Dr. Frank S. Pettyjohn, M.D., COL USA (Ret.), passed away peacefully at the age of 88 at his home in Gulf Breeze, FL.
Dr. Pettyjohn was preceded in death by his wife of 43 years, Jean, and his daughter, Margot Kathleen. He's survived by his daughters Elise (Brian) Gore and Ellen (Geoff) Massey and his five beloved grandchildren, Tyler, Justin, Lauren, Mollie, and Jack.
A native of Milford, Delaware, Dr. Pettyjohn graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in civil engineering and entered the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lt. in the Corps of Engineers serving in Korea. In 1961, he married his one true love, Jean Allison Rovey, while attending Hahnemann School of Medicine (now Drexel University) in Philadelphia. In 1963, he received his medical degree and began his medical career as an intern at Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, WA. In 1965 he attended the U.S. Navy School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola, FL, and the U.S. Army Flight Surgeon School in Ft. Rucker, AL.
He served in Vietnam as a flight surgeon for the 17th Combat Aviation Group in 1966. Upon return, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Cardiology fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center. He also completed a Preventive Medicine/Aerospace Medicine residency at Brooks Air Force Base. In addition, Dr. Pettyjohn completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Public Health/Preventive Medicine at the University of Washington.
In 1973, Dr. Pettyjohn served as cardiologist and flight surgeon for Operation Homecoming entering Hanoi, North Vietnam, returning Vietnam POWs to the United States. He joined the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, AL, conducting aeromedical research. He then served as cardiologist for the U.S Army Aeromedical Center at Fort Rucker. In 1980 he and his family made their home in Gulf Breeze, FL as he continued his research at the Naval Aeromedical Research Laboratory in Pensacola, FL.
Dr. Pettyjohn served as Commanding Officer of Winn Army Hospital, Fort Stewart, GA, 1982-1985. It was there that he developed a special lifelong friendship with General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. He served as the U.S Army Aviation Medicine-Cardiology Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General, 1975-1987.
Upon retiring from military service in 1989, he joined the University of South Alabama College of Medicine as professor of medicine and emergency medicine. He founded the Department of Emergency Medicine and served as Chair until 2016. He also served as Chief of the Division of Cardiology from 2001-2008.
Dr. Pettyjohn was recalled to active duty in the U.S. Army in 1991 to serve as cardiologist and aviation medicine consultant at the U.S. Army Aeromedical Center, Fort Rucker, AL during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He served as cardiologist and flight surgeon on the aeromedical team that returned the U.S. POWs from Desert Storm to the United States.
In December 2008, at the age of 74, he again returned to active duty in the U.S. Army as a flight surgeon and cardiologist with the 345th Combat Support Hospital in Operation Enduring Freedom in Tikrit, Iraq.
During his military career, he was awarded the Combat Medical Badge; the Master Flight Surgeon Badge; the Legion of Merit; the Bronze Star; the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak cluster; U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force Commendation Medals; and the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
Following the tour of active duty in Iraq in 2009, he resumed his position at the University of South Alabama as Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine with a dual appointment in the Division of Cardiology. He continued his academic and research career in clinical medicine and conducted numerous cardiovascular studies. He published numerous papers and abstracts on aerospace medicine, internal medicine, and cardiology before he retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of South Alabama in 2017. Beginning in 2018, Dr. Pettyjohn served as a member of the Board of Directors of the University of South Alabama Foundation.
Dr. Pettyjohn was Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Aerospace Medicine, and Emergency Medicine. He was also an Aviation Medical Examiner and Cardiology Consultant to the FAA. Although he was affiliated with numerous organizations, he was especially proud of his appointment to the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine.
Throughout his distinguished medical and military career that spanned a lifetime, he was a selfless, humble and kind husband, son, brother, father, grandfather, mentor, teacher, and friend. He made a positive impact on countless lives. However, his greatest joy was spending time with his family, watching his grandkids play sports, fishing, boating, and watching Bama football.
He will be laid to rest in a private ceremony with full military honors at Barrancas National Cemetery onboard NAS Pensacola. A celebration to honor Frank's life and military service will be held at Felix’s on Pensacola Beach, January 14, 2023, from 1:00pm-4:00pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Central Church (913 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Unit 37, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561), Wounded Warrior Project (https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/), or the charity of your choice in his honor.
To his fellow Soldiers and comrades—COL PJs flight plan is closed. Wheels up!
To his fellow colleagues—Dr. PJ out!
To his friends who are family—Bye, Big Jack!