• Charles Lindbergh wears a Mayo-developed high-altitude mask to test bail-out techniques for the P-47 pursuit aircraft.

  • Mayo developed the G Suit during World War II.

  • This centrifuge simulated flight conditions for World War II aero-medical research.

  • Dr. Earl Wood pioneered Mayo Clinic research for the US military.

  • Dr. Earl Wood's computer lab was the base for multiple US military research projects.

  • In the late 1970s, Mayo Clinic helped develop the Dynamic Spatial Reconstructor (DSR).

  • The Dynamic Spatial Reconstructor (DSR) provided moving 3-D images of bodily organs.

The story of Mayo Clinic's tradition of service to the military is long and rich and filled with compelling examples of commitment, bravery and ingenuity.

In 1864, military service brought the Mayo family to Rochester, Minn., when the Lincoln administration appointed Dr. William Worrall Mayo to serve as an enrollment surgeon for the Union Army during the Civil War.

World War I

  • The Mayo brothers (Drs. William J. and Charles H. Mayo) served with the surgeon general for medical military preparedness during World War I. They were highly decorated by the U.S. and several Allied governments.
  • Mayo Clinic fielded medical units on the western front in France.
  • Mayo physician Col. Dr. Louis B. Wilson contributed greatly to the war effort and the future of laboratory medicine by establishing more than 300 medical laboratories for the American Expeditionary Forces.
  • The American Legion in Rochester, Minn., hosted a visit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in which the president thanked the Mayo brothers for their medical care of World War I veterans, naming them "teachers of America."

Between World Wars I and II, Mayo Clinic continued to participate in support of the military activities of the Army and Navy. In 1919, the Mayo brothers had the extraordinary foresight to propose a Uniformed Services University to provide a dedicated corps of medical officers training in the special medical needs of military conflict.

World War II

  • Mayo Clinic fielded medical units in the Pacific theater.
  • Dr. Donald Balfour led three-month training courses in Rochester, Minn., for more than 1,500 medical officers.
  • Dr. E. Starr Judd and Dr. Henry S. Plummer were recognized for their military educational activities and contributions to the war defense effort.
  • It was during World War II that Mayo Clinic began its proud tradition of excellence in aeromedical research.
    • Dr. Earl H. Wood and a Mayo team introduced the G-suit along with the M-1 (short for Mayo One) maneuver, equally important in resisting G-forces. Today, both remain in use by military pilots around the world.
    • Mayo scientists worked secretly with Charles Lindbergh to establish the first procedures for surviving parachute jumps from 40,000 feet.
    • Mayo scientists developed an in-flight oxygen mask for pilots and passengers.

Art and human culture

Mayo integrates art and human culture to create awareness of the sacrifices made by our military:

  • Plummer Building carillon bells. The carillon in the Plummer Building is dedicated to the American soldier. By tradition, every carillon concert begins with "My Country 'Tis of Thee," in tribute to the U.S. military and our nation.
  • Ride 2 Recovery. Both Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Mayo Clinic in Florida hosted the Ride 2 Recovery Challenges, which are cycling events that include injured war veterans and raise funds for mental and physical rehabilitation programs for our nation's troops.
  • Dr. William Worrall Mayo's Civil War papers. A Mayo Clinic Heritage Hall research project recently located Dr. Mayo's oath of office and other Civil War papers in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
  • Documentary film on Dr. Frederick Helmholz. This documentary film highlights the late Dr. Helmholz, who was the last surviving leader of Mayo Clinic's history-making World War II aerospace medicine team.