Now A Doctor, Always A Soldier
by U.S. Army Clemens Gaines, 20th CBRNE Command
May 16, 2021
James Kimball has a history of helping Soldiers. For a decade, he
served as an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 71st
Ordnance Group (EOD) at Fort Carson, Colorado. Later he would serve
as an instructor at the Naval School for Explosive Ordnance Disposal
(the joint services EOD school) at Eglin AFB, Florida.
In May 2021, he began a new level of service ... as an Army
doctor with the rank of captain.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. James Kimball, a former explosive ordnance specialist, studies an anatomy text in the library at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland
on April 7, 2021. Kimball graduated from medical school,
earning the rank of captain in May2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist
Clas3 Brooks Smith)
Kimball began his studies in medicine in 2017 at the F. Edward
Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of
Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. "I love serving alongside the
men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces,” Kimball said. “I am eager
to continue this service in the medical field while providing
support to the members in uniform as well as their families."
Kimball, a Telford, Pennsylvania native, centered his efforts on
his goal of attending medical school while serving on two combat
tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He took all of the required
courses for medical school entry while caring for his critically ill
“My son Matthew was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011,”
said Kimball. “My wife Elizabeth and I spent many months in the
hospital, and we worked closely with a pediatric oncologist.”
After a brief remission, Matthew’s leukemia resurfaced.
“He went through another round of chemotherapy and a stem cell
transplant,” Kimball said. “Those efforts failed. He died during the
summer of 2015. Losing Matthew strengthened my desire to enter the
After succeeding in the challenges of EOD
operations, Kimball found many parallels between EOD training and
the rigors of medical school.
“EOD certainly exists in an
extremely niche aspect of training and learning, but there are
certainly crossovers with medical school,” he said. “Most notably is
the reality that both EOD and medicine require life-long learning
due to the overall vastness of each field.”
“Medicine is proving to be exactly the same in that no matter how
deep you dive or skilled you become, there is still an overwhelming
amount still left to be learned.”
Both fields require
continual dedication to excellence and perseverance to always strive
to perform at a high level, said Kimball.
medical school education involved classroom instruction for the
first 18 months followed by a significant amount of hands-on
Kimball noted that Soldiers bond during
a grueling deployment, and he and his joint-service medical school
classmates bonded through the intensity of medical school. “We have
all shared personal victories and setbacks but shared them together
and pulled everyone along as one. It has been incredible to grow and
develop alongside this exceptional group of professionals and
James and Elizabeth, and their two-year old
daughter Madison, will PCS this summer to Tripler Army Medical
Center in Honolulu where he will begin a residency in general
surgery and treat Soldiers and family members from throughout the
“I am excited to be able to continue to serve
my fellow service members and their families, Kimball said. “It has
been a long challenging road developing the foundational skills of
medicine while in medical school,” said Kimball.
school and entering into a residency begins my path of reinforcing
my foundation and building a more advanced set of skills.”
Note: Minor editing occurred without impacting the story.
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