Raymond Whitcomb Bliss – Major General, United States Army

Major General Raymond W. Bliss Biographical Data

THE WASHINGTON POST – Tuesday, December 14, 1965

Ex-Surgeon General Raymond Bliss Dies

Major General Raymond W. Bliss, former Surgeon General of the Army, died Sunday (Dec 12, 1965) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, after a brief illness. He was 77.

General Bliss, who served as Surgeon General from 1947 to 1951, retired from active service in 1951. He had been in the Army since 1913.

Born in Chelsea, Mass. (May 17, 1888), he graduated from Tufts Medical College in 1910. In 1943 Tufts awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Gen. Bliss also studied at the University of Breslau in Germany and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Louisville in 1948.

    During his career as a military surgeon he served throughout the United States and also in Hawaii and the Philippines.

    During World War II, from 1940 to 1941, he was in London as a military observer with the United States Embassy.

    After returning from London he became Chief of the Operations Service in the Surgeon General’s Office; becoming Deputy Surgeon General in 1946.

    Gen. Bliss was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the French Legion of Honor and the Cross of Knight Officer of the Italian Crown.

    He was an honorary fellow of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. He was a member of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Physicians.

    Gen. Bliss is survived by his wife, Martha S., of Chocurua, N.H.; a son, Raymond W. Jr., and a daughter, Martha J. Whitehead, both of Tucson.

Tuesday, December 14, 1965

Major General Raymond Bliss Dead; Surgeon General in Korean War
Helped Standardize Systems After Unifying of Services
Served from ’47 to ’51

Tucson, Arizona., December 13, 1965  — Major General Raymond W. Bliss, who served as Surgeon General of the United States (Army) during the Korean War, died yesterday at the age of 77.

    General Bliss entered the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Hospital on Thursday with a chest cold. He died from resulting complications.

    After retiring form active service in 1951, he lived in Chocurua, New Hampshire, and spent winters in Tucson with his children, Martha Whitehead and Raymond W. Bliss, Jr. He and his his wife, Martha, arrived December 1.

    The body will be cremated and the ashes sent to Arlington National Cemetery.

Increased Corps Rapidly

    At the outbreak of the Korean conflict in June, 1950, General Bliss, who became Surgeon General of the Army in 1947, had to build up the Army Medical Corps, which had dwindled to about 2,700 doctors.

    About 900 reserve physicians were called to active duty. Because of the dearth in enlistments among medical men, a law to draft doctors and dentists was enacted in September, 1950.

    After a three-week inspection of the Far Eastern Command in the fall of 1950, General Bliss reported that the troops in Korea had received the finest medical care ever achieved in any war.

    The death rate among wounded American troops in Korea, he said, was less than two 2% as compared with 4.5% in World War II and 8% in World War I. This rate was obtained with 40% fewer doctors than in World War II.

    “We have cut out all wasteful use of doctors,” General Bliss said.

    He had taken up his duties as Surgeon General two months before the National Security Act of 1947, unifying the armed services, became law. Later with the Surgeons General of the Navy and Air Force, he toured home and overseas bases to discover what overlapping of services existed.

   “I saw Navy installations and Navy saw the Army’s, and we saw them together,” he said on his return. “That has never been done before.”

    As a result, two of six hospitals in Panama were closed and other adjustments were made. As members of a committee on medical and hospital services named by Defense Secretary James V. Forrestal, the three Surgeons General recommended a unified supply system, standardized hospital construction and equipment, and recommended a reduction in overlapping hospital services.

    In World War II, when the Nazis began the air blitz over England, Colonel Bliss was went to London as an observer. After the United States entered the war, he became Surgeon General of the First Army and the Eastern Defense Command. For his service with the First Army he received the Legion of Merit.

    In June, 1943, he was named Chief of Operation Service in the Surgeon General’s Office, and in August, 1944, he became Assistant Surgeon General of the Army. In this post, he flew 250,000 air miles, inspecting Army hospitals overseas, and received the Distinguished Service Medal.

    He was born in Chelsea, Mass., received his medical degree from Tufts College in 1910, and took graduate work at the University of Breslau in Germany. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps in 1911 and in the Medical Corps of the Regular Army in 1913.

THE WASHINGTON POST – April 27, 1966

Major General Raymond W. Bliss, surgeon general of the Army from 1947 to 1951, will be honored in graveside services at Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m. Thursday. He died in Tucson, Arizona, last December and the body was cremated.


Promoted to Captain (permanent) on June 7, 1916; to Major (permanent) on May 15, 1917; to Lieutenant Colonel (temporary) on February 23, 1918. He reverted to his permanent rank of Major on February 14, 1920, and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (permanent) on May 20, 1933; to Colonel (permanent) on May 20, 1939; to Brigadier General (temporary) on September 14, 1943; to Brigadier General (permanent) on February 1, 1946; to Major General (Surgeon General) on June 1, 1947; to Major General (permanent) on January 24, 1948; with date of rank from September 13, 1943.  Up to date as of 27 December 1949.


    He graduated from the Army Medical College, Washington D.C. in June, 1913. In September of 1914, he was sent to Fort Apache, Arizona; in May 1915, to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Upon his return to the United States in August 1917, he was stationed at the Base Hospital, Camp Wheeler, Georgia. In October 1918, he moved to General Hospital 35 at West Baden, Indiana; in May 1919, to General Hospital 20 at Whipple Barracks, Arizona. In February 1920, he was ordered to Fitzsimmons General Hospital, Denver Colorado. From August to December 1920, he was at the Harvard Medical School for a special course in surgery. He then remained in Boston for study in the surgical clinics and further instruction at Harvard College. In October 1921, he became Executive Officer of the Hospital Subdivision of the Veterans’ Bureau in Washington D.C.

    In January 1923, he was transferred to Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington D.C. In November 1924, Major Bliss went to Camp Stephen D. Little, Arizona, as Camp Surgeon and Medical Supply Officer. In April 1929, he went to Sternberg General Hospital, Manila, P.I., and became Assistant Chief of Surgical Service there in July 1930. Upon his return to the  United States in May 1931, he was assigned to duty at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he became Assistant Chief of Surgical Service in July 1931, and Chief of Surgical Service in July 1936. In November 1936, he went to William Beaumont General Hospital, El Paso, Texas as Chief of Surgical Service.

    In September 1940, he went to London, England as Military Observer; and upon his return to the United States in January 1941, he went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma as Commanding Officer of the post hospital. In February 1942, he became Surgeon, Eastern Defense Command and First Army, Governors Island, N.Y. In June 1943, he became Chief of Operations Service, Surgeon General’s Office, Washington D.C. In August 1944, he was made Assistant Surgeon General at the same station. On February 1, 1946, he became Assistant to the Surgeon General, Washington D.C. for a four-year period.

    During the war, he made extensive trips to Pacific Ocean Areas; and later he was named an Observer at the Atom Bomb Test at Bikini Atoll.

    He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Tufts College in 1944. He has been awarded the Legion of Merit for service as Surgeon, First Army; the Distinguished Service Medal for service as Assistant Surgeon General during the war (WWII).  He also received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Louisville, K.Y. in February 1948.


Army officer; Born at Chelsea, Massachussetts, May 17, 1888; the son of  Eli Cooley Weston and Hannah Page (Ham) B.; M.D., Tufts Medical College, 1910; postgraduate Army Medical School, Washington, D.C. 1912-13; C.S., Harvard Medical School, 1921, D.Sc. 1943; D.Laws, University of Louisville, 1948.

Married Martha Stuchul, Sept. 15, 1914; children – Raymond Whitcomb, Martha Jane.

Commd 1st Lt. Med. Res. Corps., U.S. Army, 1911, advanced through grades to brig. general, 1943; appointed Deputy Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, 1946, Surgeon General, 1947. Fellow A.C.S., member Theta Delta Chi. Mason. Home: 1 Main Dr., Army Med. Center, Washington. Died December 1965.


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