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South Carolina Air National Guard bids farewell to "Doc" Chow

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr (left), the Adjutant General for South Carolina, presents the U.S. Air Force Legion of Merit to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jim Chow, the State Air Surgeon and Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Feb. 8, 2015. Brig. Gen. Chow retired with thirty years of service to the South Carolina Air National Guard and the 169th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr (left), the Adjutant General for South Carolina, presents the U.S. Air Force Legion of Merit to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jim Chow, the State Air Surgeon and Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Feb. 8, 2015. Brig. Gen. Chow retired with thirty years of service to the South Carolina Air National Guard and the 169th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr (left), the Adjutant General for South Carolina, presents a retirement certificate to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jim Chow, the State Air Surgeon and Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Feb. 8, 2015. Brig. Gen. Chow retired with thirty years of service to the South Carolina Air National Guard and the 169th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr (left), the Adjutant General for South Carolina, presents a retirement certificate to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jim Chow, the State Air Surgeon and Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Feb. 8, 2015. Brig. Gen. Chow retired with thirty years of service to the South Carolina Air National Guard and the 169th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jim Chow speaks to an audience of family and friends during his retirement ceremony. The South Carolina Air National Guard and the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base celebrates Brig. Gen. Chow’s thirty years of service during a retirement ceremony, Feb. 8, 2015. Brig. Gen. Chow served as a flight surgeon for the 169th Fighter Wing and recently as the State Air Surgeon and Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jim Chow speaks to an audience of family and friends during his retirement ceremony. The South Carolina Air National Guard and the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base celebrates Brig. Gen. Chow’s thirty years of service during a retirement ceremony, Feb. 8, 2015. Brig. Gen. Chow served as a flight surgeon for the 169th Fighter Wing and recently as the State Air Surgeon and Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- Surrounded by family, friends, dignitaries and his fellow Swamp Fox, South Carolina Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Jim Chow closed the door on a 30-year military career, Feb. 8.

Dr. Chow is a local physician at the Columbia Skin Clinic specializing in skin cancer surgery and dermatologic reconstructive surgery. He is a nationally-acclaimed doctor and a previous U.S. Air Force Medical Officer of the Year. 

South Carolina's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., lauded Chow for his military medical work and work with veterans.

"He is a treasure and we're really going to miss him," Livingston told the crowd. "He is a wonderful person."

During his 30 years of military service, Chow was a flight doctor, State Air Surgeon and Air National Guard Assistant to the Air Combat Command Air Surgeon. Most recently, he was the Special Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard providing medical advice to senior military leadership.

One of Chow's lasting impacts on the military is the work he has done for wounded service members through an initiative he helped create called Patriot Docs. While watching news coverage of the Battle of Fallujah in 2005, Chow said he felt compelled to help. He immediately went to work recruiting the best specialized civilian surgeons in the country to volunteer to help wounded service members returning from battle. Many doctors have since traveled to the military hospital at Landstuhl, Germany to work side-by-side with military doctors, saving lives of severely injured military members. 

"We were able to recruit and attract talent, and our survival rate is high downrange," Chow said of Patriot Docs. 

A graduate of the University of South Carolina and the USC School of Medicine, Chow completed a residency at Vanderbilt University before joining the South Carolina Air National Guard in 1984. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force's Air War College and Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

During his retirement, Dr. Chow was honored with the Legion of Merit, South Carolina Cross and the Guardsman Retirement Medal.

Chow deflected credit of his military service to his family gathered around him.

"If it wasn't for my wife and children, I would not be here today," he said.

Chow said even though he retired from the military, he still plans on giving his time to military and veteran causes.