Alexander Gordon Lyle was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on 12 November 1889. He graduated from the Baltimore College of Dentistry, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1912 and was commissioned an assistant dental surgeon in the U.S. Navy on 21 April 1915. Upon appointment, he was stationed at Newport Naval Station, Rhode Island, until June 1917, when he transferred to the 5th Regiment of Marines as part of the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I.

On 23 April 1918, during fighting in the Verdun sector, the Marines came under heavy shelling. An explosion seriously wounded a Marine, Cpl Thomas Regan, and amidst the attack, LCdr Lyle put his own life at risk to rush to his aid. Administering first aid despite the continuing bombardment, he saved the young Marine’s life. For his heroism in this action, LCdr Lyle was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Navy and a Silver Star by the Army. Before the war’s end, he received an Oak Cluster in lieu of a second Silver Star for heroism from the Army, to which the 5th Regiment was attached.

After World War I, he served in a variety of posts, including a tour with the 4th Marines in China from July 1930 to August 1931. At the outset of World War II, he transferred to Quonset Point Naval Air Station, Rhode Island, until 1943. In March 1943, he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral, the first dental officer in any of the armed services ever to attain the rank of flag officer. RAdm Lyle served at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery as the Inspector of Dental Activities for the Navy until 1945. He then served as General Inspector (Dental) from 1 April 1947 until his retirement as a vice admiral on 1 August 1948.

During his illustrious career, VADM Lyle initiated mobile dental units to care for Navy members while on shore duty. He was personally responsible for developing a postgraduate training program for dental officers and technicians.

Vice Admiral Lyle died 15 July 1955 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

In addition to the Medal of Honor and the Silver Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, VAdm Lyle received the Commendation Ribbon, World War I Victory Medal with Overseas Clasp, Yangtze Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Italian War Cross and Diploma. He also held an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Maryland.


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

Marine Corps University