Adapted from "Vice Admiral Alexander G. Lyle, Dental Corps, Deceased," [biography, dated 8 April 1965] in Modern Officer Biographies Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command Archives, Washington Navy Yard.
Alexander Gordon Lyle
12 November 1889-15 July 1955
Alexander Gordon Lyle was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on November 12, 1889. He graduated from the Baltimore (Maryland) College of Dentistry, in 1912, and was appointed Assistant Dental Surgeon in the Navy April 21, 1915. He subsequently advanced in rank to that of Rear Admiral in the Dental Corps, to date from March 13, 1943. He was the transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on August 1, 1948, and was promoted to Vice Admiral on the basis of combat awards.
Following his appointment to the Dental Corps of the Navy in 1915, he was ordered to the Naval Station, Newport, Rhode Island, where he remained until June 1917, soon after the United States entered World War I. Assigned to the Fifth Regiment of Marines, he served with that regiment in France throughout the War. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Silver Star Medal (Army), with the following citations:
Medal of Honor: “For extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with the Fifth Regiment United States Marines. Under heavy shell fire, on April 23, 1918, he rushed to the assistance of Corporal Thomas Regan, who was seriously wounded, and administered such effective surgical aid while bombardment was still continuing, as to save the life of Corporal Regan.”
Silver Star Medal (Army): “…did, under heavy shellfire on April 13, 1918, rush to the assistance of Corporal Thomas Regan, Supply Company, Fifth Regiment, U. S. Marine Corps, who was seriously wounded,.. at the very peril of his own life, saving that of Corporal Regan.”
For gallantry in the Soisson Sector in July 1918, he received an Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Silver Star Medal from the Army, and was awarded the Italian War Cross and Diploma by the Government of Italy for “distinguished and exceptional gallantry” in France. He also received the Fourragere for service with the Fifth Regiment, U. S. Marines.
After the end of hostilities, he served with the Navy Staff Representatives in Paris at Base Hospital Number Two, before returning to the United States. He was station at the Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, from August 1919, until the following December, when he was ordered to the New York Navy Yard for duty in connection with fitting out the USS Tennessee (Battleship No. 43). He served in that battleship from her commissioning, June 3, 1920, until September 1922. He had dury at Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island, until October 1925, and following an assignment afloat in the USS California (Battleship No. 44), returned to the Naval Training Station, Newport, serving there from May 1927 until the summer of 1930.
He again had service with the Marines when he joined the Fourth Regiment in Shanghai in July 1930 and participated in operations in the Valley of the Yangtze River. When detached in August 1931, he served for a year in the USS Houston (CA-30), flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, and in September 1932 returned to Newport, Rhode Island, where he remained until August 1936. He next completed instruction at the Army Industrial College, Washington, D. C. From June 1937 to February 1940, he was attached to the Naval Dispensary, Washington, D. C., after which he was assigned for a year to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. He then transferred to the Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, where he served until April 6, 1943. His promotion to Dental Surgeon with the rank of Rear Admiral in March 1943, marked the elevation to the flag rank of the first man of the Dental Corps of any armed services.
He reported in April 1943 as Inspector of Dental Materials at the Medical Supply Depot, Brooklyn New York, and served in that capacity until September 28, 1943. At that time he was ordered to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department, Washington, D. C. and was named Inspector of Dental Activites for the Navy, a post he held until June 14, 1945. He then became Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for Dentistry, with additional duty from that date until August 14, 1946, as Acting Chief of the Dental Division.
He received a Letter of Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy, with the following citation:
“For outstanding performance of duty as Inspector of Dental Activities for the Navy during the pre-war national emergency, and as assistant to the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Providing exceptional technical knowledge, invaluable experience and professional skill to the direction of an essential task, (he) rendered efficient assistance to the Surgeon General by procuring adequate and qualified dental personnel and equipment for the expanding Navy and Marine Corps and exercising judgment and vision, was personally responsible for developing a postgraduate training program for dental officers and technicians…”
He became General Inspector (Dental) in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and served as such from April 1, 1947 until relieved of active duty prior to his retirement on August 1, 1948. He died on July 15, 1955 at Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Commendation Ribbon, and Italian War Cross and Diploma, Vice Admiral Lyle had the Victory Medal, Overseas Clasp; Yangtze Service Medal; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; and World War II Victory Medal. He held and honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Maryland.