Spotlight

"I always wanted to serve my country and thought there was a higher purpose..."

As he stood in the freezing cold echo chamber during his six-week training at Officer Development School (ODS), Jimmy wondered more than once why he had decided to do this! He had left his thriving orthopedic sports medicine practice in Potomac, MD, to embark on a dream he had since before medical school.  He has been the team doctor for the US Soccer Team, DC United, and the Washington Spirit, not to mention, many Landon athletes over the years. Gilbert shared, “I always wanted to serve my country and thought there was a higher purpose in life. But life kept getting in the way, first with medical school and training, then starting and raising my family, and then running my medical practice. Finally, at the age of 57, I found the time to do what I had wanted to for so many years.”  

During those grueling days of ODS, as endured countless push-ups, sit-ups, long runs, and even cleaning toilets, he remembered the advice of many of his teachers, coaches, and mentors at Landon. He recalled Lowell Davis saying, “there are a lot of different paths to achieve a goal, don’t take the easy path,” and Rob Bordley advising him to do the right thing when no one is looking. “I truly believe that the core values I learned at Landon of honor, courage and commitment became part of me in those formative years and have gotten me through many challenges in my life.”  

March 3, 2021 was a proud day for Jimmy and his family as he took his oath, administered by his father, Commander Gilbert, MD, who served as a Navy doctor in Vietnam and at Walter Reed. His father was the first person he saluted, an important “first” in the armed forces. As a Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserves, Jimmy reports to Walter Reed for one weekend out of every month, and for two-weeks each year he is on active-duty backfilling for other orthopedic surgeons. During these training weekends, he learns how to function at times of war, setting up on-site operating rooms, providing care during mass casualty events, and training junior doctors. Jimmy was fulfilling one of these weekend commitments on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and he says it was a day he will never forget. Jimmy shared, “We all gathered outside the hospital at 8:46 am, the time the first plane hit the tower. The flag was raised to half-mast and I stood for that moment of silence among soldiers missing limbs. As our National Anthem was played, I felt privileged to be among such brave men and women. I want to serve and take care of soldiers.” 

Throughout our conversation, Jimmy kept circling back to his experience at Landon, and how it “prepared him for life.” Jimmy noted, “These guys, Lowell, Mac, Bordley and Sorkin, don’t just teach and coach you; they mentor you for your whole life. I consider them friends now and have called them many times over the years for advice.” Jimmy currently serves on the Alumni Board because he wants to give back to Landon in any way he can. He wants to ensure that other young men are lucky enough to have the same opportunity he had.  

Jimmy will receive a promotion to a senior commander position this spring and will be eligible to command a unit. His dream is to be the orthopedic surgeon for our Navy Seals. In this role, he would travel with the seals and provide their medical care should something happen. He could possibly serve with any of the five Landon alums who are Navy Seals today.