Joel Thompson Boone was born in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, on 29 August 1889. He graduated from the Mercersburg Academy in 1909 and then entered Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduating in June 1913. In April 1914, he was appointed lieutenant (junior grade) in the Medical Corps, U. S. Naval Reserve. He transferred to the regular Navy in May 1915.

Lieutenant Boone trained and served at various posts including the Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; the Naval Medical School, Washington, D.C.; and the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia. He also saw combat with Marine forces in Haiti in 1915.

Lieutenant Boone joined USS Wyoming in September 1916, and was serving on board when the U. S. entered World War I in April 1917. In August, he transferred to the 6th Regiment of Marines, Quantico, Virginia, and deployed with that unit in September, arriving in France in early October. There he served as Battalion and Regimental Surgeon, 6th Regiment, and then as Assistant Division Surgeon of the U.S. Army’s 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces.

On 19 July 1918 in Vierzy, while administering aid along the front lines at Soissons during the Aisne-Marne offensive, Lt Boone put himself in extreme danger by leaving the relative safety of a ravine to help wounded Marines lying in the open field. He also made two heroic runs on motorcycle for more emergency medical supplies during the day, dodging enemy fire at each step. He immediately returned to the battle each time to continue administering aid. For his extraordinary service, he received the Medal of Honor.

After the Armistice on 11 November 1918, Lt Boone marched into Germany with the Army of Occupation for duty on the Rhine bridgeheads. In early 1919, he worked in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., and as the Director of Naval Affairs, American Red Cross. He attended to Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. He completed a general postgraduate course at the Naval Medical School, Washington, D.C., in May 1933. He was promoted to rear admiral, dated from 20 May 1942.

At the end of World War II, RAdm Boone was one of three officers to liberate Allied Prisoners of War in Japan prior to the military occupation of that country. He was the Naval Medical Corps representative at the surrender ceremonies of the Japanese aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. In 1948, he served as the Executive Secretary of the Secretary of Defense’s Committee on Medical and Hospital Services of the Armed Forces. Simultaneously, he was the Secretary of the Medical Task Force of the First Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, known as the Hoover Commission. While serving as General Inspector, Medical Department Activities in 1950, RAdm Boone was ordered on a special mission to Japan and Korea during the Korean War by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Forrest P. Sherman.

Rear Admiral Boone was placed on the permanent physical disability retired list on 1 December 1950 and advanced to the rank of vice admiral. He was appointed Chief Medical Director of the Veterans Administration on 1 March 1951, and served for the statutory term of four years.

Vice Admiral Boone died on 2 April 1974 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, VADM Boone received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” the Purple Heart Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Haitian Campaign Medal, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, the World War I Victory Medal with six battle stars, the Army of Occupation in Germany Medal, a Letter of Commendation, the Navy Commendation Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Campaign Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Badge. He also received the French Officer of the Legion of Honor, the Croix de Guerre with two palms, the Order of the Fourragere (three awards), and the Gold Medal of Honor and the Italian War Cross with Diploma.

Navy Medal of Honor recipients serving with Marine units at the time of award

Marine Corps University