Skip to main content

Military Health System

Dedicated Korean War Navy Medic Worked “Feverishly” to Save Lives

Image of Profile photo of a sailor. For his service during the Korean War, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Francis “Doc” Hammond, a hospitalman, was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor in 1953. (Photo: Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command)

Recommended Content:

Our History

As a 21-year-old hospitalman in the Korean War, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Francis "Doc" Hammond saved countless lives during intense battles with enemy forces before losing his own in March 1953.

For his acts of valor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Hammond a posthumous Medal of Honor.

“His great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds enhances and sustains the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country,” reads the citation.

Life and Career

Born in 1931 in Alexandria, Virginia, Hammond expected to follow in his father’s footsteps of becoming a pharmacist after graduating from George Washington High School.

But as the Korean War raged into its second year, he instead decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy as a seaman recruit on March 20, 1951.

For close to two years, Hammond trained at the Naval Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes, Illinois; the Naval Hospital at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, in Vallejo, California; and the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near Oceanside, California, to become a hospitalman.

He learned to care for the wounded, set up aid stations, perform field medicine, and coordinate the evacuation of injured service members from battlefield.

As stated in an account from the Naval History and Heritage Command, hospitalmen were trained to do “everything and anything in their power to keep their patients alive” until they could be transported to the nearest mobile Army surgical hospital units, where their odds of survival were much higher.

In February 1953, Hammond was deployed to the Korean Peninsula, and attached to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Division, Fleet Marine Force, where he quickly earned the respect and admiration of his comrades.

Hammond got to work as soon as he arrived in Korea.

“On his very first patrol, one of his comrades at the head of the group stepped on a mine,” said U.S. Marine Pfc. Robert S. Durham, a member of Hammond’s platoon, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Durham said Hammond saved his first life that night as he “charged through the whole group, and when he found that he could not get through the wire fast enough, he ran right through the minefield to treat the wounded man.”

The night of March 25 saw the beginning of the Battle for Outpost Vegas. U.S. Marine Sgt. William Janzen, his platoon sergeant, described the young Hammond as “the bravest man I saw out there that night … his actions were an inspiration to all of us there who saw and talked with him.”

He worked “feverishly,” to treat his patients, said Janzen. “He was all over the place patching up the wounded, no matter how slight their wounds.”

He added that Hammond "was the calmest and coolest person” he saw that night. “No matter whether a man was wounded or not, he always had a few words of comfort and encouragement for everyone,” he said.

After Hammond spent nearly four hours on the battlefield administering aid to wounded comrades, his unit was ordered to withdraw, but he refused to leave. As U.S. forces fell back, he stayed behind to direct the evacuation casualties, according to historical U.S. Navy data.

“[He] did not want to leave his men,” states the Virginia War Memorial’s website.

On March 27, as he assisted the relieving unit, a round of enemy mortar fire struck and killed him. He had been scheduled to rotate out of that combat area just two weeks later.

Posthumous Honors

On June 10, 1953, Hammond was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. In December 1953, President Eisenhower presented the Medal of Honor to Hammond’s widow, Phyllis, and their 3-month-old son, Francis Junior.

In addition to receiving the nation’s highest medal for valor in combat, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the Navy Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Presidential Unit Citation, the United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. For its part, the Republic of Korea awarded Hammond its Presidential Unit Citation and War Service Medal.

In 1956, his hometown of Alexandria named a new high school in his honor. Although the school became a middle school in 1993, it continues to bear his name: Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

On May 11, 1968, the U.S. Navy launched the frigate USS Francis Hammond. This World War II-era Sims-class destroyer saw action in Vietnam, Kuwait, and other military exercises until its decommissioning in 1992.

In 1988, the U.S. Marine Corps named a clinic for Hammond on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. In 2000, the 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division opened a new clinic in a different location on the base, known as Camp San Mateo, and requested it be rededicated for Hammond, said Faye Jonason, history and museum division director at Camp Pendleton.

As such, the 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division's Hospital Corpsman Francis C. Hammond Clinic continues to honor his legacy. For more information on Hammond’s story, read the Naval History and Heritage Command’s account.

You also may be interested in...

The “Human Bomb”: How Air Force Surgeons Made Medical History in Vietnam

Article Around MHS
11/29/2022
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. James Humphreys

On November 5, 1965, Air Force surgeons were confronted with a bomb, literally. But instead of coming face-to-face with a device, they were confronted with a patient who had a live grenade embedded in his back, essentially making the patient a walking human bomb.

Recommended Content:

Our History

History of Navy Medicine's Research and Development Global Enterprise

Article Around MHS
11/2/2022
Historic image of the Naval Medical Research Institute

Before there was the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) there was the Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI).

Recommended Content:

Our History | Research and Innovation

Born in Harm's Way: The Advent of Navy Medicine in the Revolutionary War

Article Around MHS
10/21/2022
The Bonhomme Richard vs. HMS Serapis infographic

The U.S. Navy recognized Oct. 13 as its official birthdate. It was on this day in 1775 that the Continental Congress authorized the construction of the first Navy ships as well as a special committee to oversee the administration of this service.

Recommended Content:

Our History

From a Small Twig Comes 75 Years of Medical Readiness

Article Around MHS
8/15/2022
Military personnel celebrating MSC milestone

For 75 years, the Navy Medical Service Corps has long been regarded as the most diverse corps, comprised of health care administrators, clinicians, and scientists.

Recommended Content:

Our History

Air Force Women's History: First Commissioned Female Physician

Article Around MHS
6/23/2022
Capt Dorothy Armstrong Elias sworn in

On March 14, 1951, Capt. (Dr.) Dorothy Armstrong Elias became the first woman physician sworn into the Air Force.

Recommended Content:

Our History

Facility Dogs Play a Vital Role in Recovery for Patients Across the MHS

Article
5/27/2022
Luke is a German Shephard facility dog.

Each dog has his or her own rank, service, and uniform and is inducted in an enlistment or commissioning ceremony. Today, the Facility Dog Program at WRNMMC includes Sully, a yellow Lab who was former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog.

Recommended Content:

Our History | Health Readiness & Combat Support

'America’s First Brain Surgeon' Served During Civil War and World War I

Article
5/17/2022
Dr. William Williams Keen Jr was a medical surgeon during the Civil War who afterwards advocated and researched medical advances so the horrors of Civil War-era medicine would not occur again. He also served in the Army during World War I.

The Army’s Dr. William Williams Keen helped to shape military medicine for more than 50 years – from the Civil War to World War I.

Recommended Content:

Our History

Military Medical Museum Celebrates 160th birthday with mobile app

Photo
5/17/2022
Military Medical Museum Celebrates 160th birthday with mobile app

National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, Maryland, visitor uses the NMHM mobile app while looking at objects from the Innovations in Military Medicine Gallery.

Recommended Content:

Our History

Vietnam War Commemoration Presents DHA Director with Commemorative Flag

Article
4/28/2022
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, Defense Health Agency director, receives a commemorative Vietnam War flag from Army Maj. Gen. (Retired) Peter Aylward, The United States of America Vietnam Commemoration director. (Photo: Sonia Clark, MHS Communications)

Lt. Gen. Place receives Vietnam War commemorative flag.

Recommended Content:

Our History

A History of the Combat Helmet and the Quest to Prevent Injuries

Article
4/25/2022
Lt. Gen. George S. Patton and Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. are pictured here in 1943 wearing the standard M1 helmet, sometimes called the "steel pot." (Photo: 1st Infantry Division Courtesy Photo)

The combat helmet has evolved over time to improve protection against projectiles and shock waves to reduce the risk of fatal blows and traumatic brain injuries.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Our History | Injury Prevention

Ceremony Marks New Name for RIA Health Clinic to Woodson Health Clinic, Honoring World War II Combat Medic

Article
4/21/2022
Stephen Woodson looks at the plaque painting of his father, Staff Sgt. Waverly Woodson Jr., a World War II First U.S. Army combat medic hero, following the unveiling of it during a renaming dedication ceremony at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, April 14. The health clinic was renamed Woodson Health Clinic. (Photo: Jon Micheal Connor, ASC Public Affairs)

The Rock Island Arsenal Health Clinic received a new name in honor of a heroic First U.S. Army Soldier in a moving ceremony here in Heritage Hall April 14. The new name is the Woodson Health Clinic in honor of Staff Sgt. Waverly B. Woodson Jr.

Recommended Content:

Our History

Women's History Month highlight: All-women medic team supports mission welcoming Afghan allies

Article Around MHS
4/5/2022
Military personnel taking a walk

In late August 2021, the Department of Defense issued a call for volunteers to support Operation Allies Welcome, the federal government’s effort to safely resettle Afghan refugees.

Recommended Content:

Our History

Remembering Dr. Alexander Augusta, the U.S. Army’s First Black Doctor

Article
2/25/2022
A photo of Maj. (Dr.) Alexander Augusta among the Seventh Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops where he served as regimental surgeon during the Civil War.

Dr. Alexander Augusta was the first African American to be an Army doctor.

Recommended Content:

Our History | Paving the Way for African Americans in Military Medicine: A Look Across Time

Dentally Unready: Gen. George Washington's Lifetime of Dental Misery

Article
2/3/2022
Visitors to the George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and museum in Mount Vernon, Virginia, can see George Washington’s only remaining full denture among the collection. They include his own pulled and saved teeth, other human teeth, teeth from cows and horses that were filed to fit, and teeth carved from elephant ivory.

No, George Washington did not have wooden teeth. But he did struggle with dental problems for most of his life.

Recommended Content:

Our History | TRICARE Dental Care | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

The British 'Limeys' Were Right: A Short History of Scurvy

Article
1/10/2022
Scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, sickened sailors who had no access to fresh food supplies, and killed more than 2 million sailors between the 16th and 18th centuries alone.

How citrus fruits quelled the scourge of scurvy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Nutritional Fitness | Our History
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 23, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery