20 Jan 2007
Rear Admiral Kenneth P. Moritsugu held the position of deputy surgeon general in 1998, serving as the principal assistant and advisor to the surgeon general.
Then from February 2002, he served as acting surgeon general for approximately seven months, and again in August 2006 after Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th surgeon general, retired.
In this capacity, Moritsugu has responsibility to oversee nearly 6,000 Commissioned Corps medical personnel of the U.S. Public Health Service, and to function as the nation’s top doctor.
The officers of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps are classified as non-combatants. The member wears the same uniform as the Navy and the ranks are equivalent to the Navy. The rank of surgeon general is equivalent to vice admiral (three stars).
Moritsugu, a third-generation Japanese American, was born and raised in Honolulu. He attended Chaminade College for two years and transferred to University of Hawaii, where he received a bachelor’s degree with honors in classical language in 1967.
He received a medical doctor’s degree from George Washington University School of Medicine in 1971 and a master’s of public health in health administration and planning from UC Berkeley in 1975.
He began his Public Health Service career in 1968, completing three tours of duty while in medical school. He served as a medical officer on board the Coast Guard cutter Taney and as deputy director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons, where he was responsible for health care of inmates and detainees.
In 1988, as a career officer in the Commissioned Corps, he served as assistant surgeon general beginning with the 13th surgeon general, C. Everett Koop.
Moritsugu received many honors and awards, including the Surgeon General’s Medal for Exemplary Service; Surgeon General’s Medallion; Distinguished Ser-vice Medal; Outstanding Service and Commendation Medals of the U.S. Public Health Service; Distinguished Service and Meritorious Service Medals of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons; Army Achievement Medal; and Coast Guard Arctic Service from Ohio University.
Moritsugu holds honorary doctor of science degrees from the University of New England, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and Midwestern University of North Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.
He has been the federal representative to numerous national health care agencies, providing consultation and advice in health profession development to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico and Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
He also served as the official U.S. observer to the Council of Europe’s Select Committee of Experts on Impact of the AIDS Epidemic on the Criminal Justice System in Strasbough, France.
Moritsugu has been an advocate for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Since 1994, he has been active in the Donor Family Recognition Programs in Washington, D.C. He serves on numerous boards, including the United Network for Organ Sharing, Washington Regional Transplant Consortium and National Advisory Board for Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Recipients International.
In 1992, Moritsugu lost his wife, Donna Lee Jones Moritsugu, in an auto accident and donated organs to six people and corneas to two. In 1996, his 22- year-old daughter, Vikki Lianne, was struck by a car and died. She donated organs to five recipients and corneas to two.
Moritsugu is presently married to Lisa Kory and has two daughters, Emily Renee and Erika Lizabeth, an attorney in Washington, D.C.
His father, Richard Yutaka Moritsugu, served in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II. He graduated in December 1942 from MIS Language School at Camp Savage in Minnesota and served in the Central Pacific Command as a linguist in the battle of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.
Admiral Moritsugu had an uncle, Masato “Cudy” Nakae, a private in Company A, 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action near Pisa, Italy in August 1944. For his outstanding heroism, Private Nakae was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross Medal, later upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration bestowed on a soldier.
Another relative was Staff Sergeant Robert T. Kuroda of Company H, 442nd RCT, who distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action in October 1944 near Bruyeres, France. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, later upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: copyright 2006 by Hokubei Mainichi, Inc.; all rights reserved