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59th Medical Wing Air Education and Training Command.png
59th Medical Wing.png
Emblem of the 59th Medical Wing
Active 21 August 1941 – present
Country United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Medicine
Part of Air Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQ Lackland Air Force Base
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Major General Byron Hepburn

The 59th Medical Wing (59 MDW) is a wing of the United States Air Force assigned to Air Education and Training Command, stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

The 59 MDW is the Air Force's premier medical unit. It operates Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, which is now part of the San Antonio Military Healthcare Systems (SAMHS). The wing provides global medical readiness capability and comprehensive peacetime healthcare benefits through education, training and research. Previously referred to as SAMMC-South, this designation was dropped under agreement with the Army, and its name changed to Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgery Center.

The wing's original unit, the 59th Observation Group was formed in 1941 under 1st Air Support Command. Originally an antisubmarine patrol unit, the group later became a replacement training unit (RTU) for fighter pilots with its graduates assigned to another group for overseas assignment. The organization's official lineage begins in 1941, and by taking on the shield and ancestry of the 59th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1993, the center was able to save the history of a World War II unit and preserve its own World War II service.


59th Clinical Support Group

  • 59th Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron
  • 59th Laboratory Squadron
  • 59th Pharmacy Squadron

59th Dental Group

  • 59th Dental Squadron
  • 59th Dental Support Squadron
  • 59th Dental Training Squadron

59th Medical Operations Group

  • 59th Medical Support Speciality Squadron
  • 59th Medical Operations Squadron
  • 59th Surgical Operations Squadron
  • 59th Mental Health Squadron
  • 59th Radiology Squadron
  • 59th Surgical Specialty Squadron

59th Medical Support Group

  • 59th Medical Support Squadron
  • 59th Medical Logistics and Readiness Squadron

359th Medical Group (former 12th) at Randolph

  • 359th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
  • 359th Dental Squadron
  • 359th Medical Operations Squadron
  • 359th Medical Support Squadron

559th Medical Group (former 37th) at Lackland

  • 559th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
  • 559th Medical Operations Squadron[1]

959th Medical Group (former 59th Inpatient Operations Group)

  • 959th Medical Operations Squadron
  • 959th Inpatient Operations Squadron
  • 959th Clinical Support Squadron

Clinical Departments

  • Anesthesiology
  • Audiology
  • Cardiology
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • General Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Refractive Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Speech Pathology
  • Urology
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics
  • Podiatry
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Medicine
  • Allergy-Immunology
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology-Oncology
  • Infectious Disease

  • Internal Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Pulmonary
  • Rheumatology
  • Mental Health
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Neonatology
  • Obstetrics
  • Gynecology
  • Radiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacy
  • Hyperbaric Medicine
  • Nutritional Medicine
  • General Dentistry
  • Endodontic
  • Oral-Maxillofacial
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Preventative Medicine

Non-Clinical Departments

  • Family Advocacy
  • Health and Wellness Center (HAWK)
  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
  • Team HELP
  • Trainee Health



  • Established as 59 Observation Group on 21 August 1941
Activated on 1 September 1941
Inactivated on 18 October 1942
  • Activated on 1 March 1943
Redesignated as: 59 Reconnaissance Group on 2 April 1943
Redesignated as: 59 Fighter Group on 11 August 1943
Disestablished on 1 May 1944
  • Redesignated as 59 Tactical Fighter Wing on 31 July 1985 but remained inactive
  • Consolidated (1 July 1993) with Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, which was first designated as the 3700 Medical Squadron on 25 August 1948
Organized on 26 August 1948
Redesignated as: 3700 Station Medical Squadron on 1 November 1948
Redesignated as: 3700 Medical Group on 27 June 1950
Redesignated as: 3700 USAF Hospital on 16 October 1953
Redesignated as: USAF Hospital, Lackland on 1 July 1958
Redesignated as: Wilford Hall USAF Hospital on 2 March 1963
Redesignated as: Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center on 1 July 1969
Redesignated as: 59 Medical Wing on 1 July 1993
Redesignated as: Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on 15 September 2011


  • USAF Aerospace Medical Center, 1 October 1959
Attached to Aerospace Medical Division, 1 November 1961 – 14 April 1962




  • BC-1A, 1941–1942
  • L-59, 1941–1942
  • O-46, 1941–1942
  • O-47, 1941–1942

  • O-49, 1941–1942
  • O-52, 1941–1942
  • P-39, 1943–1944
  • P-40, 1944.


The 59th Observation Group was established at Newark, New Jersey, in 1941. It moved to Fort Dix, New Jersey, later in the year. Following the US entry into World War II the Group engaged in antisubmarine patrols along the East coast of the United States from December 1941 – October 1943. Initially during 1941–42 the Group operated a wide range of aircraft, including the BC-1A, L-59, O-46, O-47, O-49 Vigilant, and O-52 Owl During 1943 and 1944 the group trained pilots using P-39 Airacobra aircraft and later, in 1944, the P-40 Warhawk as well. The unit was redesignated the 59th Reconnaissance Group on 2 April 1943, and again as the 59th Fighter Group on 11 August 1943. The 59th was inactivated on 1 May 1944.[2] On 31 July 1985, the unit was redesignated the 59th Tactical Fighter Wing, but remained inactive. Finally, it was reactivated and consolidated with the Wilford Hall U.S. Air Force Hospital on 1 July 1993.

During the Korean War, the 3700th Medical Squadron developed a program to train basic trainees as medical corpsmen to ease shortage of medical personnel.

From 1983, Wilford Hall offered centralized outpatient care, a clinical investigation facility, the Air Force's largest dispensary system, and the only eye bank and organ transplant centers. The hospital accomplished important research work in neonatal medicine, surgical transplants, orthopedic surgery, rheumatology, immunology, and maxillofacial surgery. Clinical investigations research kept the wing at the forefront of development of high-frequency ventilation and extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation; new techniques for the care of premature infants; improved cancer treatments; bone banking and transplantation; laser photocoagulation; and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In December 1989, it provided medical support to casualties returning from operations in Panama. From 4 January to 21 March 1991 Wilford Hall deployed over 900 personnel to RAF Little Rissington, England, to establish a 1500-bed hospital in support of expected casualties from the Gulf War. In 1993 the Medical Center was redesignated the 59th Medical Wing, taking the lineage of the never-active 59th Tactical Fighter Wing.

Closure and realignment

The current building is projected for demolition in 2015, when it will be replaced with a state-of-the-art 680K square foot facility. Starting on September 15, Wilford Hall Medical Center was officially renamed to Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, the largest outpatient surgical center in the Air Force. Inpatient services are no longer provided at Lackland Air Force Base, but are centralized at nearby San Antonio Military Medical Center – formerly known as Brooke Army Medical Center, or BAMC, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Both facilities and all other military treatment facilitites in the San Antonio area fall under the San Antonio Military Healthcare System (SAMHS). Design of the four phase project is underway, and construction is for the new surgical center has already commenced.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links

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