Leonard D. Heaton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Leonard Dudley Heaton
Leonard Dudley Heaton.jpg
Born (1902-11-19)November 19, 1902
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Died September 10, 1983(1983-09-10) (aged 80)
Washington, D.C.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1927–1969
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Commands held Surgeon General of the US Army
Battles/wars World War II
Cold War
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Legion of Merit (3)

Leonard Dudley Heaton (November 19, 1902 – September 10, 1983) was Surgeon General of the United States Army from 1959 to 1969.[1]


Youth and education[edit]

Heaton was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. As an undergraduate he attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio graduating in 1922. He then attended the University of Louisville where he would earn his medical degree four years later.

Service years[edit]

Heaton was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Medical Corps Reserve immediately following his graduation from medical school. In 1940 he was assigned as Chief of Surgical Service in Hawaii. He was among the attending surgeons in the aftermath of the attack on attack on Pearl Harbor, where he operated and treated the wounded for over 24 hours straight. With the entrance of the United States into World War II, Heaton was assigned to the European Theater of Operations. Soon after D-Day, he was appointed as the Commander of the 802d Hospital Center in Blandford, England where he had over 12,000 people working under him.

After the war, Heaton was promoted to Brigadier General in 1948. He held many posts including being the commander of the Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC. He became the tenth officer to command the hospital.

General Heaton was made Surgeon General of the Army in June 1959, and was promoted to Lieutenant General (three stars) in September, 1959. He was the first Army medical officer to attain this rank, and served a longer term as Surgeon General than any other officer since 1931. Aside from administrative duties, Heaton continued to surgically operate. Among his many patients included President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and Generals of the Army Douglas MacArthur, and George C. Marshall.

As surgeon general, he oversaw the expansion and deployment of Army medical services to Southeast Asia and advocated for the increased use of helicopters for medical evacuation operations in the Army. He retired from the Army in 1969 and died at his beloved Walter Reed in 1983.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
Bronze star
American Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
ArmyDSMribbon.png Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order, 1st Class
Order of the Crown of Thailand - 4th Class (Thailand) ribbon.png Order of the Crown of Thailand, Companion
GER Bundeswehr Honour Cross Silver ribbon.svg German Cross of Honour in Silver


  1. ^ "Leonard D. Heaton". US Army Medical Department Office of Medical History.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Silas B. Hays
Surgeon General of the US Army
1959 – 1969
Succeeded by
Hal B. Jennings