Colonel Moore: The White House medical officer

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. These acts brought America to a screeching halt; nothing else that day seemed to matter. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on that Tuesday morning, and the destiny of a generation changed forever. This is a 10 part series about those serving in the military and how their stories paint a picture that shaped today's Air Force.)

"On the morning of Sept. 11, I had been working at the White House for little over a month," said Lt. Col. Brian Moore, 355th Medical Operations Squadron commander. "I was in the old executive office building which is on the White House compound. They operate a clinic there, so I was seeing patients on a gorgeous September day in D.C. I had walked out into the waiting room where people were watching T.V. and commenting on a collision at the Twin Towers in New York. At first, everyone thought it was a potential airline accident, but when the second plane hit the other building, we knew something was happening."

"My name is Colonel Moore. I'm from Pennsylvania and I joined the Air Force in 1985. I had just graduated from high school two years prior and enlisted in the Air Force to get a medical career field job. I switched over and became an officer in 1993."

Colonel Moore held many positions before his time working at the White House.

"I was a physician assistant working at Wilford Hall Medical Center in the emergency department and had just completed a trauma and emergency medicine fellowship," Colonel Moore said. "I was then moved to the Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute, where I was teaching people in my field, trauma-training at the combat casualty care course. The opportunity became available for physician assistants to apply for a position at the White House. It was a position I was very interested in, so I began to go through the rigorous process of applying."

Colonel Moore was accepted for the position in 2000 and started in August of 2001. The week of Sept.11, Colonel Moore received his blue-badge, which means his security clearance had went through and he would start his job of being one of the medical officers to treat the president, vice-president and their families. He describes his job as being overwhelming at first. He rarely wore his uniform, always a business suit and worked closely with other government agencies, especially the Secret Service. He was just starting to get adjusted to the job when the attacks happened.

"Initially, there was a lot of confusion," Colonel Moore said. "As the morning pressed on, there were more credible threats from potentially inbound aircrafts to the D.C. area. This prompted the Secret Service to issue an evacuation order for the White House. The streets of D.C. were filled with people because this was after the Pentagon was struck. Our orders were to collect all of our staff and form a casualty collection point somewhere on the north side of the city, in close proximity to the White House and Capitol building in case we needed to respond to any other attack in the city."

After the attacks, Colonel Moore and the other medical officers gathered up equipment in case of another attack, located everyone on their team and awaited further instructions. When more instructions came, they were told to evacuate the city. Everyone was on standby in case they were needed.

"The next morning we reported back to work," Colonel Moore said. "We had several meetings and based on threats still in the city and the potential for further attacks, we built a plan on how we were going to support the president and vice-president."

After 9/11, Colonel Moore describes his job changing from being more of an ambassador for the military, because he was taking care of the president and vice-president, to being more of an operational job.

"We changed our training program so we were able to be more trauma and preventive focused," Colonel Moore said. "We worked a lot closer with the Secret Service as far as emergency response actions. Our travel rotations changed considerably. When we went to look at places where the president and vice-president were going to travel, we took a different approach to ensuring their security and safety."

Even today, the events of 9/11 still have had a profound effect on Colonel Moore.

"I have a hard time watching documentaries or things like that," Colonel Moore said. "We evacuated the White House because we were a target, so it's very moving for me to think about that day. But I was also proud to be so close to senior leadership of the government and see how they could spring into action. Despite the chaos, they were able to function, execute and make decisions."

Being able to see firsthand the inner working and what goes on in the government has had a profound effect on Colonel Moore's leadership.

"It was definitely a joint job, all parts of the military were represented, so I was able to learn a lot from the other services," Colonel Moore said. "It made me very proud to be an Airman because I was amazed at how much the military supported national leadership. It was an honor to know I was one of hundreds of people who were directly supporting the president and vice-president, and making very difficult decisions at a very difficult time. I think overall, it has made me a very rounded Airman and a better commander.