Corydon M. Wassell

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Corydon McAlmont Wassell
Born (1884-07-04)July 4, 1884
Little Rock, Arkansas
Died May 12, 1958(1958-05-12) (aged 73)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Navy Cross

Corydon McAlmont Wassell (July 4, 1884 – May 12, 1958) was a doctor best known for his work as a United States Navy physician. He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Wassell graduated with an M.D. from the University of Arkansas in 1909 and began his practice in Tillar, Arkansas. In 1913, he left his practice to serve as a medical missionary in Wuchang, China.

Wassell resumed regular duties with the United States Navy Reserve in 1936. In 1942, during World War II, he was a Lieutenant-Commander, U.S.N.R. and acted as liaison officer for about forty wounded American servicemen from the USS Marblehead in a Dutch hospital in Java.[1] He was awarded the Navy Cross for saving twelve of the most severely wounded from certain capture by the Japanese on Java, and accompanying them to Freemantle and safety.[1][2][3]

Wassell's Navy Cross citations reads:

"For especially meritorious conduct, devotion to duty, and utter disregard of personal safety, while in imminent contact with enemy forces and under attack from enemy aircraft, in caring for and evacuating the wounded of the United States Navy under his charge in Java, Netherlands East Indies, about March 1, 1942."

A radio speech by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt[1] inspired Cecil B. DeMille to make a movie about Wassell, starring Gary Cooper. Titled The Story of Dr. Wassell, it was based on a biographical novel written by James Hilton. Wassell served as an uncredited technical adviser to the movie. According to his great-grandson, all of the proceeds that Wassell received from the movie were donated to a hospital for the deaf and blind in Little Rock.

Wassell died May 12, 1958, in Little Rock and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His Little Rock home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  1. ^ a b c "Dr. Corydon Wassell". Obituaries. The Times (54150). London. 14 May 1958. p. 15. 
  2. ^ Wassell, Corydon M; Conquergood, C.R. (1944-11-21). "The War in the Far East". The Empire Club of Canada Speeches 1944–1945. The Empire Club of Canada. pp. 133–147. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  3. ^ "Dr. Wassell". USS Retrieved 2007-02-13. 

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