Joel Thompson Boone – Vice Admiral, United States Navy

Joel Thompson Boone was born at St. Clair, Pennsylvania, August 29, 1889, he earned the Medal of Honor in World War I while serving as a Lieutenant in the Medical Corps, with the Marines at the vicinity of Vierzy, France, July 19, 1918.

He graduated from Mercersburg (Pennsylvania) Academy, 1909; received an M.D. degree at Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, 1913, with graduate study at the U.S. Navy Medical School, Washington, D.C., 1915. He married Helen Elizabeth Koch, June 20, 1914. He served as a Naval Medical Officer, 1914-50 and served on combat duty in Haiti, 1915-16, and France and Germany during World War I.

He was the physician to Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, 1922-33; staff commander, Base Force, U.S. Fleet, January-August 1940; Senior Medical Officer, Naval Air Station, San Diego, 1940-43; Commander, Naval Hospital, Seattle, Washington, 1943-45; Fleet Medical Officer, 3rd U.S. Fleet, 1945; District Medical Officer, 11th Naval District, 1946; Inspector of Medical Activities, Pacific Coast, also Inspector of Medical Activities, 1946; Executive Secretary, Commission in Medical and Hospital Services, Armed Forces, Chief, Joint Plans and Action, Medical Services, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1948-50; Inspector General, Medical Department, 1950.

He retired from active duty as a Vice Admiral in 1950 and then served as Medical Director, Veterans Administration, 1951-55.

His decorations included the Medal of Honor; Distinguished Service Cross; Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters; the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters; Bronze Star Medal with Combat V; Secretary of the Navy Commendation Medal; Defense Medal with Star; Haitian Campaign Medal; World War I Victory Medal with six battle clasps; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II; Croix de Guerre with two Palms, Officer of the Legion of Honor, Order of Fourragere (France); War Cross (Italy).

He resided in Washington, D.C., where he died on April 2, 1974.

He was buried in Section 11 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Helen Elizabeth Koch Boone (July 17, 1889-November 2, 1977), is buried with him.

Interesting notes:  He was with President Warren G. Harding in San Francisco on August 2, 1923 when the President died of a massive stroke.  He also attended to Calvin Coolidge, Jr., the son of the President, who died at Walter Reed Army Hospital on 7 July 1924.  He was one of the physicians who operated on Secretary of Agriculture Henry C. Wallace for appendicitis and the removal of his gall bladder, and who subsequently died on October 25, 1924 at the United States Naval Hospital at Washington, D.C.  In 1930, he treated Herbert Hoover, Jr., son of the President for Tuberculosis (he survived).


Rank and organization: Lieutenant (Medical Corps), U.S. Navy. Place and date: Vicinity Vierzy, France, 19 July 1918. Entered service at: St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Born: 2 August 1889, St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

Medal of Honor Citation:

For extraordinary heroism, conspicuous gallantry, and intrepidity while serving with the 6th Regiment, U.S. Marines, in actual conflict with the enemy. With absolute disregard for personal safety, ever conscious and mindful of the suffering fallen, Surgeon Boone, leaving the shelter of a ravine, went forward onto the open field where there was no protection and despite the extreme enemy fire of all calibers, through a heavy mist of gas, applied dressings and first aid to wounded marines. This occurred southeast of Vierzy, near the cemetery, and on the road south from that town. When the dressings and supplies had been exhausted, he went through a heavy barrage of large-caliber shells, both high explosive and gas, to replenish these supplies, returning quickly with a sidecar load, and administered them in saving the lives of the wounded. A second trip, under the same conditions and for the same purpose, was made by Surgeon Boone later that day.


Lieutenant (Medical Corps), U.S. Navy
6th Regiment (Marines)(Attached), 2d Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: June 9 – 10 & 25, 1918


The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Joel Thompson Boone, Lieutenant (Medical Corps), U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action in the Bois-de-Belleau, France, June 9-10 and 25, 1918. On two successive days the regimental aid station in which he was working was struck by heavy shells and in each case demolished. Ten men were killed and a number of wounded were badly hurt by falling timbers and stone.

Under these harassing conditions this officer continued without cessation his treatment of the wounded, superintending their evacuation, and setting an inspiring example of heroism to the officers and men serving under him. On June 25, 1918, Surgeon Boone followed the attack by one battalion against enemy machine-gun positions in the Bois-de-Belleau, establishing advanced dressing stations under continuous shell fire.
General Orders No. No. 137, W.D., 1918

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