Willard Charles Calkins was born in New Haven, Connecticut on September 30,1902, son of the late Louis G. and Grace (Chapman) Calkins. He attended Central High School, Syracuse, New York, prior to enlisting on April 9, 1919 in the US Navy. He was appointed Pharmacist on October 1, 1929, and on October 1, 1935 was promoted to Chief Pharmacist. Commissioned Lieutenant (jg) in the Hospital Corps, US Navy, on June 15, 1942, he subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Commander to date from July 1, 1951, having transferred in August 1947 to the Medical Service Corps. On September 29, 1954 he was sworn in as the first Chief of the Medical Service Corps, and promoted to the rank of captain.
Following his enlistment in the US Navy in 1919, he was assigned briefly to the Hospital Corps Training School, Great Lake, Illinois. In June of the same year he was transferred to the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, where he remained until February 1921, when he reported for duty at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia. Ordered to duty afloat, he served consecutively from August 1921 to January 1922 in the battleships Arizona and Arkansas.
Returning to the United States, he attended a course at the Pharmacist’s Mate School, Portsmouth, Virginia, and in August 1922 reported aboard USS Relief. He continued sea duty in USS Bobolink until April 1923, which he was assigned to the Naval Hospital, Washington, DC. He joined the First Brigade, US Marine Corps in Haiti, in February 1925, and in May 1927 was ordered to the Naval Medical School, Washington, DC. In October 1929 he became Personnel and Accounting Officer of the School, and while there had instruction in accountancy at Benjamin Franklin University, Washington. He transferred in May 1930 to the Naval Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island, where he was Property and Accounting Officer until June 1931.
Duty in the USS Relief preceded a three year assignment, July 1933-July 1936, as Property Officer at the Naval Hospital, Mare Island, California. Between August 1936 and August 1939 he served as Procurement Officer at the Naval Medical Supply Depot, Brooklyn, New York, with additional duty under instruction in accountancy at Pace Institute, New York, New York. Following as assignment as Property and Accounting Officer at the Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor, TH, he reported in September 1941 as Administrative Assistant to the Commanding Officer of the Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He remained there following the United States’ entry into World War II, December 8, 1941, until October 1943, and the next month became Assistant to the Area Medical Officer on the staff of Commander South Pacific. As such, he saw action during the Northern Solomons Campaign.
“For distinguishing himself by meritorious conduct…as Assistant to the Force Medical Officer on the staff of the Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force from November 26,1945 to April 1, 1945…” he received a Letter of Commendation with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon, from the Commander South Pacific. The citation further states in part: “During this period, Lieutenant Calkins displayed exceptional ability and worked tirelessly in handling the many detailed problems incident to the planning and organizing of an efficient medical administrative program. Through his initiative and thorough knowledge of medical logistics, he rendered invaluable assistance to the Force Medical Officer in effecting an efficient hospital service for the sick and wounded in the South Pacific and from adjacent areas…”
Returning to the United States in May 1945, he became catalog Officer in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and as such was attached to the Joint Army-Navy Medical Procurement Office, New York, New York. In that capacity he prepared the first Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Section of the Catalog and Navy Material. In September 1946 he reported as Surplus Property Officers, Material Division, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Brooklyn, New York, and continued to serve in that assignment until May 1947, when he was assigned to the Finance Division Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
He next served from June 1953 to September 1954 as Commanding Officer of the Naval School of Hospital Administration, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. On September 29, 1954 he assumed the duties of Chief, Medical Service Corps, US Navy.
In addition to the Commendation Ribbon, Captain Calkins has the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and the Nation Defense Service Medal.