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THE NEW YORK TIMES
A Man of Many Professions: Richard Henry Carmona
By ROBERT PEAR
March 27, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All Rights Reserved.
President Bush nominated Puerto Rican Richard Carmona for surgeon general.
WASHINGTON, March 26 Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the man chosen by President Bush to be surgeon general of the United States, has an M.D. and a master's degree in public health, but he also has experience in law enforcement and on the battlefield, which may help him cope with the threat of biological terrorism.
Dr. Carmona, a 52-year-old trauma surgeon, is a deputy sheriff in Pima County, Ariz., and won two Purple Hearts for combat wounds in the Vietnam War.
Richard Henry Carmona is something of a rags to riches tale. Born in Harlem on Nov. 22, 1949, Carmona was the first member of his family, which came from Puerto Rico, to graduate from college. In 2000, he was honored by the National Association of Police Organizations as one of the nation's "top cops."
A biography supplied by the Pima County sheriff's office makes clear that Dr. Carmona took a circuitous route to the top of his profession.
"A street kid from a poor Hispanic family, he dropped out of high school, like most of his friends," it says. "At 17, with no education and no job, he enlisted in the United States Army. He later received his high school equivalency diploma (G.E.D.) and went on to a very successful career in the Army Special Forces."
Dr. Carmona received a bachelor's degree, in biology and chemistry, in 1976 and his M.D. in 1979, both from the University of California at San Francisco. The biography provided by his office says he graduated first in his medical school class.
After completing his residency and a fellowship at university hospitals in San Francisco, Dr. Carmona moved in 1985 to Arizona. He started the region's first trauma care program and was director of trauma services at Tucson Medical Center.
Since 1986, he has been a doctor for the Pima County Sheriff's Department and a leader of its SWAT team.
"Dr. Carmona is not only an accomplished trauma surgeon with tremendous experience in public health and medicine generally," said Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff. "He brings a whole new dimension to the job of surgeon general, with his knowledge of law enforcement, bioterrorism, special operations, hazardous materials and emergency medical response."
If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Carmona would become the 17th surgeon general, the nation's leading spokesman on public health issues, supervising uniformed officers in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service.
In 1992, Dr. Carmona inspired a television movie by lowering himself from a helicopter to rescue a person stranded on a cliff. In 1999, he happened to be driving by an accident scene in Tucson while in plain clothes and saw an enraged driver attacking a woman; when he stopped to help, the driver shot at Dr. Carmona, who was grazed in the scalp and then shot and killed the driver.
Dr. Carmona is a clinical professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson and a member of the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners.
In 1998, he received a master's degree in public health from the University of Arizona. He joined the American Public Health Association in February of this year, said Carole L. Zimmerman, a spokeswoman for the organization, which represents 50,000 public health professionals.
David O. Landrith, vice president of the Arizona Medical Association, said that Dr. Carmona had been on the board of the association. "We've known him a long time," Mr. Landrith said. "We worked diligently to help him when he applied for the surgeon general's position. He is an excellent candidate, a very bright man, and will do a good job."
Sheriff Dupnik said Dr. Carmona kept so busy that he seemed to have "three sets of legs and six arms."
Dr. Carmona offered a possible explanation in an interview with The Arizona Republic: "My wife says I'm overcompensating for not doing well the first half of my life. It's my sense of having to make up for lost time."
Profile: Richard Henry Carmona
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
BORN: Nov. 22, 1949, in New York City.
HOMETOWN: New York City.
EDUCATION: B.S., University of California at San Francisco; M.D., University of California at San Francisco Medical School; residency and fellowship, University of California at San Francisco Hospitals; master's in public health, University of Arizona.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: United States Army, 1967-70; clinical professor of surgery, public health and family and community medicine, University of Arizona, 1985 to present; department surgeon and deputy sheriff, Special Operations Section (SWAT), Pima County Sheriff's Department, 1986 to present; chairman, State of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System, 1990 to present; professional consulting services, 1999 to present.
FAMILY: Married to Diana Sanchez, two sons and two daughters.
HOBBIES: Physical fitness.