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Veteran Spotlight: Naval Reserve Cmdr. Ronald Nasif

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
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FALMOUTH, Mass. — Ronald Nasif served his country in the Naval Reserve for 30 years, retiring as a commander. 
Growing up in Boston, he majored in biology at Boston College, where he also lettered in football for the Eagles. He would go on to Tufts Medical School but took a year off graduate school and taught during the busing crisis of the 1970s.
"[Grad school] was always a challenge. It really changes your perspective on life, you give up a lot," he said. "It's a pretty straight and quiet life, affects your character and personality."
Nasif accepted his commission in 1981. 
"It was a learn-on-the-job experience and I would have been totally lost without my corpsmen. They taught me a great deal — how to salute, where to bunk, how to order supplies. Civilian hospitals were always supportive of me," he recalled. 
He would be assigned to Pensacola, Fla., for flight medicine training as an aviation medical officer. 
"I authorized pilots and approved them for flight, I also learned how planes and helicopters worked," he said. Returning from Pensacola, he finished his studies on being an orthopedic surgeon. "It was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment as I contemplated a career in the Navy."
In his new capacity, Nasif would do two weeks of training every year to an abundance of naval hospitals around the country. 
"Forty-50 years ago, naval hospitals were in abundance. In my career, I probably worked 40-50 military hospitals, including two overseas in Okinawa and at Tripler Medical Center in Hawaii," he remembered. 
When asked about the holidays, he offered this:
"I typically did my tour around the holidays, my tour allowed a physician to be with his/her family," he said. "I always felt good about that." 
Regarding mentorship, he gave immense credit to his commanding officers. 
"My commanding officers made an extreme effort to have us blend in. As a reserve officer, I was always called on to fill the gap," he said. "The COs knew I was there to back them up. I respected them as much as they did me."
Cmdr. Nasif would go onto be deployed twice — in the first Persian Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
"Realized we in the military weren't making policy at all," he said of his first deployment. "I would tell colleagues to not give their opinions. We're here to do our job. It still bothers me of the lives we lost over there." 
He shared a story from that time. 
"We were in Kuwait at a base, teaching civilians how to use gas masks in case of an attack," he remembered. "It was a tough language barrier. Then they brought in about 30 kids. A supply plane came in and brought a bunch of bicycles and we gave them to the kids. 
"They were saying 'We love America.' It was a great sight. In retrospect, I can remember seeing the night sky lit up from the oil wells Saddam Hussein set on fire. It reminded me how wasteful war can be." 
Thoughts on service? 
"Honored to serve the greatest country in the world. It was a wonderful experience," he said. 
He currently serves on the Veterans Council in Falmouth and the Disabled American Veterans. Cmdr. Ron Nasif, thank you for your service to our great country.
Wayne Soares is the host of the popular new veterans cooking show, "The Mess Hall" that airs Saturdays on NBC's NECN at 9:30 a.m. He also entertains our troops around the globe and is the host and producer of the Vietnam veterans documentary "Silent Dignity – The Chapter That Never Ends." He can be reached at

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