Both a father’s dream for his son’s success and a son’s desire to serve his country came true Oct. 24.
Dr. John Beshai, Arizona Mayo Clinic cardiologist and senior associate consultant, took the oath of office for the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, and more specifically the 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, during a short ceremony here. His wife, eight month-old-son and mother were also there.
Beshai has been a doctor for more than 20 years and is one of 31 cardiologists at the Mayo Clinic. He practiced in Chicago and even served as the team cardiologist for the Chicago Blackhawks before coming to Arizona in 2013. His main reason for joining the Air Force at age 46 is as humble as the man himself – to give back to the troops and to serve the country that has given him so much.
Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944th FW commander, tendered the oath and welcomed Beshai to the unit. Gallegos expressed how lucky the wing was to have him and how lucky Beshai was to be a part of a wing like the 944th.
Beshai was an infant when his family came to America in 1969 via Jersey City, New Jersey. Like so many immigrants, they were looking for opportunity and had hopes for a better life than they had left. A Coptic Christian born in Egypt, raised in Ohio, Beshai was brought up with values of spirituality, respect, appreciation, and earning everything through hard work, and perseverance.
At15, he found his life’s calling when his father, 45, was diagnosed with heart disease and had to have open-heart surgery.
“Having to watch my dad go through that ordeal was when I knew I wanted to be a cardiologist and to one day be able to care for him,” Beshai said.
His father survived the surgery but later succumbed to pancreatic cancer at 63. He never got to see the results of his efforts and sacrifices for his children’s success. Beshai’s only other sibling is his younger sister, who is a surgeon.
The interest to serve his country had been growing inside Beshai throughout his life but out of respect for his father’s desire for him to go to college and obtain a better life, Beshai followed his wishes.
“Over the years, as I became more successful in my career, I became more thankful for the opportunities this country has given me, he said. “Those opportunities and freedom came at a great cost.”
His interest in joining the Air Force Reserve started in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2013 when he moved to Arizona and met Col. Curtiss Cook, 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron commander and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and endocrinology division chair, Mayo Clinic Arizona. Cook peaked his interest in joining the military once again, before eventually getting in contact with Master Sgt. Randi Cross, AFRC health professions recruiter, who helped guide him through the recruiting process.
“I believe his actions send a message that Dr. Beshai lives by the Air Force core values already; integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do,” Cross said. “I have recruited over 500 members into the Air Force Reserve over my tenure as a recruiter, but I must say that Dr. Beshai is one of the most accomplished, skilled professionals that I have had the pleasure of working with.”
Beshai has a long list of accomplishments including completing fellowships in clinical cardiac electrophysiology, cardiovascular medicine, and internal medicine. He was the associate director of the heart rhythm center and director of pacemaker and defibrillator services at the University of Chicago; his resume includes his research activity, peer reviewed manuscripts, and book chapters that he has had published. He is a fellow of the American Heart Association, Heart Rhythm Society and an internationally renowned researcher and invited speaker to many courses and conferences on the subject.
“Dr. Beshai always expressed an interest in giving back to his country,” Cook said. “As a cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr. Beshai brings unique skills and knowledge that will enhance our education and training mission to better prepare us for medical contingencies.”
It is common for health professional to receive monetary incentives for joining, but Beshai is joining without receiving anything based on the fact he is going into an overage slot. In fact, he originally thought his commitment to the AFRC would be volunteer work and he would not be paid.
His unselfish desire to care for the men and women in uniform and use his skills and expertise to train and mentor his fellow medical professionals has finally happened. He has achieved yet another personal goal, to wear the U.S. Air Force uniform.
“When there is a calling far greater than what you do every day and you have a passion and desire to do something [serving the country] you have to follow that at any cost,” Beshai said. “The fact that our service men and women are going abroad to fight that fight for our people, I can’t sit back and watch, I have to be a part of that, I have to be able to help them.”
Beshai will be filling a flight surgeon billet and is scheduled to report for his first unit training assembly in January.
“His strong commitment to serve has put the needs of the Air Force Reserve before himself and his family,” Cross said. “Hopefully, this sends a message to other potential recruits that while there are many benefits to being a member of the Air Force Reserve, you must have the desire to be part of something bigger than yourself.”