Mayo Clinic cardiologist follows heart, gives back to troops

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Both a fathers dream for his son's success and a sons desire to serve his country, finally came true in pursuit of the American dream October 24.

Dr. John F. Beshai, Arizona Mayo Clinic cardiologist and senior associate consultant, took the Oath of Office for the United States Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and more specifically the 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron during a short ceremony here.  His wife, eight month old son and mother were also there.

Beshai has been a doctor for over 20 years and is one of 31 cardiologists at the Mayo Clinic. He practiced in Chicago and even served as the team cardiologist for the Chicago Blackhawks before coming to Arizona in 2013. His main reason for joining the Air Force at age 46 is as humble as the man himself, to give back to the troops and to serve the country that has given him so much.

Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944th Fighter Wing commander, tendered the Oath of Office and welcomed Beshai to the unit. Gallegos expressed how lucky the Wing was to have him and how lucky Beshai was to be a part of a wing like the 944 FW.

Beshai was an infant when his family came to America in 1969 via Jersey City, New Jersey, looking for better opportunities and with hopes for a better life, like so many immigrants in the past. A Coptic Christian born in Egypt, raised in Ohio, Beshai was brought up with values of spirituality, respect, appreciation, and earning everything with hard work and perseverance.

At age 15 he found his life's calling when his father was diagnosed with heart disease and had to have open heart surgery at age 45.

"Having to watch my dad go through that ordeal was when I knew I wanted to be a cardiologist and to one day be able to care for him," said Beshai.

His father survived the surgery but later succumbed to pancreatic cancer at age 63 and never got to see the results of his efforts and sacrifices for his children's success. Beshai's only other sibling is his younger sister, who is a surgeon.

The interest to serve his country has been growing inside throughout his life but out of respect for his father's wishes to go to college and obtain a better life, Beshai decided not to.

"Over the years, as I became more successful in my career, I became more appreciative and thankful for the opportunities I had that this country has given me and recognizing that those opportunities and freedoms came with a very heavy price," said Beshai.

His interest in joining the Air Force Reserve started in 2009 but proved to be unobtainable after a series of circumstances prevented him from joining. In 2013, he moved to Arizona and met Col. Curtiss Cook, 944 ASTS commander and Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and Chair, Division of Endocrinology, Mayo Clinic Arizona. Cook, peaked his interest in joining the military once again, before eventually getting in contact with Master Sgt. Randi Cross, AFRC health professions recruiter, who helped guide him through the recruiting process.

"I believe his actions send a message that Dr. Beshai lives by the Air Force core values already; integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do," said Cross. "I have recruited over 500 members into the Air Force Reserve over my tenure as a recruiter but I must say that Dr. Beshai is one of the most accomplished, skilled professionals that I have had the pleasure of working with."

Beshai has a long list of accomplishments including completing fellowships in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Medicine, and Internal Medicine. He was the Associate Director of the Heart Rhythm Center and Director of Pacemaker and Defibrillator Services at the University of Chicago; his Curriculum Vitae includes his research activity, peer reviewed manuscripts, and book chapters that he has had published. He is a fellow of the American Heart Association, Heart Rhythm Society and he is an internationally renowned researcher and invited speaker to many courses and conferences on the subject.

"Dr. Beshai always expressed an interest in giving back to his country," said Cook. "As a cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr. Beshai brings unique skills and knowledge that will enhance our education and training mission to better prepare us for medical contingencies."

It is common for health professional to receive monetary incentives for joining, but Beshai is joining without receiving anything based on the fact he is going into an overage slot. In fact, he originally thought his commitment to the AFRC would be volunteer work and that he would not get paid.

His unselfish desire to care for the men and women in uniform and use his skills and expertise to train and mentor his fellow medical professionals has finally happened. He has achieved yet another goal he set out to complete, to wear the U.S. Air Force uniform.

"When there is a calling far greater than what you do every day and you have a passion and desire to do something [serving the country] you have to follow that at any cost," said Beshai. "The fact that our service men and women are going abroad to fight that fight for our people, I can't sit back and watch, I have to be a part of that, I have to be able to help them."
Beshai will be filling a flight surgeon billet and is scheduled to report for his first unit training assembly in January.

"His strong commitment to serve has put the needs of the Air Force Reserve before himself and his family," said Cross. "Hopefully, this sends a message to other potential recruits that while there are many benefits to being a member of the Air Force Reserve, you must have the desire to be part of something bigger than yourself."