BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA0) -- At a time in life when most people are thinking about retirement, Dr. Fred Lough, at 64, is going back into to active duty with the Army.
"I was given the skills by the country to be a physician and to employ those skills for those that are serving in harm's way, to ease the burden of their wounds, save lives. That is just a great opportunity and a great gift. I am thrilled to be able to do this on a daily basis and to be back in the Army," said Lough.
Dr. Lough is leaving his position as Director of Cardiac Surgery at George Washington University Hospital to join the surgical teaching staff at the Uniformed Services University at Walter Reed Medical Center.
"Fred represents the best of us across the board, both as a surgeon and as a military physician. He's a master clinician, he's a surgical leader. He's trained several generations of surgeons," said Dr. Eric Elster, Professor and Chief of Surgery at the USU.
As a member of the Army Reserves, Lough was recently deployed twice to Afghanistan and performed hundreds of surgeries in tents. Last year, he was part of a Forward Surgical Team (FTS) close to the fighting near the Pakistani border providing support for the 173 Airborne Brigade.
"We were being mortared and rocketed on a daily basis. Casualties and fatalities occurred on our base," said Lough.
He was there when the base was severely damaged by a fuel truck bomb, which destroyed the surgical unit. It was rebuilt in hours.
When Fred Lough was an engineering student at West Point in 1970, he toured the construction of the World Trade Center. Twelve years ago, Dr. Lough found himself back at the demolished towers to treat the injured after the towers came crashing down.
"I remember seeing the I- beams that normally are horizontal were all bent like wax candles because of the heat and flames. It was an astonishing event," recalled Lough.
On this 9-11 anniversary Colonel Lough decided it was good day to recommit himself to his country to help train the next generation of surgeons.
Lough said he joins just one other member of his West Point class still in active duty.
Dr. Lough's friends say he bleeds green and that the Army is like his second family. Not only did he go to West Point, so did four of his children, and his father, who was in three World War II invasions and then continued on with a 40-year military career.