Founder of Hawai‘i’s First Air Ambulance Turns 101
The man who founded Hawaiʻi’s First Air Ambulance celebrated his 101st birthday on Tuesday at Tripler Army Medical Center on Oʻahu.
Richard Barcheski, who is also a World War II veteran and former Hawaiian Airlines pilot, attributes his secret for living so long to “Two things”: his wife of 65 years (who has since passed) and Tripler Army Medical Center.
Barcheski served for 20 years in the US Air Force. As a Maj., he led his airmen into the deadly conflicts of World War II. He was also one of the many pilots who delivered a total of 2.3 million tons of cargo to allies during the Berlin Airlift.
Upon retiring from the military, Barcheski’s wife continued to support and encourage his love for flying as a civilian. Barcheski served as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines for 30 years, before founding the first Air Ambulance in the State of Hawaiʻi.
Every year on the 17th of July, Jaclyn Griffin decorates a small section of Tripler’s Vascular Surgery department with balloons, pictures, food, and a birthday cake for Barcheski. She’s been his Nurse Practitioner for the past eight years.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to care for heroes like Mr. Barcheski,” said Tripler’s new commander, Col. Mary V. Krueger, “Our staff strives daily to provide the highest level of care to ensure we have that patient-care team trust,” said Krueger.
Barcheski explained that he has been through many different medical facilities throughout the world, but he said none surpassed the service, care, and customer appreciation that he received from Tripler Army Medical Center. “I am thankful for the entire staff who’ve been working from 1943 to now. You’ve helped to keep my heart beating,” Barcheski said with a grin. “No better place to spend my birthday than with the caregivers at Tripler, who feel like family to me.”
Today, Barcheski has four children, 14 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.