Hal B. Jennings, Jr., M.D.
1915 - 2008
Hal B. Jennings, Jr., a member of our Association for fifty years, died on February 12th, 2008. He was buried with full military honors at the Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, a fitting tribute to a career military surgeon who reached the rank of lieutenant general and became the 32nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.
Hal was born in Seneca, Michigan on August 26th, 1915, grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and was graduated from the University of Toledo in 1937. His medical education was at the University of Michigan. After graduating in 1941 he married Dixie (Flora Gene), who proved to be an ideal Army wife. Their lifelong partnership extended for nearly 67 years. Dixie remains in good health at age 94, living in their home at the Army Residence Community in San Antonio. Their son Ronald and daughter Cathy (Hampton) live in Plano, TX with their spouses. There are five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren,
Hal entered active duty on July 1st, 1942. He served in the Pacific Theater for 32 months. Returning to the U.S., he was assigned to the plastic surgery service at McCornack General Hospital in Pasadena, California. After participating in reconstructive surgery for soldiers injured in World War II for two years, he completed his general surgical training at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco. His formal plastic surgery residency followed at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, where he was the first of a long line of Regular Army plastic surgery residents who trained in the program directed by Dr. James Barrett Brown.
In July 1951, Lieutenant Colonel Jennings was assigned to Brooke Army Hospital, Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, caring for casualties of the Korean War. He was certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery in 1953. In August 1956 he became chief of plastic surgery at Walter Reed Army Hospital and consultant in plastic surgery to The Surgeon General. He often said his greatest enjoyment in surgery was in the repair of cleft lips and palates and other congenital deformities.
Beginning in 1961 Hal served in a number of command and staff positions including commanding Martin Army Hospital at Ft. Benning, GA. In May 1968 he went to Vietnam, was promoted to brigadier general, and commanded the 44th Medical Brigade. On October 1st, 1969 he was sworn in as Surgeon General. On that day he was promoted from brigadier to lieutenant general, instantly going from one to three stars.
After retiring from the Army in 1973, Hal spent two years as CEO of the American Urological Association before completely retiring to Beaufort, SC. In 1987 Hal and Dixie made a final move to San Antonio, Texas. Retirement years were filled with volunteer service and family activities.
The American Association of Plastic Surgeons can be proud to have counted such a distinguished surgeon and soldier among its members.
Robert W. Parsons, M.D.