Growing up in Lebanon, 2nd Lt. Billy-Joe Liane never dreamed he would be where he is today. However, the opportunity to be a part of the American culture he had closely followed as a child presented itself, and he took it.
Liane left home six years ago to pursue his education in the United States, completed his undergraduate studies in biological sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and along the way, became a U.S. citizen.
The motivation to serve is different for many but for Liane, a huge part of that motivation came from being sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
“I felt the joy, the pride and the glory of being a defender of the American nation and its principles. I consider my commitment to the armed forces a token of appreciation and gratitude for the United States for providing me with so much opportunity,” Liane said.
After completing his first year as a medical student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Liane had to choose a program for his summer experience. Of the programs available, Liane said the Top Knife program stuck out to him.
“I want to know what flight doctors do and how they take care of pilots and the aircrew staff, and be familiar with the basics and tactics of the F-16,” he said. “I wanted to learn what it’s like to be on the forefront of the mission and help pilots accomplish that mission.”
Liane got his chance to experience just that, as the latest of opportunities to come his way landed him here at Luke Air Force Base for a spot in the Top Knife program.
Program instructors here at Luke say the students get more than just a classroom experience.
“The medical students got a unique opportunity to experience the Top Knife program which provides flight surgeons assigned to a fighter aircraft the chance to get a higher level of familiarization with the aeromedical aspects of high performance flight,” said Capt. Christopher Reichlen, 56th Training Squadron Top Knife course director.
The program lasts two weeks and provides a hands-on experience for the students. The first week focuses on academics and flying specifics about the aircraft, tactics and the human factor. The second week involves flying and the opportunity to experience what the aircrew goes through on a regular basis.
“This experience has been a dream come true,” Liane said. “I never thought I would have an opportunity like this, especially growing up overseas. But I am so grateful for where I am right now. I’ve gained so much more respect for the pilots and what they go through, both the mental and physical stress. I’m more motivated to finish strong with my medical studies to provide the best care for the pilots and aircrew because they deserve it.”