The first meeting of a military orthopaedic organization, subsequently known as the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons, occurred during the 1958 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, in New York City. The inaugural meeting of military orthopaedic surgeons, which was held on Governor's Island in New York Harbor, was attended by COL John Blair, MC, US Army; COL Sterling Ritchie, MC, US Army; COL Paul Brown, MC, US Army; COL Robert Hall, MC, US Army; COL Ernst Dehne, MC, US Army; CAPT Red Stephenson, MC, US Navy; and Col Earl "Pat" Brannon, MC, US Air Force.

Initially the annual meetings were held on a rotating basis on Army posts, Navy bases, or Air Force bases, usually at the local Officer's Clubs at the host service's installation. In 1970, the 12th Annual Meeting was sponsored by the Army and was held at the US Military Academy, West Point, NY. Accommodations for attendees were at the Thayer Hotel, West Point, NY.

In 1973, the 15th Annual Meeting was sponsored by William Beaumont Army Medical Center, and was held at the Hilton Airport Hotel, El Paso, TX. This was the first meeting held away from the host services military installation. At that meeting, a Board of Directors was initiated and the decision was made to incorporate the Society.  With incorporation, by-laws were passed and a mission for the Society was established. The mission of the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons’ is to provide a forum for the interchange of medical knowledge as it relates to the practice of orthopaedic surgery in the military. It was established that SOMOS would hold one general scientific meeting each year. The annual scientific meeting would provide a forum for presentation of research papers in a collegial setting, wherein SOMOS members may seek critical and constructive analysis of their observations, conclusions, and recommendations. The annual meeting would also provide numerous opportunities for SOMOS members to meet in an informal setting to establish or renew acquaintances, share recent experiences, and solve common problems unique to the practice of military orthopaedic surgery. Furthermore, it was established that each memberof SOMOS must be, or must have been, an orthopaedic surgeon or resident orthopaedic surgeon of the Armed Forces. This includes active duty, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of all services.

Also at the 15th Annual Meeting in El Paso, the SOMOS pin was designed and distributed for the first time. The SOMOS pin was based on a design by Dick Sutton, chief resident at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at the time. This design was ultimately adopted as the emblem/logo of the Society. From that point on, meetings have been held at Hotels and/or Resorts selected by the sponsoring facility, initially in the local area of the sponsoring Medical Center. 

However, as the Society has grown in size (presently 1000 members), and as the meetings have increased in size and content, larger accommodations and more resort locations have been selected to hold the annual meetings. These meetings have usually been at a distance from the sponsoring Medical Center. Recent locations have included Williamsburg, El Paso, Colorado Springs, Bethesda, Hilton Head, Vail, San Diego, Lake Placid, San Antonio, and Orlando. In 2003, the 45th Annual Meeting was sponsored by Tripler Army Medical Center, and was held outside of the continental United States for the first time, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki, Hawaii. The inaugural edition of the SOMOS Sentinel was published in 2003, and distributed to the 1000 members of the Society. Today, this quarterly publication provides up-to-date information for the membership from the SOMOS president, the individual service orthopaedic consultants, the Board of Counselors representative, and the BOS representative.

The Society now gives four awards at the Annual Meeting. The Kirk Award, established in 1972, is named for the former Army Surgeon General. This award, endowed by his widow, is awarded for the best resident paper presented at the Annual Meeting. In 1987, Major General (ret) George I. Baker, and Colonel (ret) Howard Abbott established the Founder's Award, to recognize the best original paper with military relevance presented at the Annual Meeting. The third award, the House Award, is presented for the best original poster presentation with military relevance at the Annual Meeting. This latter award is named in honor of Louise B. House, the Society's long time Secretary. Established in 2007, the COL Brian Allgood Memorial Leadership Award will be presented annually for leadership excellence in Military Orthopaedic Surgery in honor of COL Allgood, United States Military Academy Class of 1982.

Candidates for the COL Brian Allgood Award are military orthopaedic surgeons who have distinguished themselves as exceptional leaders in military orthopaedic surgery. This award will be presented to the individual who best exemplifies COL Allgood's attributes of selfless leadership, commitment to excellence in military orthopaedics and loyalty to the ideals of Duty, Honor and Country.

The Society has been formally recognized by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and now is a member in the AAOS Board of Specialty Societies (BOS). In addition, SOMOS has a representative on the Board of Councilors of the AAOS. SOMOS continues to represent a broad spectrum of active duty, retired, and reserve military orthopaedic surgeons. In addition, SOMOS has collaborated with the AAOS and OTA to sponsor the annual Extremity War Injury Symposium that initiated in 2006 and has resulted in research collaboration and congressionally directed research funding over 100 million dollars.

Prepared by: COL Edward D. Arrington, MD, FACS. 2006 President