LTC Mo Umar is a physician assistant who is the descendant of the lost Champa Kingdom in what is now Central Vietnam. He was born in Cambodia and survived the genocide after the Khmer Rouge Regime forced his family into the countryside and then placed them in a concentration camp. He and his father were the only ones who survived; the rest of his family members died from starvation. At the end of the war, he fled as a refugee and after two years of slogging through jungle, minefields, active battlefields, and refugee camps, he arrived in America in 1982.
Appreciating America’s kindness, LTC Umar enlisted in the US Army in 1992. He completed the Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP) and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 2003. LTC Umar immediately deployed to Iraq as a physician assistant and platoon leader with 4th Infantry Division. He also served as a flight physician assistant in a combat aviation brigade and an acting senior brigade physician assistant with 4th Infantry Division. In 2005, he earned a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies degree from the University of Nebraska.
In 2010, he graduated from Baylor University with a Doctor of Science in Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant (EMPA) Studies, after which he was assigned to 121st Combat Support Hospital (CSH) as deputy chief of the emergency department. LTC Umar went on to serve as chief of the emergency department at Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital and 121st CSH with dual garrison and operational missions in the Republic of Korea until 2015. He directed 24/7 on-call medical support to all MEDDAC-K (Medical Department Activity of Korea) clinics and participated in twelve hospital level committees, including the Executive Committee of Medical Staff and Risk Management. In 2014, he planned and executed a successful full scale highly infectious disease (Ebola) response exercise in collaboration with the Korea CDC (Center for Disease Control), Yongsan Public Health Department, Force Health Protection, and United States Forces Korea (USFK) Surgeon Cell. This exercise provided a framework for the emergency care and transfer of highly infectious disease patients to host nation hospitals.
LTC Umar is currently the director of the integrated US Army/Air Force-Baylor University EMPA fellowship program at Brooke Army Medical Center. He is a Baylor University graduate faculty member who holds an assistant professorship with Baylor University and an adjunct professorship with University of Texas Health Science, San Antonio (UT Health). He has mentored and trained over thirty EMPA and precepted over 40 IPAP and UT Health PA students.
His awards include two Bronze Star medals, Meritorious Service Medal, seven Army Commendation Medals and seven Army Achievement Medals. He was highlighted by the American College of Emergency Physicians in its 50th Anniversary book “BRING ’EM ALL: Chaos. Care. Stories from Medicine’s Front Line”.
LTC Umar answered the nation’s call with a deployment to the Balkans and three deployments to Iraq. He also deployed to Vietnam supporting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s effort in looking for remains of service members. He is a member of numerous national PA organizations. He enjoys learning more about conducting research. He hopes to learn more about his ancestry and has been happily married for 25 years with three beautiful children.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by LTC Umar. It was submitted to the Society in September 2019. Photographs are courtesy of LTC Umar.
Disclaimer: The authors’ views do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.