MILLCREEK, Utah — This Veterans Day has a special meaning for a Millcreek doctor after he reached his forty year anniversary of military service back in August.
Dr. Mark Moritz is a rear admiral with the U.S. Navy Reserves and a podiatrist at MountainStar Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital.
Inside his office, every room is covered with antiques, nautical décor and posters from World War I and II.
“I think I have the best of both worlds. I have my private practice and I still get to work for the Navy,” he said.
Moritz joined the military back in 1981. He’s served in Beirut and in the Gulf War as a combat corpsman. The Navy had a need for podiatrists and helped pay for his education. Moritz made his way up to Navy Chief and was promoted as Rear Admiral in 2019.
“It was an eyeopener. I never thought I’d be here,” he said. “I’m honored.”
When the pandemic hit back in spring of 2020, Moritz said he got a call from the Navy asking if he was essential to St. Mark’s Hospital.
“They were like, ‘Well, if you’re not COVID-essential we could absolutely use you.’ And I’m like, ‘A foot doctor?’ And they’re like, ‘No, we need an admiral and we need you to lead our team,’” Moritz said.
He was gone for six months and appointed as the task force commander in charge of COVID-19 testing for the entire U.S. Navy. He developed a testing and quarantine system, visited the Pentagon and worked at the headquarters for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
“I’ll never forget what some of the three or four-star admirals or generals told me. They spent their whole lifetimes training for war, but they weren’t really expecting a pandemic,” he said. “And Navy medicine became the spearhead of this pandemic.”
Since his return back to Utah, he continues to serve as the deputy commander of the Navy Medical Forces Pacific, but also enjoys working in his clinic and bonding with other veterans over their love and service for their country.
“I have everybody from World War II to Vietnam, Korean War veterans,” he said. “So to come back and share my stories and let them know what’s going on, how strong our sailors are, the Marines, what they are doing out there in the fleet to change things and get through this and still remain a strong nation, they’re excited.”