Orlando Henderson Petty was born 20 February 1874 in Harrison, Ohio, and graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1904. He joined the teaching staff of the college in 1906. On 6 December 1916, he was appointed Assistant Surgeon, Medical Corps, U. S. Naval Reserve. He served with 5th Regiment of Marines, American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I.

Lieutenant Petty’s unit joined the Battle of Belleau Wood on 2 June 1918. By 11 June, he was stationed near the front lines in the town of Lucy le Bocage, and diligently attended and helped evacuate casualties. When an exploding German gas shells knocked Lt Petty to the ground, tearing his gas mask, he discarded the mask and continued to treat the wounded. After his dressing station was hit and destroyed, Lt Petty personally helped carry the wounded Capt Lloyd Williams through shellfire to safety. For his bravery that day, Lt Petty received the Medal of Honor.

After the war, Dr. Petty returned to Philadelphia. There he taught at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine, served as the Director of Public Health, and headed the Bureau of Communicable Diseases. He authored numerous medical books and articles, and was a leading authority on diabetes. He also joined several professional organizations, including serving a term as president of both the Medical Club of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia County Medical Society. He died on 2 June 1932 and was buried in St. Timothy’s Churchyard, Roxborough, Pennsylvania.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, his decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star Citation, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the Italian Croce di Guerra.


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