JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --
The 514th Air Mobility Wing is filled with people from all over the world, with very different backgrounds and careers. One of its latest additions is no exception.
Doctor Jonathan Trager is an emergency medicine physician and currently the medical director of St. Luke’s University Health Network Emergency & Transport Services and Critical Care Transport. He is also a flight physician with Geisinger Life Flight.
As of June 9th, Trager is also a major in the United States Air Force Reserve. He was commissioned by Lt. Col Julia. Wriglesworth of the 514th Aeromedical Staging Squadron in front of fellow 514 ASTS members, friends, and family.
Originally from Montreal, Trager got his start in medicine as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician while attending university. At the time, Quebec did not offer any advanced paramedic training, and Trager, frustrated by the limited care he was able to provide patients, chose to advance his skills through paramedic training programs in the United States.
“I always had an interest in the ability to help people get better or have quality and dignity at the end of life,” Trager said. “I chose critical care medicine because of the vast array of treatment modalities available to try and correct abnormal physiology.”
During his paramedic training, he met his wife, Traci, a radiology technician. Eventually, they moved to York, Pennsylvania, and Trager later pursued his medical degree.
Trager had been considering joining the military for several years and almost joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard several years ago. The timing and role were not right for him and his family, and luckily for the 514th, Trager waited.
“I’ve always been interested in the military from a young age, running around playing military games with my cousins and brothers,” he said. “My father took me to our airport in Montreal to watch planes take off.”
His family is also not a stranger to the military. Several of his family members served during WWII, including his paternal grandfather, who was in the Royal Rifles of Canada, his maternal grandfather, who was in the Air Cadets of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and his great uncle, who was a rear gunner in a bomber.
“He has wanted to do this for as long as I can remember,” Trager’s wife, Traci, said.
Trager was specifically interested in the Critical Care Air Transport Team, but did his due diligence before jumping into this role, however. He recommends for anyone interested in joining the military to talk to people who are currently serving and get the real picture. He said to make sure you really look into the area you want to specialize in.
“I have some friends who are in the CCATT community and I spoke with them and did a lot of research on my own,” he said. “I decided this was the next best challenge for me. I wanted to take what I do in the civilian world and amplify it.”
Joining the military was not an easy decision for Trager. In addition to his busy work life, he and his wife have two children together, as well as two dogs, two fish, and eight chickens. Trager wanted to make sure everyone understood what sacrifices might have to be made and that everyone was in support of this decision.
“I decided it was time, and the opportunity presented itself at the 514 ASTS, so I took it,” said Trager. “What other service can I join where I get the opportunity to fly and do what I love to do from a medical standpoint from the back of a very large jet?”
Trager is very grateful for his recruiter, Master Sgt. Beadling, who he says was absolutely phenomenal.
“I’m still in touch with him today and he is helping me through other challenges that arise,” Trager said. “He actually met my family at the welcome center to assist them on the day of wing family picnic.”
Trager also said that it is awesome to be a part of an organization like this, and already feels like he has joined a big family.
“Everyone is very supportive,” he said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find another community or environment like this.“
Over the next year, Trager will have to complete Reserve Commission Officer Training followed by the CCATT basic course at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He will then go on to the CCATT advanced course at the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills in Cincinnati.
“It is a big commitment,” Trager said of his decision. “I’m going into a realm now where I’m used to being in charge and now acquiescing to those who are a higher rank. But I know you have to do what’s in the best interest of the greater good, and I readily accept that.”
Trager is excited to get started and take advantage of the various educational opportunities offered not just for his skillset, but for leadership and advancement.
“There are certainly a lot of challenges in joining the military, but there are also a lot of unbelievable opportunities that the military offers that I don’t think you can really find in the civilian world.”
Trager truly believes in giving back to the community and pursuing a higher calling. He also believes there is serendipity in joining the Freedom Wing as his area code in Montreal was also “514.”
“Obviously, there is a great purpose here as well and I get to serve my adoptive country,” he said. “This is a great way to pay back and serve this country, community, and do something for the greater good in a realm that I am used to from an EMS background.”
The 514th Air Mobility Wing is excited to have Maj. Trager and his family join ours.