Maj. Christopher Cordova has used his experience during the deadly battle at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, to further improve medical care on the front lines. During the October 2009 battle, Cordova kept a severely wounded soldier alive for several hours. It likely was the first time an Army doc conducted a fresh whole blood transfusion under fire on the battlefield. Cordova was awarded the Silver Star for his action.
The prior-enlisted soldier's work and ensuing research has since been shared with military medical professionals across the force. In 2014, it was picked up by Norwegian special operations troops and is also being used to help the 75th Ranger Regiment further train its medics. Cordova is working with a fellow PA at the 75th Ranger Regiment on research into how to stop bleeding from wounds that can't be compressed by a tourniquet.
In 2014, Cordova launched a multisite study to assess how well PAs across the Army are able to diagnose ankle fractures , something that has never before been measured.
When he's not working, Cordova is a big advocate of physical fitness, especially as it helped him cope with the horrors of battle. In 2014, he was a mentor for the young quarterbacks who were part of the Elite 11 2014, helped implement the return of the West Point duathlon, and was heavily involved in Team Red, White and Blue, a veterans group whose mission is to connect vets to their communities through physical and social activity.
Notable quote from his nomination: "He is a once-in-a-generation officer."
A prior-enlisted sailor and soldier, Capt. Deems McKee commands 333rd Signal Company, which has more than 100 members stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and in Guam. Taking over a unit with morale problems stemming from unfavorable shift schedules and a discontinued Family Readiness Program, McKee worked toward improving unit productivity and soldier quality of life, replacing a 12-hour shift schedule with eight-hour shifts, hosting regular town hall meetings to encourage family involvement, and improving and consolidating training programs to allow for more flexible scheduling and more capable troops.
The unit received multiple honors for its work in 2014, completing more than 200 satellite communications missions involving everything from support of naval exercises to searches for missing aircraft (including the Indonesia Air Asia Flight 8501). McKee also led a series of community relations efforts: outreach to local schools, monthly nursing home visits and support for the Special Olympics.
Notable quote from his nomination: "He allows his actions and results to speak on his behalf and is 100% dedicated to his mission and his soldiers and their families."