Retired Feb. 1, 1968. Died Aug. 2, 1987.
Fratis Lee Duff was born in Randlett, Okla. in 1910. He later moved to Lawton, Okla., where he graduated from Lawton High School in 1927. He attended Austin College at Sherman, Texas, for one year and then the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry in 1933.
He then joined the Public Health Department of the City of Lawton, where he carried out the duties of sanitary engineer and health inspector. In this position he worked closely with the Army Medical Service at Fort Sill, Okla., in providing sanitary milk and water, and in handling other mutual health problems between the city and the Army post.
With this background and experience in public health he entered the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine in 1935. While in medical school, in addition to his medical studies he carried out research in biochemistry under the professor of biochemistry, now dean of the Medical School, Dr. Mark R. Everett. He was elected to the research fraternity Sigma Xi, and graduated in 1939 at the head of his class, receiving a doctor of medicine degree with honors.
Dr. Duff interned at Colorado General Hospital, Denver, Colo. He entered active service in the Army Medical Corps and was assigned to Fort Francis E. Warren, Wyo.
One year later, because of his previous experience in laboratory and preventive medicine, Lieutenant Duff was assigned to the Army Medical School at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center for studies in laboratory medicine and pathology. The approaching war interrupted these studies and he became chief of the Division of Parasitology, and was placed in charge of a new course in Tropical Medicine. In this position he worked with Dr. Richard P. Strong, world authority on tropical diseases and professor emeritus of Harvard University Medical School. While conducting research to develop an effective vaccine against epidemic typhus fever, Captain Duff contracted a laboratory infection of Q fever and was convalescent in Walter Reed Hospital when the Pearl Harbor attack occurred.
In 1942 Major Duff went to India as chief of a malaria control team. He was reassigned to the newly activated Ninth Air Force in Egypt where he organized a preventive medicine team to improve sanitation in the U.S. units operating in the desert campaign after the battle of El Alemain. He later became the assistant surgeon of the Ninth Air Service Command.
After the defeat of Rommel in Africa and the invasion of Sicily, Lieutenant Colonel Duff was recalled to the School of Aviation Medicine to teach tropical medicine. During this four-year assignment he became the director of education and later the assistant commandant of the school. Dr. Duff was also the commanding officer of the only flight nurses' overseas replacement depot. For his work in teaching and research he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
In 1947 he became the surgeon of the 315th Composite Wing in Itazuke, Japan, and later the deputy surgeon, Far East Air Forces, in Tokyo.
Upon returning from overseas, Dr. Duff became the assistant professor of military science and tactics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. While in this assignment, he carried out postgraduate studies in preventive medicine and public health at the School of Hygiene and was awarded the master of public health and later the doctor of public health degrees. The research and thesis for his doctorate was on the effects of climate on respiratory disease in military recruit populations.
In 1951 Colonel Duff became the chief, Preventive Medicine, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Air Force. In this assignment he was active in establishing the preventive medicine program for the newly formed Air Force Medical Service.
He left this assignment to become the commandant of the Gunter Branch of the School of Aviation Medicine at Montgomery, Ala. During his almost six years in this assignment the training of officers and airmen of the Medical Service was greatly expanded and numerous new courses instituted in the various medical specialties. Colonel Duff was awarded the first oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit for his work at this school. He was also awarded the Chinese Flight Surgeon Wings by the surgeon general, Chinese air force, for his assistance in training Chinese students.
Upon leaving Gunter, Colonel Duff became the deputy surgeon, U.S. Air Forces in Europe. While in this assignment he applied his experience and education in preventive medicine and tropical medicine to the medical problems of the Congo airlift support of Project Mercury, and was adviser to the American ambassador at the Agadir, Morocco earthquake. He was awarded the Certificate of Achievement in Preventive Medicine and the "A" suffix was added to his Air Force specialty code.
Colonel Duff returned from Europe in 1962 to become the surgeon of the Air Force Systems Command. He was promoted to brigadier general May 1, 1963.
Dr. Duff is a chief flight surgeon. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine in both public health and aviation medicine.
General Duff is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine, fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association, and fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine.