John Howard Cheffey was born in Smithfield, Ohio, on October 17, 1916, son of Windsor H. and Zana M. (Galbraith) Cheffey, both now deceased. He attended the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Science in 1938. While there, he was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit and upon graduation was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps, US Army Reserve. He continued duty in the US Army Reserve, serving as Second Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps. In 1942 he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in June 15, that year was commissioned Acting Assistant Surgeon, with the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade), in the US Navy. He subsequently advanced in rank to that of Rear Admiral, to date from August 1, 1968.
After receiving his commission in 1942, he interned at the Norfolk Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia, until June 1943, then had duty on the Staff there until August of that year. He was next assigned as Medical Officer at the Naval Construction Training Center, Camp Peary, Williamsburg, Virginia, and in December 1943 reported for duty in connection with the conversion of USS General H.W. Butner (AP 113) at the Maryland Dry Dock Company, Baltimore. He joined that transport as Junior Medical Officer upon her commissioning, January 11, 1944. That vessel supported wartime operations by transporting troops to and from the European and Pacific War Area.
Detached from the H.W. Butner in October 1945, he was next a Resident, Surgery, at the Naval Hospital, Bainbridge, Maryland, and in April 1946 was assigned to the Staff at the Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia. He was a Resident, Orthopedic Surgery, at the Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Massachusetts, from September 1946 to January 1948, after which he had instruction I Children’s Orthopedics at the Alfred I. DuPont Institute, Wilmington, Delaware. In January 1949 he joined the Staff at the Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland, and in July 1950 became Officer in Charge of “E” Company, First Medical Battalion First Marine Division, Fleet Marine. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal medical battalion during operations against the enemy in Korea from January 1, to June 9, 1951…” he is also entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the First Marine Aircraft Wing, Reinforced.
In June 1951 he reported as Chief of Orthopedic Survey at the Naval Hospital, Key West, Florida, and in November 1953 transferred to the Navy Hospital, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, where he served as Assistant Chief and Chief of Orthopedics until March 1956. Following an assignment, which extended to July 1958, as Chief of Orthopedic Service at the US Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan, he returned to the Naval Hospital, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, where he had similar duty. Between July 1964 and August 1966 he was Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for Personnel Control and Planning, Navy Department, Washington, DC, interspersed with service from January 1965 to January 1966 as a Member of the Secretary of the Navy’s Task Force on Personnel Retention, Navy Department. As such, his responsibilities were medical care in connection with habitability afloat and living conditions ashore. In August 1966 he became Assistant for Personnel to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health and Medical), Washington, DC, and in that capacity also had duty with the Administration of the Armed Forces Physicians Appointment and Residency Consideration Program (Berry Plan). He was awarded the Legion of Merit and cited as follows:
“For exceptionally meritorious service from July 1964 to July 1967 while serving successively in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, on the Secretary of the Navy’s Retention Task Force, and in the Officer of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health and Medical). In all three if these assignments, Captain Cheffey demonstrated exceptional dedication, sound judgment, and a thorough knowledge of the naval service, all of which served to attest his performance of duty as being truly outstanding in every respect. In addition to his significant contribution toward providing policies and economies during the period of Medical Department build-up for the Vietnam conflict, he was contributed greatly to the complex and vastly important deliberations and reports of the Secretary of the Navy’s Retention Task Force, and has been of inestimable value in the formulation and implementation of personnel policies on the Officer of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health and Medical)…”
In August 1967 he assumed command of the Naval Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island and in February 1969 became Commanding Officer of the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Illinois, with additional duty as District Medical Officer of the Ninth Naval District and Commanding Officer of the Naval Hospital Corps School, Great Lakes. He died at his quarters at Great Lakes, Illinois, on May 17, 1970.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat, “V”, and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Rear Admiral Cheffey had the American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal. He also has the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Badge.