The passing of Rear Admiral (lower half) Horace MacVaugh III, Medical Corps, U.S. Naval Reserve (Ret.)

Feb. 16, 2022 | By Sam Cox (Rear Adm. USN, Ret.), Director, Naval History and Heritage Command
It is with deep regret I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral (lower half) Horace MacVaugh III, Medical Corps, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired) on 24 January 2022 at age 91. Rear Admiral MacVaugh entered the U.S. Navy in 1956 at the rank of lieutenant and served as a medical doctor for over 30 years. 

Horace MacVaugh graduated from Yale University in 1952 with a bachelor of science in zoology. He then earned his MD from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1955. In 1956, he entered the U.S. Navy as a flight surgeon at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. He subsequently served in Hawaii at Hickam Field and Naval Air Station Barbers Point as a flight surgeon for transport squadrons. He continued to serve in the Naval Reserve at Naval Air Station Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. He was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) in 1986. (I regret that neither Flag Matters nor the Navy Archives have additional information, so I have no data on dates of rank, duty stations, or awards.) 

In his civilian career, Horace MacVaugh was a cardiothoracic surgeon, and board-certified in general surgery. He served as a professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania until 1988, and then as professor of surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University until 1990. He was chairman of the Department of Surgery at Lankenau Hospital, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, from 1978 to 1986, and chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, from 1986 to 1990. He performed the first coronary artery bypass surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. He was also accepted into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut training program, but opted to continue his career in cardiothoracic surgery. He was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha honorary medical society. 

He was a long-time member of the Union League of Philadelphia, the Church of the Holy Trinity, St. Andrews Society of Philadelphia, Gulph Mills Golf Club, Merion Cricket Club, Racquet Club of Philadelphia, Right Angle Club, Pennsylvania Falconry and Hawk Trust, and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He climbed the 18,500-foot Kala Pitar peak in Himalayas, was a licensed private and commercial pilot, an avid woodworker, and an avid sailor who captained sailboats across the Virgin Islands and Grenadines, as well as being a regular at the Bohemian Grove. He also enjoyed orchestra, ice dancing, and Steelhead trout fishing. There will be a private funeral service. 
 
Although there is little information, Horace MacVaugh wouldn’t have made flag in the Medical Corps Reserve if he didn’t show superb leadership, dedication, and wasn't extremely good at what he did. He certainly led an incredible life. The Navy was lucky he remained in the Naval Reserve because it would appear he did it for the patriotism and the love of it; doesn’t sound like he needed the paycheck. He no doubt served with distinction, and the Navy and nation are grateful for his service. 
 
Rest in Peace, Admiral MacVaugh.