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Brigadier-General Walter Drew McCaw, Chief Surgeon of the American Expeditionary Forces 1918-19, who had previously been cited for gallantry in action during the Cuban campaign of the Spanish American War of 1898-99.U.S.A., Army Distinguished Service Medal, numbered on the edge ?99?; Spanish Campaign Medal, Army, with silver Citation Star, numbered on the edge ?No.10?; Philippine Campaign Medal, Army, numbered on the edge ?No.52?; Army of Cuban Occupation Medal, numbered on the edge ?No.3758?; Mexican Border Service Medal, numbered on the edge ?4779?; Victory Medal, with 2 clasps, Defensive Sector, Meuse-Argonne; Military Order of Foreign Wars, gold and enamels, numbered on the reverse of suspension link ?155?, original 1.5 inch ribbon, minor chipping to reverse centre, otherwise near perfect; France, Legion of Honour, Commander?s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels; Medal of Honour, Ministry of Health, 1st Class, silver-gilt, name embossed on reverse ?M. W. D. McCaw 1919?; Italy, Order of St Maurice and St Lazarus, Officer?s breast badge, gold and enamels, in its Cravanzola case of issue. Unless otherwise described nearly extremely fine and a very rare group of exceptionally low-numbered awards. See The Call of Duty - Military Awards & Decorations of the U.S.A. by Strandberg & Bender, p76, for illustration of this actual Distinguished Service Medal. Accompanying research from U.S. archives confirms all of the numbered campaign medals. Walter Drew McCaw was born on 10 February 1863, in Richmond, Virginia, into a family with a long history of physicians that had originated in Newton-Stewart, Wigtonshire, Scotland, and came to Virginia in 1771. His father, James Brown McCaw was a well known physician and medical officer who served as the Commandant and Chief Medical Director of the Confederate army's Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, the largest military hospital in the world at that time, treating 76,000 patients with a survival rate of over 90%, a very impressive record considering that it was achieved before the development of antibiotics and the principles of antisepsis. In line with family tradition, young Walter McCaw's interest in the study of medicine started early and being taught by his father. In 1882, Walter became an M.D. after attending the Medical College of Virginia, where his father was dean of the faculty. He earned a second M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, in New York City in 1884, after which he received a commission as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Department, 20 August 1884, and served for the next 14 years at various army posts in the western states, receiving a promotion to Captain in 1889. At the start of the Spanish American War in 1898, he accompanied the army's Fifth Corps to Cuba, and participated in the battle of the city of Santiago de Cuba, where he earned a silver star citation for gallantry in action, allowing him to wear the small star emblem on the ribbon of his campaign medal. Like many others in Cuba, he contracted a virulent form of malaria, and was evacuated and quarantined at Camp Wikoff, on Montauk Point, Long Island, in New York State. Upon the outbreak of the Philippine Insurrection, he was sent there in 1899, serving with the 42nd Infantry Regiment, U.S. Volunteers, at Pasig and El Deposito, being promoted to Major in April 1901. After returning to Washington D.C. in 1902, he was appointed as one of three assistants to Surgeon General Robert M. O'Reilly. In addition to his regular duties of helping write the surgeon general's annual reports, he served as head of the medical examining board that selected new officers for service in the Medical Corps. He also became head of the Museum and American Medical Library Division of the Surgeon General's office, a position that he kept for 12 years. This library later became known as the National Library of Medicine, located in Bethesda, Maryland. From 1902 to 1905, he assumed the additional responsibility of Professor of Military Hygiene at the Army Medical School, and from 1904 to 1913, he was Professor of Military and Tropical Medicine. In January 1909, McCaw was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, and in May 1913 to Colonel. In 1914 he was sent back to the Philippines to serve as chief surgeon of the Division of the Philippines, and later placed in command of the division hospital in Manila. By 1916-1917, he had returned to the states and was appointed division surgeon for the Southern Department at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, during the mobilization along the border with Mexico. It was during this campaign that he reported to General John J. ?Black Jack? Pershing, who had crossed the Rio Grande river into northern Mexico in an unsuccessful attempt to capture Pancho Villa. There is little doubt that McCaw had become known to General Pershing during the time they had both served in Washington D.C. in prior years, a relationship that would now become more important for both men.Upon America joining the war in 1917, McCaw was sent to France, and served as assistant to the Chief Surgeon, American Expeditionary Force, Brigadier-General M. W. Ireland. In October 1918, General Ireland was made Surgeon General, succeeding General William C. Gorgas, of Panama Canal fame. Despite intense competition from General Gorgas's chief assistant in Washington D.C., McCaw became the new Chief Surgeon of the American Expeditionary Force, being promoted to Brigadier-General in March 1919, and continued to serve in that role until July 1919, when he returned from France to Washington D.C. to serve as assistant to the Surgeon General. Exactly what influence General Pershing had exerted in making McCaw Chief Surgeon of the A.E.F. is unknown, but McCaw's record of solid, dependable performance under difficult circumstances during the Mexican Border campaign was probably a strong factor. From 1919 to 1923, General McCaw was commandant of the Army Medical School. He retired on 10 February 1927, was never married, and died on 7 July 1939, in Woodstock, New York. The value of his services was widely respected and recognized, receiving many honors from the U.S. Army and the governments of France, Great Britain (Companion of the Bath), and Italy, along with an honorary membership in the Royal Society of Medicine. An early army medical student of McCaw described him as "a finished scholarly gentleman", while an old friend who wrote McCaw's obituary credited him with "a mind so quick and penetrating, that nothing was too difficult for it". He added however, that "a mild pessimism made him sometimes shoot below the mark". Many of McCaw's professional papers for the period from 1904 to 1913, are held in two collections at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. He declined the contribution of his autobiography to the library's collection, and responded to their request by sending in a brief, humorous poem. A more conventional obituary is in the Journal of the American Medical Association 1939: 437. During his 43 years of Army service, General McCaw came to know many, if not all of the most senior Army officers serving in WWI, and probably many of the future outstanding officers like Marshall, MacArthur, Patton and Stilwell that went on to become senior commanders in WWII. In late 1950, in downtown Richmond, Virginia, the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, located on the campus of the Medical College of Virginia, was named in recognition of General McCaw, his father, and other members of his family. Written material about the various family members, their medical service, letters, portraits, and other items are contained in the library. Sold with extensive copies of research papers confirming all the awards.
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