Duty calls, Poulsbo doctor answers

POULSBO — Some kids dream of growing up to be doctors, others hope to earn their wings as pilots, but Roger Ludwig Jr. wanted to do both.

And now he is.

A family practice physician and senior aviation medical examiner at The Doctors Clinic in Poulsbo, Dr. Roger Ludwig Jr. is also a part of the 142nd Fighter Wing, 142nd Medical Group and 123rd Redhawk Fighter Squadron of the Oregon Air National Guard, and he’ll be taking his medical expertise to Baghdad, Iraq this month.

“I’ve always been a part-timer,” he said lightly of his military involvement, which he began in Portland, Ore. in 1998 during his medical residency.

But there’s nothing part-time about his commitment. Despite a country torn over U.S. military presence in Iraq, Ludwig said supporting American troops is a duty he will not forsake.

“It’s not our decision to question what we’re being asked to do,” he said. “It’s our obligation to serve as we’ve promised.”

Though he’s served in Denmark, Iceland, Belize and various places throughout America for sometimes a month at a time, Ludwig said this will be the longest assignment he’s had away from his family, and his first experience in Iraq.

“She’s always been very supportive,” he said of his wife, Michele. He plans to keep in contact with her and their two children, Marissa and Wesley, via webcam.

And while his tour, which is expected to finish in January, will keep him from home for 10 weeks, Ludwig is looking forward to the opportunity to get back into the cockpit of the F-15 Eagles he loves.

“It’s an alter ego,” he said. “That’s the advantage.”

Ludwig, a flight surgeon, will serve at Camp Sather, the Air National Guard’s Emergency Medical Station located at Baghdad International Airport. With a mission to serve troops in the area, Ludwig said he expects for the most part to attend to minor traumas, air evacuations and general troop health.

“It had been a very busy location, but now as Baghdad calms, the emergency medical station calms,” he said. “From what I’m hearing from doctors in the area the trauma is way down.”

Ludwig’s last day at The Doctors Clinic is Nov. 8. He will begin seeing patients again Jan. 28, 2008, providing his tour is completed as scheduled. Fellow physicians at the clinic will provide care to his patients during his absence.

Ludwig has been with The Doctors Clinic since 2000, and is a member of the North Kitsap Rotary and the American Legion. He lives with his family in Silverdale.

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