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John Autrey Feagin, Jr.
John Feagin was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of John A. Feagin (Class of 1931), Cullum No. 9240 and Katherine Terrell Feagin. His father, an aviator, an early B17 pilot, and pioneering advocate of aerial bombardment, was in the force that during the 1930’s developed the bombing tactics and techniques which were used so effectively during World War II. John’s early days were spent on a variety of Army Air Corps bases and Army installations: Fort Sam Houston, Texas where his father was an Instructor at the West Point Preparatory School; Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; France Field in the Canal Zone; Maxwell Field, Alabama; and Langley Field, Virginia.
With the advent of World War II, John, his mother, and his younger sister, returned to San Antonio to reside while Colonel Feagin flew missions over “The Hump” in the China-Burma Theater. In 1947, his father’s early retirement after suffering a heart attack led his family back to live permanently in San Antonio.
John Feagin enrolled in the fall of 1947 at Texas Military Institute (TMI) where by his graduation in 1951, he had compiled an impressive record of achievement: Class Salutatorian; President of the Honor Society; Cadet Company Commander of the TMI Corps Honor Company; and Varsity Football Letterman. This record of success led to his receiving an appointment to West Point as a Distinguished Graduate of an Honor Military School.
He entered West Point on 3 JUL 1951 as the second youngest member of the Class of 1955, just 42 days after reaching his 17th birthday. During his four years as a cadet, he excelled academically, earned plebe numerals and two monograms in swimming, played inter-collegiate water polo on the Water Polo Club, taught Sunday School for four years and was elected as the Treasurer of the Class of 1955. He was appointed a Cadet Lieutenant for his First Class year.
Upon graduation, John Feagin was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Artillery. At the Field Artillery Basic Officer Course at Fort Sill, Lieutenant John Feagin excelled in Gunnery; and following Jump School and arrival at his initial troop assignment, the 82nd Airborne Division, was assigned as a Battalion Fire Direction Officer.
It was at Fort Bragg in dealing with Medical Corps personnel in behalf of his soldiers that he came to realize that there existed a great need for unit-experienced officers, in particular, West Point graduates, in the medical service. This displayed, perhaps for the first time, a characteristic that has marked his entire professional career. He identifies weak areas and then commits his energies toward correcting them. One senior Professor at Duke characterized this trait during an interview by stating, “John Feagin finds niches and needs which should be filled and then sets out to meet them.”
His strong sense of duty and responsibility for soldier well-being led him to apply for admission to Duke University School of Medicine and to several other noted medical colleges. His initial interviews so impressed the Dean of the Duke School of Medicine that he was granted admittance for the fall of 1957 as the first graduate accepted there from any service academy. Once accepted, in negotiations with the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of the Army, he reached agreement wherein he would be granted leave of absence without pay to attend medical school at his own expense; and then upon graduation, he would return to active duty.
At Duke, he quickly became identified among his talented classmates as a leader, a fact later reflected by his election as the President of his Medical School Class. As he was attending without outside financial backing, his assets were soon depleted. Impressed by his effort and his high potential, a student fellowship was arranged for him to work part time with the North Carolina Cerebral Palsy Hospital. Only through this arrangement was he able to continue his studies. He worked part-time throughout the remainder of his attendance at Duke.
Following graduation from Duke in 1961, now-“Dr.” Feagin returned to active duty as an intern at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1962 and 1963, he completed his internship at the Post Hospital at Fort Ord, California where he first began to practice his surgical art. Later in 1963, he was assigned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to begin his residency in Orthopaedic Services. He immediately became noted at Walter Reed as a brilliant and uniquely gifted young surgeon. Equally notable was his compassionate caring for patients. One patient seriously injured in a parachute jump in Vietnam during this period LTC, Ret. Anthony Black'stone, Class of 1960 wrote, “…he kept me informed, checked on my status frequently, counseled me on my role in the recuperation process, and generally insured that everything was done to insure my medical and emotional well being. … proof of the quality of the care I received was that I returned to jump status in 1971 in conjunction with another Special Forces assignment to Vietnam.”
During his residency at Walter Reed, Dr. Feagin quickly realized the great potential benefit of networking and exchanging information with other doctors performing similar work. This led to his becoming a Founding Member of the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons in 1966.
After four years of residency at Walter Reed, Dr. Feagin was assigned to duty in Vietnam in 1966 as Chief of Orthopaedic Services, 85th Evacuation Hospital, Qui Nhon, Vietnam. The 85th Evacuation Hospital treated a heavy load of wounded and injured patients, much under canvas in relatively unsophisticated conditions. Despite these problems, the hospital provided outstanding care using current medical techniques with stateside surgical standards as hospital standards. In Vietnam, in comparison to previous conflicts, patients more commonly suffered multiple wounds due to the rapid fire at close range, high velocity weaponry, and the extensive use of mines and booby traps. Further, wounds were dirtier due to soil, debris and bacterial contamination. Under his leadership, his surgical teams became close knit, highly qualified, and dedicated to the mission of soldier care. His talent for the professional development of young doctors first emerged during this assignment, and several colleagues from the 85th Evac have become nationally known orthopaedic surgeons and medical educators. During his tenure at Qui Nhon, his team adopted the nearby Qui Hoa Leprosarium in a Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) association where they provided care and performed life-sustaining surgeries to the great benefit of this small, isolated community.
In 1967, upon his return to CONUS, Dr. Feagin was assigned to Keller Army Hospital at West Point. In addition to orthopaedic care of the Corps of Cadets and the Staff and Faculty, Dr. Feagin assumed the duties of Team Physician for Army intercollegiate sports teams. In this role, he worked daily with such Coach's as Tom Cahill, Bill Parcells, and Bob Knight. Coach Knight identifies him as the best team doctor he has ever served with; Coach Parcells names him as one of the two best he has seen in his coaching career. His duties as Team Physician kindled a strong interest, evolving in short order into a passion, for the field of Sports Medicine in which he has emerged as a national and international leader.
He recognized the need for particular attention to injuries involving the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). These injuries, the bane of competitive athletes, occur most commonly in contact and pivoting sports. He has retained this strong, focused interest throughout his career. In 1974, he co-authored with Dr. Walton W. Curl a significant study on ACL injuries drawing on observations, data and interviews of the 64 cadets at the Military Academy who had suffered isolated tears of the ACL during the period 1967 to 1971. This study titled, “Isolated Tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament: 5-Year Followup Study” was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM) in 1976 and greatly revised the treatment procedures then used thus leading to greater effectiveness in recovery and rehabilitation. In 1996, the Editor of the Symposium in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, called this article, “The Classic.” Indicative of the vision of Dr. Feagin and Dr. Curl at the time of writing, the article (See Enclosure 4) was reprinted 20 years later in the 1996 Symposium Proceedings by permission of the authors, without a single word change.
In 1971, Dr. Feagin, newly elected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, was assigned to Letterman Army Medical Center with a one-year Joint Replacement Fellowship in route at the Centre for Hip Surgery in Wrightington, England. In England, he studied directly under Sir John Charnley, the pioneer and innovative inventor of the low friction artificial replacement hip and the foremost medical practitioner of the then-new art and science of artificial joints. Dr. Charnley’s clinical results in hip replacement are the benchmark by which all subsequent developments are measured. While studying under Dr. Charnley, Dr. Feagin concluded that joint replacement was more a bio-engineering problem than a surgical one and that the procedure should be approached as such. This realization allowed him to draw on his West Point education in subsequent work in joint replacement and brought a fresh, new perspective to the discipline of knee replacement surgery which followed.
Upon his return to the United States, he assumed duties at Letterman Army Hospital as the Assistant Chief of Orthopaedic Services and Director of the Resident Training Program. In 1972, he established the Army’s first Joint Replacement Program and served as its Director. As a teacher of young resident surgeons, Dr. Feagin preached that “Soldiering and Surgery are both studies in teamwork …and that surgical teamwork is achieved through training and the academic process.” He has been quoted as saying, “It is a great privilege to pass the torch,” and he approached his teaching duties with this philosophy bent. While at Letterman, he trained many outstanding resident surgeons a number of whom have risen to eminence in the orthopaedic world. Dr. Walton W. Curl (CO)lonel, Medical Corps Retired, USMA, Class of 1967, now Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Medical College of Georgia, and Dr. Scott F. Dye (Colonel, Medical Corps, Retired), now in private practice while also serving as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of California Medical College, were both residents under his supervision in his training program; both attribute their success to his leadership, mentoring and strong commitment to excellence within the framework of military medical service.
In 1972, he became a Founding Member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, an organization which he later served as President in 1985-1986. This organization has since been involved in research and education to improve patient care, and physician knowledge. It focuses its programs not only on elite athletes returning to their game after injury, but also on promoting changes in athletic gear that reduce injury, and on surgical and rehabilitative techniques that make it possible for a person to return to work soon after injury. In 2003, he was elected to the Society’s Hall of Fame.
In 1974, he helped to found The Low Friction Society which awards Charnley Fellowships for study at the Center for Hip Surgery in Wrightington, England. These fellowships are named in honor of his mentor friend, Sir John Charnley, whose work has been hailed as one of the greatest surgical advances of the twentieth century.
It is noteworthy that none of the professional organizations of which John Feagin is a member and to which he has contributed his exceptional organizing skills and energies, are “Marching and chowder” societies. On the contrary, they are organizations of dedicated professionals, totally committed to improving the knowledge and understanding of their medical art and science. They are single-minded in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding and the free exchange of information at home and abroad.
Dr. Feagin returned to West Point in 1978 as the Commander of Keller Army Hospital. He began then to personally train those surgeons assigned the role of Team Physician for Army Sports Teams. He has continued this initiative following retirement and each October for the past three years, has returned to West Point to insure that surgeons and athletic trainers working with Army athletes are exposed to the most current developments and guidance regarding the treatment of sports injuries. In 2003, he was named an “Honorary Letterman” by the Army Football Letterman’s Club to honor his contributions to Army Football teams.
Dr. Feagin retired from active duty in 1979 and entered private practice in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where the majority of his patients were those injured in ski or mountaineering accidents. Throughout the 1980’s, he served the U. S. Olympic Ski Team as a consultant and a team physician. He was the Team Physician for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.
In 1981, he was selected for a Swiss Association of Osteosynthesis (AO) Fellowship to study with Professor Bernhard G. Weber, Chief of Orthopaedics at the Canton Hospital, St. Gallen, Switzerland. Professor Weber was an imaginative innovator in the area of metal-on-metal joint prosthesis devices and greatly influenced Dr. Feagin’s own research within this orthopaedic discipline. Their six-month period of close collaboration also did much to strengthen ties between U. S. orthopaedic and orthopaedic sports medicine societies and their European counterparts, particularly the influential European Society for Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy which later, in 1996, awarded Dr. Feagin with Honorary Membership.
In 1983, in addition to active orthopaedic work, he authored and edited the book The Crucial Ligaments, a medical text published by Churchill Livingstone, which has been termed “The Bible of the Knee.” This book was characterized by reviewers in medical journals as “a must for orthopaedic surgeons” and “… (a) major contribution to the subjects of cruciate anatomy, biomechanics, and principles of repair and reconstruction.” This book was later revised and up-dated in a second printing in 1994.
In the 1980’s, Dr. Feagin, together with his close friend, Werner U. Mueller, Professor Emeritus for Orthopaedic Surgery, at the University of Basel, in Switzerland, developed the idea for the international exchange of the brightest young residents in Europe and the United States through Sports Medicine Traveling Fellowships. During visits of approximately four weeks, these doctors would be exposed to the latest surgical techniques and research conducted in various countries. These small teams of doctors would be escorted by a highly respected senior surgeon, to be termed “The Godfather”, who through his international relationships could facilitate their access to the latest techniques and procedures in medical colleges and universities and in elite medical centers. This concept was presented to several orthopaedic and orthopaedic sports medicine organizations who embraced the idea. The concept has been so successful that it has been expanded also to include exchanges with Asian and Australian orthopaedic medical centers. Dr. Mueller states that far more than 100 “of the best qualified young doctors had the opportunity to learn about Sports Medicine and Knee Surgery in the World(‘s) best centers. But not only Medicine was important, also cultural and historical insight and knowledge was given to these future leaders.” Dr. Feagin has served as “Godfather” for the Cleveland Orthopaedics Sports Medicine Society, and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and is an Honorary Member of another participating organization, The European Society for Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy.
In 1989, Dr. Feagin accepted an appointment as a Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. He has continued to perform in this position to the present time. The salutary impact of this institution through the infusion of duty-committed, highly motivated, well-trained, and competent professionals dedicated to career service, has been felt across the Department of Defense, the U. S. Coast Guard and the Public Health Service. As a Clinical Professor, Dr. Feagin lectures on his specialties, supervises and assists during ward rounds, and interacts with medical students to increase their appreciation of the unique discipline and demands (and, what Dr. Feagin calls, "The Great Joys,") in the practice of military medicine.
Also in 1989, Dr. Feagin left private practice and returned to Durham, North Carolina in a dual role: as an Associate Professor in the Duke University School of Medicine, and as the Chief of Orthopaedic Services in the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center. This enabled him to pursue his great love of resident teaching while utilizing his military experience in his medical craft. His impact on the Veterans Hospital was immediate and in six months enabled the hospital to turn around a trend toward mediocrity that threatened the accreditation of the Center as a teaching hospital for resident training. At both institutions, he trained residents in his own philosophic mold and to his own demanding standards. An associate at Duke stated, "His uniqueness is in his ability to organize and in his teaching methods which allow young surgeons to become aware of their own 'brightness'."
He renewed his friendship with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski which had begun during "Coach K's" cadet days. He was appointed Team Physician of the Duke Basketball team. During the course of their professional relationship in which Dr. Feagin treated team injuries, taught tailored courses for athletes in sports medicine topics, supervised injury rehabilitation regimens, and tended to the physical and emotional well-being of Duke athletes, Duke won two NCAA National Basketball Championships.
While serving as Duke Basketball Team Physician, Dr. Feagin, together with other Duke Medical School staff members, conceived the idea of a Human Performance Research Laboratory, focused on injury prevention with emphasis on ACL injuries. As envisioned in John's thinking, this laboratory would bring together orthopaedic surgeons, biomechanical engineers, kinesiologists, exercise psychologists, physical therapists, and athletic trainers in an effort to gain insight into injury, and to develop ways to prevent them. He energetically enlisted the support of Duke University and helped to market the idea to various potential donors. This Laboratory, named in honor of Coach Krzyzewski, is called simply the "K Lab" and was initially funded in 1998 by an unrestricted grant from Nike. The laboratory incorporates a comprehensive array of state-of-the-art tools to study human motion and measure body mechanics. The products of laboratory studies address the broad range of athletic injuries from foot, knee, and shoulder injuries to analysis of the frequency, cause, and severity of concussive episodes. Study findings have led to strong recommendations which can make competitive and individual sports much safer.
In the late 1980's, Dr. Feagin, along with other distinguished military surgeons, had been selected to author chapters for the official history of the Medical Department of the United States Army for the U. S. Army Center of Military History. His submission, "The Soldier and His Wound in Vietnam," (See Enclosure 4) was published in 1994 as Chapter 1 of the Volume entitled, Surgery in Vietnam.
Dr. Feagin was appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board as a Fellow of the famed Steadman Hawkins Sports Medicine Research Foundation at Vail, Colorado in 1992. He has continued in this role to the present and in 2003 was named "Emeritus for Life."
In 1996, Dr. Feagin volunteered to participate in an Operation Blessing Medical Mission to Panama where he provided surgical care and medical treatment which would otherwise have been unavailable or unaffordable. In 1998, he went on a similar mission to the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan. In 1997, he first contributed his medical talents to a Christian Ministry in the National Parks, a project he continues to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Dr. Feagin continued his multiple roles at Duke and the Durham Veterans Medical Center until 1999 at which time he retired and was appointed as an Associate Professor Emeritus by the Duke University School of Medicine. Duke has since committed to a five-year campaign to raise funds to endow the Dr. John A. Feagin, Jr. Professorship of Orthopaedic Surgery.
In retirement, he has continued to participate in World Medical Missions, the latest being service in a remote hospital in Tenwek, Kenya. His experiences in Kenya were published in the 2002 Duke Medical Center publication, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (See Enclosure 4). In the fall of 2002 he went to Havana, Cuba as a volunteer visiting orthopaedic surgeon under an endowed Arthrex, Inc. Fellowship.
In 2003, Dr. Feagin was selected for a second term as a Trustee of the Association of Graduates, USMA, having served previously as a Trustee from 1979 to 1985. For the past three Octobers, he has returned to West Point as, what he modestly terms, a "Volunteer Assistant-Assistant Team Physician." While at West Point, he sees patients, attends Sick Call at Keller Army Hospital, works in the Training Room, assists in surgeries, personally teaches the Sports Medicine Fellow on the Keller staff, and has delivered formal lectures during academic time. He serves, or has served, as a Consultant and Scientific Advisor to the Steadman Hawkins Research Foundation, Arthrex, Corporation, and the Aircast Corporation. He is a Member of the Medical Advisory Board for LeadingMD.com.
John Feagin continues to serve the orthopaedic community by frequently serving as a guest lecturer at various medical colleges, universities and teaching hospitals both in the U. S. and abroad. Currently, as follow-on to the ACL Study Group, International which he founded in 1978, he chairs a committee reinvestigating primary repair of ACL injuries under an Arthrex Foundation grant. He continues to serve as "Godfather" for medical exchanges between U.S. and European, Australian, and Asian orthopaedic doctors. In December 2003, he will be an invited speaker at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons (SOMOS).
John Feagin's entire professional life has been one of unselfish contribution to the U. S. Army Medical Corps, the broader medical profession, and to the Nation. His work has provided trained medical officers and civilian physicians of character who serve the common good, has extended the boundaries of knowledge of human anatomy, and has provided the strong leadership that cuts across organizational boundaries and parochial interests to establish international lines of communication and information exchange which benefit all humanity.
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Distinguished Graduate Award
COL JOHN A. FEAGIN, JR.
An airborne artillery lieutenant who, along with Paul Lenio '55 (dec), became the first active duty Army officers to attend medical school; a battlefield surgeon in Vietnam; a research physician and innovative bioengineer whose published work has led to quantum advances in orthopedic surgery; John Autrey Feagin, Jr. is the world's leading authority on cruciate ligaments and a pioneer in the practice of sports medicine.
Upon graduating from West Point in 1955, Lieutenant Feagin was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Convinced of the need for experienced line officers in the medical service, he gained approval from the Department of the Army to take a leave of absence, without pay, to attend medical school. He graduated from Duke in 1961, returned to the Army, and spent the next eighteen years as a military surgeon.
During these formative years of his career, Dr. Feagin served his internship at Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii and at the post hospital at Fort Ord, California. He completed his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was quickly recognized as a brilliant and uniquely gifted young surgeon. Equally important, John Feagin was known for his compassion, empathy, and commitment to his patients, a quality he has imparted to the countless young physicians he has since trained and mentored. While at Walter Reed, he became a founding member of the Society of Military Orthopedic Surgeons.
In 1966, Dr. Feagin was assigned to the 85th Evacuation Hospital, Qui Nhon, Vietnam, as Chief of Orthopedic Services. His talent for the professional development of young surgeons flourished during this assignment; several of his colleagues from the 85th Evacuation Hospital have become nationally known orthopedic surgeons and educators.
While at Qui Nhon, and typical of John Feagin's concern for humanity, he established a Medical Civil Action Program (MEDCAP) by adopting a nearby leprosarium where his team provided care and life-saving surgeries for this small, isolated community.
A year later, Dr. Feagin began a four-year tour at Keller Army Hospital at West Point. In addition to the orthopedic care of the Corps of Cadets, he became team physician for the Army football and basketball teams.
Elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 1971, Dr. Feagin studied at the Centre for Hip Surgery in Wrightington, England for a year before assuming his duties as Director, Army Joint Replacement Fellowship Program and Assistant Chief, Resident Training Program at Letterman Army Medical Center.
While at Wrightington working under the foremost medical practitioner of the then new science of artificial joints, John Feagin concluded that joint replacement was more a bioengineering problem than a surgical one and that the procedure should be approached as such. This realization brought a fresh, new perspective to the discipline of knee replacement surgery.
In 1972, John Feagin founded the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, an organization for which he later served as president. Two years later, he helped found the Low Friction Society, which awards fellowships for the study of hip surgery at Wrightington. In 1974, he co-authored a seminal study on the treatment of Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries suffered by cadets during Dr. Feagin's tour at West Point. Published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the article revolutionized procedures for recovery and rehabilitation of ACL injuries. Termed a "Classic" in orthopedic surgery, the article was reprinted 20 years later by the editor of a learned symposium.
Colonel Feagin was appointed Commander of Keller Army Hospital at West Point in 1978. He retired from the Army in 1979 and entered private practice. While at West Point, he personally trained those physicians serving as doctors for Army athletic teams. He continues this initiative by returning to the Military Academy as a volunteer each fall to instruct physicians and trainers in the latest developments and techniques in treating sports injuries.
Despite being involved in the full-time practice of surgery, Dr. Feagin continued his research into the problems associated with treatment of joint injuries, and found time to author and edit The Crucial Ligaments, a medical text now in its third printing. This book, termed "The Bible of the Knee," has been characterized by reviewers as "a must for orthopedic surgeons," and "a major contribution to the subjects of cruciate anatomy, biomechanics, and principles of repair and reconstruction." While at Jackson Hole, John Feagin also authored A Wilderness Medical Guide for those involved in mountaineering medicine.
In these years, honors and additional responsibilities came thick and fast for Dr. Feagin. Throughout the eighties, he served as team physician for the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and was the team physician for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. In 1981, he was selected for a Fellowship with the Swiss Association of Osteosynthesis, an assignment that strengthened the ties between American and European orthopedic societies. John Feagin built on this relationship to inaugurate the international exchange of bright young residents in Europe and the United States through Sports Medicine Traveling Fellowships. Dr. Feagin has served as the "Godfather" of the Cleveland Orthopedic Sports Medicine Society, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, and is an Honorary Member of the European Society for Knee Surgery.
In 1989, Dr. Feagin accepted an appointment as Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed University of Health Services, a position he holds to this day. In 1989 he was appointed Associate Professor in the Duke University School of Medicine and Chief of Orthopedic Services at the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center. His impact on the Veterans Hospital was immediate and salutary, and enabled the hospital to reverse a trend towards mediocrity that threatened the accreditation of the center as a teaching hospital. In 1994, Dr. Feagin's article, The Soldier and His Wound became Chapter 1 in the Office of the Surgeon General's text on surgery in Vietnam. John Feagin retired from Duke in 1999 and was appointed Associate Professor Emeritus by the Duke School of Medicine.
However, the word retirement is not in John Feagin's lexicon. He has served as Consultant and Scientific Advisor to the Steadman Hawkins Research Foundation; volunteered his services in Operation Blessing medical missions to Panama and to Kazakhstan; participates in World Medical Missions; was a volunteer in Kenya; is a consultant to several corporations, and is a member of the Medical Advisory Board for LeadingMD.com. Dr. Feagin is a frequent lecturer both in the United States and abroad. Last year he was elected to the Hall of Fame of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, and received an International Knee Prize for a Lifetime of Contribution to the Science and Practice of Knee Surgery.
John Feagin's entire professional life has been one of unselfish contribution to the U.S. Army Medical Corps, the broader medical profession, and to the Nation. A role model for young physicians, his extraordinary personal standards of competency, dedication to service, and compassion, transcend his international reputation as the world's leading authority on cruciate ligament surgery. His is a consummate professional who epitomized the ideals expressed in the West Point motto: "Duty, Honor, Country." As a teacher, scientist, mentor, author, medical missionary, and humanist, John Feagin is truly a lion in his chosen field.
Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 2004 Distinguished Graduate Award to John Autrey Feagin, Jr.
THOMAS B. DYER
Chairman and CEO
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[Army Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2014]
Class of 1955
John Feagin is a 1955 West Point graduate and earned two varsity letters as a member of the swimming and diving team. He was also a member of the West Point Water Polo Club.
He was commissioned into the Artillery Branch of the U.S. Army and graduated from Duke medical school in 1961. Feagin served as an orthopedic surgical resident at Walker Reed Army Medical Center for four years and then as Chief of Orthopaedic Services at the 85th Evac Hospital in Vietnam.
Feagin returned to West Point as team physician in 1967 and worked closely with assistant football coach Bill Parcells and head basketball coach Bob Knight. Feagin is the founding member of the American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine, the International Society of Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy, the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Society For Sports Medicine.
An extensive author and lecturer, Feagin wrote "The Crucial Ligaments," which helped revise the treatment of Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries. His book and papers are still used today in treating the common sports knee injury as well as educating young orthopedic surgeons.
Feagin served as the team physician for the U.S. Ski Team during the 1992 Winter Olympics after moving to Durham, N.C., to become an Associate Professor at the Duke University School of Medicine and Chief of Orthopaedic Services in the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center.
He worked as team physician under West Point graduate Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Basketball team and helped found the Coach Krzyzewski -Nike Human Performance Laboratory.
Feagin was presented the Mueller International Knee Prize for a Lifetime of Contributions to the Sciences and Practices of Knee Surgery, was inducted into the AOSSM Hall of Fame, is an honorary member of the Army Football Letterman's Club, is a U.S. Military Academy Graduate and established the John A. Feagin West Point Sports Medicine Fellowship.
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Dear Fellow Army Team Physicians, Army Head Trainers, Army Sports Medicine Fellows and special Army Sports Friends –
Recently I was notified by Mr. “Boo” Corrigan that I had been selected for induction in the Army Sports Hall of Fame October 10th-11th this year. Initially I thought it must be either a Classmate pulling a joke or that our Army Water Polo Team of 1955, which was the AAU National Champion and which I co-captained, was getting the recognition we all thought we deserved. It was neither – the recognition was under the Administrative section and was for my years as Team Physician from 1967-1972 and other items relating to Army Sports and West Point. Needless to say I am deeply honored but in accepting the Award I am ever mindful that I did not do it alone.
I was introduced to the “job” by Tony Ballard when I was a senior resident at Walter Reed and stopped by Orthopaedics at West Point to see if what they did might interest me after residency. I loved what I saw and I loved and respected Dr. Ballard and Norm Zlotsky who taught me about the “isolated ACL” and meniscal repair. Vietnam was heating up and Dr. Ballard pointed out that if I volunteered for Vietnam there would probably be a vacancy at West Point. I “volunteered”. My first boss at the 85th Evac was – Tony Ballard. In the short time we were allowed to be together (two regular Army Majors was too much!) he discussed with me the idea of primary repair of the ACL, given the natural history of the torn ACL he had observed while he was Team Physician. In many ways that was where it all began..
So I returned from RVN to West Point and owe Head Trainer Ed Pillings a huge amount for “teaching” me sports medicine in the week we had before the first game! The years that followed were the best and you know of what I speak, or you would not be a recipient of this letter. For me those years formed my “orthopaedic character”.
In the years that followed, and the lists of those who followed that is attached, you can see why I am humbled over this recognition and deeply appreciative of all each of you contributed to The Army Team Doctors legacy. Without your personal and academic commitment to the Cadets, the Program, and the Academy I would not be receiving this recognition. You have kept our reputation sacred and unsullied through the years and I have enjoyed watching you grow. The Trainers and the Cadet patients have grown also for which we can all share pride in the Program as it now stands.
So thank you for the privilege I have enjoyed. “If I have been able to see further it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants” and you are the giants of Army Sports Medicine.
John A. Feagin, M.D., Col(r), USA