Leo Joseph Elsasser was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on January 15, 1907, the son of Joseph Peter and Katherine Anna (Shoemaker) Elsasser. He received his early education from public schools in Omaha (Creighton High School) and Billings High School, Billings, Montana, and later attended Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC.
He enlisted in the US Navy on September 29, 1930, and was serving as a Chief Warrant Officer (Pharmacist) at the outbreak of World War II in December 1941. He was subsequently commissioned Ensign in the Hospital Corps from June 16, 1942, was appointed Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps (when it was established in 1947), to date from July 1, 1944, and advanced to Lieutenant Commander, March 21, 1949, to Commander from January 1, 1955, and to Captain with his appointment as Chief of the Medical Service Corps on October 1, 1958.
Beginning his officer service with his assignment as Personnel Officer at the Naval Hospital, Brooklyn, New York, he served there from June 1942 until July 1943, and for four months thereafter had similar duty at the US Naval Medical Supply Depot, Brooklyn. In December 1943 he reported as Administrative Officer of US Fleet Hospital #111 in the Pacific, and remained on duty there throughout the remaining war period and until November 1945.
In February 1946 he became Administrative Officer at the District Medical Office, First Naval District, Boston, Massachusetts, and when detached in November of that year, he reported for similar duty at the Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Massachusetts, serving there from December 1946 until October 1949. Ordered next to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department, Washington, DC, as Administrative Officer, he was the first Director of the Bureau’s Hospital Administration, and served in that captain until August 1950. He then had a tour of duty as Administrative Officer of the Naval Hospital, San Diego, California, followed by duty from July 1954 until December 1956. As Administrative Officer of the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Illinois.
Under orders of December 14, 1956, he returned to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for further duty, and on September 17, 1957, was designated Commanding Officer of the Naval School of Hospital Administration, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda. He served in that capacity until October 1, 1958, when he assumed the duties of Chief of the Medical Service Corps.
Captain Elsasser has the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal. He is a member of the American Hospital Association, and has served on its Council on Planning, Financing and Prepayment.
He died on October 16, 1981.