S Ward Casscells III

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 20 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7842
  1. Ned Stafford, freelance journalist, Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Cardiologist and inventor who joined the US military in his 50s and served in Iraq

Texas Heart Institute Office of Public Affairs

It was a life changing moment. S Ward Casscells was telling his 8 year old son about his father, a captain in the second world war who had served as trauma surgeon to the troops of General George S Patton in North Africa and Italy, and who received six battle stars.

Casscells showed his son a uniform that his father had worn. The boy touched the uniform and looked up at his father and wanted to know whether he, too, had served his country. It was November 2004, and Casscells was 52 years old. He had been of military age during the Vietnam war, but he admitted, no, he had not served.

“I was filled with shame,” Casscells later recalled. He made a monumental decision after the experience with his son. He announced to his wife that he was going to drive to the army recruitment centre in Houston to inquire about joining the army reserve.

“His brain was an ideas factory”

Samuel Ward Casscells III, born in Wilmington, …

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