RICHARD S. GREEN
THE FIFTH CHIEF ENGINEER OF THE USPHS COMMISSIONED CORPS
Chief Engineer: 1970-1973
Richard Stedman Green, born in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1914, was known to his friends and colleagues as “Sted.” His career exemplifies outstanding engineering achievement, leadership, vision, and service to his country
Green received a Bachelor degree in engineering science from Harvard University in 1936, where he also received a Master of Sanitary Engineering degree in 1937. He began his working career as a field engineer with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and subsequently as a research associate in airborne infection at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. Later, working for the Army Corps of Engineers, he served as Superintendent of Water Purification for the Panama Canal Zone prior to joining the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service in 1941. His service in the Corps was to extend 32 years through 1973.
“Sted” Green, a well recognized specialist in water pollution control, served on PHS assignments in engineering and management posts in a variety of states including Maine, Washington and Alaska. During the war years from 1942 to 1946, he was the Director of the Department of Sanitary Engineering for the Territory of Alaska in Juneau. There, he had to coordinate difficult and sensitive environmental health issues with the military and civilian authorities. In 1943 he married Verona Herman in Juneau, Alaska.
After the war he transferred to Washington, D.C. where he worked in a number of programs, including shellfish, civil defense (facilities protection), and collection of national technical water supply and pollution data. He was a leader in federal water pollution control efforts within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (Later the Department of Health and Human Services) as well as the Department of the Interior in its pollution surveillance program.
One of his most significant assignments, by his own accounting, was his work in the Indian Health Service beginning in 1967. He headed the engineering programs for the IHS as the Director of the Office of Environmental Health. During this time the Indian Health Service led an unprecedented growth in needed sanitation facilities for the Indian beneficiaries. In the period of 1967 to 1971, the percent of homes of American Indians and Alaska Natives with adequate sanitation facilities increased from 24% to 48%. The 58% decrease in gastro enteric related mortality and 38% decrease in post neonatal mortality are generally attributed in large part to these environmental changes.
Richard Stedman Green was elevated to the rank of Rear Admiral (RADM) with the corresponding titles of Chief Engineer and Assistant Surgeon General in 1970, a post he held until his retirement from the Public Health Service in 1973.
During his career RADM Green served as Chairman of the Surgeon General’s Engineer Career Development Committee, the Surgeon General’s Task Force on Commissioned Corps Personnel, The American Society of Civil Engineers Committee on Instrumentation and Data Processing Systems and the US Geological Survey Interim Advisory Committee on Water Data for Public Use. RADM Green was a diplomat in the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, and served as its president in 1976.
He was a recipient of the Public Health Service’s Commendation Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal. He also received the Water Pollution Control Federation’s William D. Hatfield Award. The American Society of Military Engineers annually awards a medal in his name to a PHS officer who has made an outstanding contribution to public health engineering and science. He passed away in 1998 at age 84 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.