Gen. David. L. Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, surprised Air Force personnel last Friday with news of a recent medical diagnosis.
“First things first,” he told the audience at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. “Chief, what’s with the crooked face and the weird speech?”
Goldfein described his recent 19-day tour of the Pacific with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. During the trip, he visited the Korean peninsula, flew with the Indian Air Force, met with the International Air Chiefs and stopped off in Guam.
Though calling the trip “spectacular,” Goldfein admitted it had affected his health, with him waking up recently and finding half of his face was frozen. He was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a temporary facial paralysis.
Goldfein told the crowd that the condition was fully recoverable and that he was on the mend, joking, “It only hurts you when I laugh.”
It turns out that Goldfein is in good company. Gen. Curtis LeMay, the former chief of staff of the Air Force, had Bell’s palsy and started smoking cigars to hide the facial disfigurement.
Goldfein told the crowd that he was being treated with acupuncture by Col. Richard Niemtzow, 70, an Air Force physician.
“He was born the year the Air Force became a service, and his passion is bringing battlefield acupuncture to the point of injury,” Goldfein said. “He’s still serving in our service. And he’s not going to stop until we have battlefield acupuncture, which is producing incredible results by the way, at the point of injury and bringing it to the battlefield and across our medical industry.”