Army doc, 74, soldiers on toward 3rd tour overseas

Army doc, 74, soldiers on toward 3rd tour overseas

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) - Dr. John Burson balked when a skeptical Army staffer asked him to undergo a three-day physical exam to make sure he was fit to deploy as a field surgeon to Afghanistan.

The 74-year-old Burson pointed out that he was training to run a half-marathon.

Burson was declared fit for duty. The ear, nose and throat specialist from northwest Georgia wrapped up a weeklong training course this week at Fort Benning before his scheduled deployment for a 90-day rotation with a unit of the 101st Airborne Division.

He says the first of his two stints in Iraq proved unforgettable.

Burson was among several doctors assigned to keep watch over an imprisoned Saddam Hussein.

Several of Burson's uncles and cousins enlisted during World War II, and that inspired him to seek an Army officer's commission in the 1950s.

Burson retired from military service in 1985 and thought he'd hung up his uniform for good. Then an e-mail came a few years ago from the Army's surgeon general, who was seeking retired military doctors to volunteer for rotations in Iraq.

Burson sent a reply asking if he was too old. The answer led to his first war tour.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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