Veteran's Day Spotlight: MS1 Alexander Hilser

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Meet Alexander Hilser, a first year medical student at the College of Medicine - Tucson. After deployments in Somalia and Afghanistan, Hilser is now a technical sergeant at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and an aspiring trauma surgeon.

My name is Alexander Hilser. I am an MS1 (class of 2026) and the president of the College of Medicine - Tucson Student Government. I served in the Air Force as active duty from December 2014 to July 2021 where I became a Pararescueman with the 48th Rescue Squadron (RQS). During that time, I was deployed to Djibouti and Somalia in 2018 where I worked as the primary medic on a Personnel Recovery Jump Team as well as the primary medic on a Pavehawk based Combat Search and Rescule (CSAR)/Casulaty Evacuation (CASEVAC) team. I was also deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2020 where I was the Assistant Team Leader for the only Personnel Recovery/CSAR platform covering all of south and west Afghanistan.

After leaving active duty in 2021, I moved to the Air Force Reserves with the 306th RQS on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Now that I am in the reserves, I serve one week every three months to keep up my qualifications, which include static line/free fall jumpmaster, dive supervisor, combat diver, paramedic, technical rescue specialist, swift water rescue technician, snow/ice rescue and confined space rescue. I was previously an E-5 (Staff Sergeant), but I was recently promoted on Nov. 1 to E-6 (Technical Sergeant) since I just completed my team leader upgrade in October. 

As a side note, I also am a rescuer for the volunteer-based Southern Arizona Search and Rescue (SARA) where I mainly do rescues on Mt. Lemmon and surrounding Pima County. I've actually done four rescues since starting school.

My time as a pararescue (PJ) specialist taught me how to think critically, adapt to severe conditions, work hard while physically exhausted and on little sleep, and how to lead a team. If that doesn't describe my time in medical school to a tee so far, I don't know what would. For residency, I am leaning heavily toward surgery with a focus on trauma surgery.