Thursday, October 6, 2011
VADM Donald L. Custis, Surgeon General (1973-1976)
Donald Lauren Custis (1917- ), after joining the Naval Reserve, came on active duty in 1944. As a junior medical officer aboard USS Clinton, Dr. Custis treated many kamikaze victims of the bloody Okinawa campaign. He left active service in 1946 and went into private practice. Dr. Custis returned to active duty in 1956 and had assignments to several naval hospitals. He went to Vietnam in 1969 as senior medical officer for U.S. Naval Support Activity Da Nang. He then assumed command of Naval Hospital, Bethesda. In 1973 he became Surgeon General. During his term he led the Medical Department through downsizing and military budget cutting following the war, expanded regionalization of medical and dental facilities, and was a strong proponent of graduate medical education and research.