Air Force Gen. Malcolm Grow was born Nov. 19, 1887. Our medical facility on Joint Base Andrews, Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic, is named for him.
Gen. Grow was the first surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force (July 1, 1949 - Nov. 30, 1949). He received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1909 and entered the U.S. Army Medical Service in 1917.
While chief flight surgeon of the Army Air Corps (1934-39) he, in conjunction with Maj. Gen. Harry G. Armstrong, founded the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
In July 1943, Gen. Grow received the Legion of Merit for developing body armor to protect combat crews. A study of wounds incurred by members of combat crews showed that nearly 70 percent were caused by missiles of relatively low velocity. He led the way in developing a light body armor and steel helmet that saved many lives and materially improved combat crew morale.
In May 1944, Gen. Grow was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for developing a device to protect gunners from windblast; electrically heated clothing, gloves, boots, hand warmers and casualty bags for wounded; wind and fire resistant face and neck protectors and a special combat ration for use on long bombing missions. Frostbite cases decreased and flight efficiency increased. After a study of psychiatric failures in combat, he helped institute rest homes, a new special pass system, and special training for medical officers in tactical units. As a result, every casualty of this type was returned to duty.
Such efforts, especially in research, earned him the John Jeffries Award in 1947, the Gorgas Award in 1950 and many others, including many from other nations. Just prior to his retirement, he received an oak leaf cluster to his Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts in promoting the study of aeromedicine, airborne medical equipment, and organizational planning.
Gen. Grow was appointed acting air surgeon for the Army Air Forces in 1945 and Air Surgeon in 1946.
Staff at Malcolm Grow Medical Center gathered for cake Nov. 19 in honor of Gen. Grow's 125th birthday.