Joel Thompson Boone--born in St. Clair, Pa., on 29 August 1889--graduated from the Mercersburg, Pa. Academy in 1909, and attended Hehnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, Pa., graduating in 1913. Appointed a lieutenant (junior grade) in the Medical Corps' reserve component in April 1914, Boone underwent instruction at the Portsmouth, N.H. Naval Hospital from July to September 1914 and, then, at the Naval Medical School in Washington, D.C., before transferring to the regular Navy in May 1915.
Next assigned to the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Va., Boone served there until August 1915 and then was sent to Haiti for duty with the Marine Corps Expeditionary Forces. While in that troubled Caribbean country, Boone saw combat duty with the marines and, for his performance of duty under fire, received a personal commendation from Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy.
Recalled from Haiti in June 1916, Boone reported on board Wyoming Battleship No. 32, the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet, that September and was serving in her when the United States entered World War I that spring. Detached from that battleship in the summer of 1917, Boone joined the 6th Marines at Quantico, Va., as they prepared for service "beyond the seas."
While serving with that regiment in the vicinity of Vierzey, France, on 19 July 1918, Boone proved that, although the men of the Medical Corps carried neither bayonets nor grenades, they endured the same privations and dangers as the marines whom they served. After concentrated machine gun fire had left heavy casualties among the leathernecks, Boone left the comparative shelter of a ravine and braved both enemy fire and a heavy mist of poison gas to apply dressings and render first aid to the wounded. Exhausting his supplies in the process, Boone then braved more explosive and gas shells to obtain additional dressings and supplies and returned with a motorcycle sidecar load. After exhausting his stock of first-aid supplies again, Boone performed a second resupply run under fire as well. For his actions on this day, Surgeon Boone received the Medal of Honor.
First serving as Battalion and Regimental Surgeon with the 6th Marines, Boone later served as Assistant Division Surgeon with the 2d Army Division, American Expeditionary Forces, participating in the 6th Marines' operations in battle south of Verdun, in the Aisne-Marne campaign, at St. Mihiel, Champagne, and in the Meuse-Argonne. After the armistice on 11 November 1918, Boone accompanied the Army of Occupation as it took control of the Rhine bridgeheads.
Following his return from Europe to the United States in February 1919, Boone served in Washington, first in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and then as the Director of the Bureau of Naval Affairs, American Red Cross, from March 1919 unti1 May 1922, after which time he reported for duty as medical officer on board the presidential yacht Mayflower . For the next seven years, Boone served as presidential physician, attending to Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Then, between March 1929 and April 1933, he served as Physician to the White House during the presidency of Herbert Hoover. During his assignment, Boone served in the temporary rank of captain with the enactment of a congressional statute that pertained to the legal establishment of that office.
Completing a general postgraduate course at the Naval Medical School, Washington, D.C., in May 1933, Capt. Boone joined the hospital ship Relief AH-1 and served as Chief of Medicine in that ship until June 1935. Upon the completion of shore duty at the Naval Hospital, San Diego, in August 1936, he served as force medical officer for the Fleet Marine Force based at San Diego, Calif., into the spring of 1938. Subsequently, he again went to sea, this time as senior medical officer in the carrier Saratoga CV-3.
Later assuming duties as executive officer, and still later, commanding officer, of the Naval Dispensary in Long Beach, Calif., Boone became force medical officer on the staff of the Commander, Base Force, in the flagship Argonne AG-31, serving in that billet until August 1940. From December of that year until April 1943, Boone served as senior medical officer at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, before filling the billet of medical officer-in-charge of the Naval Hospital, Seattle, Wash.
Promoted to Commodore in April 1945, Boone joined the staff of Admiral William F. Halsey, Commander, 3d Fleet. After the end of hostilities with Japan, Halsey selected Boone as one of the three officers assigned the task of liberating Allied prisoners of war in the former enemy homeland before the actual military occupation. He also represented the Naval Medical Corps at the surrender ceremonies that took place on board the battleship Missouri BB-63 in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945.
After a brief spell of temporary duty in Washington, D.C., with the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Commodore Boone received the assignment of District Medical Officer, 11th Naval District (San Diego) and,in April 1946, became Inspector of Medical Department Activities, Pacific Coast, with additional duty as Medical Officer, Western Sea Frontier. From May 1946 to June 1947, he served as medical advisor to the Federal Coal Mines Administrator and as director of the medical survey of the coal industry. In early 1948, he became the executive secretary of the Secretary of Defense's Committee on Medical and Hospital Services of the Armed Forces. Simultaneously, Boone acted as secretary of the Committee on Federal Medical Services of the First Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, generally known as the "Hoover Commission." Boone then served as Chief of the Joint Plans and Action Division, Office of Medical Services, Department of Defense. Ordered detached in March 1950 to serve as General Inspector of Medical Department Activities, Boone later received personal orders from Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, the Chief of Naval Operations, to undertake a special mission to Korea and Japan during the Korean War.
Unfortunately, physical disability incapacitated him for the task and forced him to retire on 1 December 1950. Less than four months later, though, Boone was appointed Chief Medical Director of the Veteran's Administration, assuming that office on 1 March 1951. Vice Admiral Boone died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md., on 2 April 1974, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.