Paul N. Cervone, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist at Monongahela Valley Hospital, was promoted from Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard on Saturday, Jan. 7.
Dr. Cervone, who is also a partner in the Valley Women’s Health practice at Monongahela Valley Hospital, becomes one of the highest ranking officers in his unit and one of only 40 colonels among the 15,000 active members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
The Rostraver Township resident has been a member of the Guard for 16 years, and served in Iraq and Kosovo with the Guard’s 28th Combat Aviation Brigade as brigade flight surgeon.
At a formal ceremony at the Fort Indiantown Gap Armory near Harrisburg, Brigade Commander Col. David Wood read Dr. Cervone’s promotion letter and retired Brig. Gen. Barney Pultz placed the colonel rank insignia on his uniform.
Ellen Cervone then removed her husband’s hat and replaced it with one displaying his new rank.
Family, friends, guests, and fellow National Guard members attended the ceremony, where Dr. Cervone also received the Bronze Star, the fourth highest combat award in the U.S. Armed Forces. He received the Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone during his nine-month deployment as brigade flight surgeon with the 28th in Iraq, which began in April 2009.
“Promotions like this never happen in a vacuum. A promotion like this seems to be about that person, but it’s really about everyone who contributed to make that person successful,” Dr. Cervone told the crowd at the ceremony. “It’s for all the troops because they are the ones on the ground fighting; and for our families back home waiting for us and for those at home who keep our businesses and our country running. It’s especially for my wife and children, who really bore the brunt of the true sacrifice while I was deployed.”
During the ceremony, Wood called him “a soldier’s doctor, who while deployed, passionately served the injured but was also there for the soldiers personally.”
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Dr. Cervone earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1987. He completed his residency at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital, where he was the chief resident in the department of obstetrics and gynecology.
He was commissioned in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as a medical student in the 1980s and served six years.
“I left the guard for eight years before 9-11, and to give you an idea of the level of commitment from my wife and family, the first thing my wife said to me when I walked in the door on 9-11 was, ‘When are you going back to the Guard?’” Dr. Cervone said.
He and his wife Ellen, a nurse at the Valley Women’s Health practice, have three children – Eric, 23, a second-year law student at Notre Dame University; Nicole, 21, who just graduated summa cum laude from Duquesne University in Communications and Joseph, 20, a sophomore in the University of Pittsburgh’s emergency medicine program.
“We are very proud of Dr. Cervone. Here is a man who gives of himself for his family, his patients and his country,” said MVH President and CEO Louis J. Panza, Jr. “He put himself in harm’s way in Iraq and Kosovo to help others and to make the world a better place, even extending his tour. He very much deserves this honor.”
Physicians usually deploy for only 90 days on missions, but Dr. Cervone volunteered for a total of 17 months, citing “the critical need for experienced medical providers.”