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Adapted from "Captain Kenneth L. Urban, Dental Corps, United States Navy" [biography, dated 9 November 1967] in Biographies, 20th century collection, Navy Department Library.

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  • Biography
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  • World War II 1939-1945
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Kenneth Lee Urban

4 August 1911 - 30 July 1997

Kenneth Lee Urban was born in Perryville, Missouri, on 4 August 1911, son of Dr. Walter E. Urban and Mrs. (Nettie Lee Bush) Urban, both now deceased. He graduated from Perryville High School in 1929 and received the degrees of Bachelor of Arts from Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri in 1929 and Doctor of Dental Surgery from St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1937. He later received the degree of Master of Arts in Education (School Administration) from American University, Washington, DC. He was commissioned Lieutenant (junior grade) in the Dental Corps of the US Navy on 20 October 1937 and subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date from 1 July 1953.

After receiving his commission in the Navy in 1937, he had indoctrination at the Naval Medical Center, Washington, DC, until February 1938, then served as Assistant Dental Officer at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington. He remained there until September 1939, when he joined the USS Richmond, which participated in convoy duty in the South Pacific during the early part of World War II. Detached from that cruiser in April 1942, he reported the following month as Senior Assistant Dental Officer at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia. While there he had postgraduate study in maxilla-facial surgery at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, in 1942.

In February 1944 he joined the USS Wasp as Senior Dental Officer. While attached to that aircraft carrier, he saw action during most of the major operations, including the Marianas Campaign, the Philippine Liberation, and action at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, China Coast, Japanese Mainland and Manus. He is entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Navy Unit Commendation awarded that aircraft carrier.

He reported in June 1945 as Senior Assistant Dental Officer at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, California, and in October of that year became Senior Dental Officer at the Naval Hospital, Camp Wallace, Texas. From September 1946 to June 1948 he was Assistant Dental Officer at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, California. After participating in the new system of dental technician training at a conference in Washington, DC, he put into commission and was Officer-in-Charge of the Naval Dental Technician School, San Diego. In June 1950 he became Officer in Charge of the Dental Practitioner School, Guam, Mariana Islands. This school, under jurisdiction of the US Navy Department, taught natives from the Trust Territory to become dental practitioners in order to administer to their people on their particular island. When the Trust Territories were turned over to the Department of Interior, the School was transferred to Suva, Fiji Island and placed under British jurisdiction. In April 1951 he assumed duty as Chief of Dental Service at the US Naval Hospital, Guam, Mariana Islands and while there also served as Consultant/Instructor at the Guam Memorial Hospital.

Between January 1952 and August 1955 he was Officer-in-Charge of the Naval Dental Technician School, Great Lakes, Illinois, and in that capacity trained Navy and Air Force personnel to become dental technicians. Ordered to the Naval Dental School, Bethesda, Maryland, he headed the Enlisted Training Department until September 1956 when he became Head of the Officer Training Department. From November 1958 to January 1959 he had collateral duty as Executive Officer of the Naval Dental School. He reported in January 1959 as Executive Officer of the Dental Clinic at Headquarters, Potomac River Naval Command, Washington, DC.

In June 1961 he became Senior Dental Officer at Headquarters, US Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy, and on the Staff of Commander Fleet Air, Mediterranean where he remained until June 1964. The next month he became District Dental Officer, naval District Washington, DC, with collateral duty as District Dental Officer. On 1 July 1965 he assumed command of the Naval Dental School, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.

In addition to the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Captain Urban had the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star and two bronze stars (seven operations); World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.

His “home town” address was in Perryville, Missouri. He was married to the former Marjorie Cooper of San Diego, California, and they had two daughters. Dr. Urban was a member of the following dental societies: American Dental Association; American Association of Dental Schools; and International Association Dental Research; a Fellow, American College of Dentists and Maryland State Dental Society. Active in civic affairs, he was a member of the Board of Directors, Norfolk (Virginia) Symphony (1943); Director, School Board, Naples, Italy (1961-1963); Director, Teenage Club, Naples Italy (1961-1963); Area Governor, Toastmasters, Bethesda, Maryland (1958); and Superintendent of the Navy Chapel, Bremerton, Washington (1939). In November 1967 he was selected by the President of St. Louis University and the Board of Regents to be the recipient of the Merit Alumni Award to be presented on Founder’s Day.

Captain Urban died 30 July 1997 and was buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.

Published: Wed Mar 06 11:05:47 EST 2019