He was a Military Man

 In Veterans

Remembering Dr. Forrest M. Bird


he late Dr. Forrest Bird deserved every honor and recognition received for his life long contributions to mankind; the list honors awarded is amazing. This NY Times article is a very well-written piece about Dr. Bird and some of his accomplishments:

The following, in italics, is an excerpt from the article: Dr. Bird was an experienced pilot by the time he joined the Army Air Corps a week after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. For much of World War II, he was assigned to training and transport commands, studying aeronautics and ferrying bombers, fighters and transport planes from aircraft factories to airfields across the United States, and to operational squadrons in Europe, the Pacific and Asia.

During the war he studied high-altitude respiration problems, he said in an interview with The New York Times for this obituary in 2010. American pilots were using breathing regulators that restricted altitudes to 28,000 feet, but modifications he made to a captured German regulator were adopted by the Army and enabled test flights to climb to 37,000 feet by the war’s end. He said his research proved invaluable years later when he began to design medical respirators.

He left mankind quite a legacy, affecting our health and survival from birth throughout our lives when he invented the first highly reliable, low-cost, mass-produced medical respirator in the world. The ‘Babybird’ respirator, introduced in 1970, quickly reduced infant mortality for those with respiratory problems from 70% to less than 10% worldwide. For this, President Bush awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal to Dr. Bird for saving more lives than about anyone in history.

Remember the TV program M*A*S*H? Between the Korean War and the Vietnam War when a soldier was shot, a medic would tie off the bleeders and put the patient on a stretcher to be transported to a MASH unit (real life) or a hospital in a neutralized country. Planes and/or helicopters were only used for transport. Dr. Bird invented the lifesaving devices used in transport that we now know as Medivac.

If Dr. Bird had not pioneered the ventilator no one could do open heart surgery, organ transplants of any nature, or surgeries of any kind. The ventilator is also a lifesaving device whenever immediate medical attention is needed.

Dr. Bird left another legacy — the Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center. Forrest and his wife, Pam opened the doors of this FREE museum in 2007. It houses a fascinating and extensive collection of inventions (including an iron lung, in use until Dr. Bird’s respirator), a Military Display of WWI & WWII memorabilia from all branches of the military & a special NASA display, many classic airplanes and automobiles. No two people could be considered more visionary than Drs.Forrest and Pamela Bird. And —the very BEST PART? — the Bird Museum is local to us, located in Sagle, Idaho. It is open year ‘round, welcomes individuals and groups of all ages, has a cafe on site, is available for private events. There is no reason at all why anyone would not find the museum a very worthwhile experience. Go!  Learn!  Experience this truly generous and profound legacy the Bird’s have provided for us all.

For more information, call 208-255-4321, www.birdaviationmuseum.com.

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