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...

Gen. George Washington Ordered Smallpox Inoculations for All Troops

Article
8/16/2021
Old photo of George Washington in battle

George Washington’s tactics included directing the first mass military inoculations

Recommended Content:

Our History | Immunizations

How Spec Ops and DHA Teamed Up to Build an Inexpensive DIY Ventilator

Article
7/28/2021
Nurse checks up on a patient in a mechanical ventilator

Military inventiveness is seen in the history of ventilators

Recommended Content:

Our History

MHS and MOS Town Hall: Virtual Tour

Article
7/27/2021
Infographic for the Town Hall

MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health presents a virtual Field Trip to The National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Recommended Content:

Our History | National Museum of Health and Medicine

MHS and MOS Town Hall Virtual Tour

Video
7/27/2021
MHS and MOS Town Hall Virtual Tour

MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health presents a virtual field trip to The National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Recommended Content:

Our History | National Museum of Health and Medicine

30 Years after Desert Storm, Military Medicine Evolving ‘Phenomenally’

Article
6/9/2021
Military health personnel surrounding an operating table

Thirty years after the Persian Gulf War, technical advances in military medicine are saving lives and improving post-trauma quality of life.

Recommended Content:

Our History

Paving the way for women in military medicine: Dr. Mary Edwards Walker

Article
3/26/2021
Old picture of Dr. Mary Edwards wearing her Medal of Honor

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker’s persistence and disregard for societal norms was central to the role that women can play in the DOD and MHS today.

Recommended Content:

Our History | Military Health Medal of Honor Recipients | Women's Health

National Army museum honors America’s Soldiers

Article
11/13/2020
Wall in the museum with pictures and interactive displays

The museum is a joint U.S. Army-Army Historical Foundation construction effort.

Recommended Content:

Our History

NMHM documents military medicine advancements during the Civil War

Article
10/5/2020
Old-time photo of soldiers with crutches, canes, and missing limbs.

Initial challenges to military medicine stemmed from limited medical knowledge and lack of organization in the medical corps.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Our History | National Museum of Health and Medicine

Moments in Military Medicine: Blood Donations on the Battlefield

Video
2/4/2020
Moments in Military Medicine: Blood Donations on the Battlefield

Since January was National Blood Donor Month, learn more about the history of blood donations on the battlefield and the incredible work of the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Armed Services Blood Program | Our History | National Museum of Health and Medicine

Moments in Military Medicine: The Genesis of MHS GENESIS

Video
10/3/2019
Moments in Military Medicine: The Genesis of MHS GENESIS

Electronic records are so common, it's hard to remember a time they weren't around. Learn about the #genesisofGENESIS and how electronic health records evolved in the Military Health System over the decades.

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Our History | MHS GENESIS Toolkit | National Museum of Health and Medicine | Genesis of MHS GENESIS | MHS GENESIS

Military doctors and the president

Video
9/4/2018
Military doctors and the president

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln's first responder was a military doctor? Military medicine has come a long way since Lincoln's assassination. Watch this video to learn more.

Recommended Content:

Our History | National Museum of Health and Medicine

Paul Revere

Video
7/3/2018
Paul Revere

Before his midnight ride, Paul Revere was an amateur dentist. See how his work during the Revolutionary War inspired the use of dental identification on the battlefield and beyond.

Recommended Content:

Our History | National Museum of Health and Medicine | TRICARE Dental Care

Overview of Coast Guard Health Services

Presentation
2/9/2017

Overview of Coast Guard Health Services

Recommended Content:

Our History | Health Care Administration & Operations

Defense Health Agency Overview

Presentation
2/9/2017

Defense Health Agency Overview

Recommended Content:

Our History | Research and Innovation

Overview of Navy Medicine

Presentation
2/9/2017

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Our History
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 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