wilson for his unswerving dedication to Navy medicine, Congress renamed the main medical building Naval Medical Center San Diego the 'Bob Wilson Naval Hospital.'
Today, NMCSD has a staff of more than 6,700 military and civilian professionals providing health care for a population of more than 92,000 active duty, family members and retired military personnel. It is a 277-bed multispecialty hospital and ambulatory care complex with 13 Branch Health Clinics and 10 Dental Clinics around San Diego.
On any given day, NMCSD staff fills an average of 7,000 prescriptions, conduct more than 4,000 outpatient visits, administer 1,000 vaccinations, and deliver nine babies. In 2012, NMCSD deployed more than 500 personnel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Individual Augmentees deployed to various locations, and in support of Pacific Partnership 2012 aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH-19). NMCSD currently has 99 staff members deployed worldwide.
For more history and information on NMCSD, visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd, www.facebook.com/nmcsd, or www.twitter.com/NMC_SD.