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Published: Wednesday, 7/23/2008

OSU grad was flight surgeon on downed bomber

BY JEB PHILLIPS
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The Air Force confirmed today that a graduate of Ohio State University s medical school who became a flight surgeon was among six people who died when a B-52 bomber crashed on its way to Guam on Monday.

As a student at Ohio State, George Martin had posters of the galaxy on his apartment walls. Astronauts were celebrities to him he seemed to know all of their names.

He wanted to fly. He joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and graduated in 1980. A bad knee kept him from space, but he still craved it, one of his classmates said. He went on to medical school at OSU, and he later specialized in emergency medicine and aerospace medicine. He became a flight surgeon.

On Monday, Martin was one of six people riding on a B-52 bomber that crashed heading to a Guam Independence Day celebration. The Air Force declared all members of the crew dead today.

The remains of two people have been found, and officials continue to search for others. One of the recovered crew members was identified as Maj. Christopher Cooper, but the other name was withheld while the military notified his family.

Martin worked with the Air Force and NASA. He was eventually promoted to colonel and stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, an American territory nearer to China than to the continental U.S.

He was able to get up every day and do what he loved, said Dr. Randy Cox, a family medicine physician in Cincinnati, a friend of Martin s in college and medical school.

Three classmates talked of Martin, who was 51 according to public records, yesterday as ambitious and analytical, someone who knew his goals and how to attain them. He loved basketball and the Buckeyes, they said.

He was a good person with a great sense of humor, said Dr. Alvin Jackson, the director of the Ohio Department of Health.

In a 1998 interview on a NASA website, Martin talked about the joy he got from his job, then at The Kennedy Space Center, where he treated astronauts and other staff members.

His first memory as a child, he said, was watching John Glenn blast off. His love of biology took him to medical school, to a residency at Johns Hopkins and to an Air Force emergency department. He said he was able to convince the Air Force in 1994 to let a few doctors get into the space medicine business.

I think I have one of the best jobs any doctor could ever have, he said.

Reporter Rick Rouan contributed to this story.



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