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Edgar Erskine Hume was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on December 26, 1889. He was graduated from Centre College, Kentucky, as a Bachelor of Arts, 1908, and Master of Arts, 1909; from Johns Hopkins University as a Doctor of Medicine, 1913; from the University of Munich, 1914; and the University of Rome, 1915. He was appointed first lieutenant, Medical Reserve Corps, on September 16, 1916, and detailed to the Army Medical School, Washington, D C., as a student. He was graduated from the Army Medical School in 1917, standing No. 1 in his class, and commissioned a first lieutenant, Medical Corps, RA, with date of rank from January 14, 1917.
General Hume was distinguished also as a linguist and a scholar. He was for several years librarian of the famous Library of the Surgeon General in Washington and he is credited with having produced some 200 books and papers, many of them on various phases of the history of medicine.
In addition General Hume enjoyed the reputation for being one of the most honored and decorated officers in the Army, or certainly in the medical branch. He wore the decorations of no fewer than 38 foreign countries. He held honorary degrees from 23 colleges and universities. He was a member of 6 Greek letter fraternities and the founder of one of them. He enjoyed honorary citizenship in 40 Italian and Austrian cities; and, to cap the climax, he was an honorary colonel in the old Royal Serbian Army.
General Hume was Parole Officer and Director of the Department of Sociology at the US Disciplinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, from March to November 1917. He then was assigned to the Division of Sanitation, Office of the Surgeon General (General Gorgas), Washington, D. C., as Executive Officer, until June 1918. He was the last member of General Gorgas's staff on active service.
He then sailed for Europe, where he served as Commanding Officer, Base Hospital No. 102, which was expanded into a composite hospital center with the Italian Army, until February 1919. During the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, 1918, he served, in turn, with surgical units with the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth and Twelfth Italian Armies. On temporary duty with the British Expeditionary Force in France and present at the battles of MeuseArgonne and Saint-Mihiel. He was American Red Cross Commissioner to Serbia and surrounding territory and Director of the anti-typhus fever campaign in the Balkan States until August 1920, when he returned to the United States.
In November, 1920, he was assigned as Assistant to the Commanding Officer, and later as Commanding Officer, Corps Area Laboratory, I Corps Area, Fort Banks, Massachusetts, where he served until June, 1922. During this period, on his own time, he completed the course in Public Health at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving, in 1921, the Certificate in Public Health (subsequently changed to the degree of Master of Public Health). He was also graduated from the Harvard School of Tropical Medicine, receiving the Diploma in Tropical Medicine in 1922.
He next was Assistant Librarian of the Army Medical Library, as well as Editor of its Index Catalogue, the world's standard of medical bibliography, in Washington, D. C., to April 1926. While assigned to the Library he completed requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Public Health and received that degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1924. Until October, 1930, he was Medical Inspector and Epidemiologist at Ft. Benning, Georgia. While at that post he completed the Advanced Course, Infantry School, from which he was graduated in 1928. He was Instructor in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire National Guard, Boston, Massachusetts, to September, 1932.
In September, 1932, he was appointed Librarian, Army Medical Library, Washington, D. C., where he served until October, 1936, when he was assigned to the Medical Field Service School, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, as Director of Administration. After graduation from the Advanced Course in the Medical Field Service School, he continued as Director of Administration and Public Relations Officer until January 1943, when he became Commanding Officer of Winter General Hospital, Topeka, Kansas.
In April 1943, General Hume was assigned to General Eisenhower Staff in North Africa for military government planning for the invasion of Sicily and Italy. In July and August of 1943, he was Chief of Public Health for Sicily. From August, 1943, to September, 1945, he was Chief of Allied Military Government and Assistant Chief of Staff (General Staff Corps) of the 5th Army. He participated in the initial landing at Salerno, September 9, 1943. He was successively in charge of the Allied Military Government of all the large cities of Italy, from Naples to Milan, including Rome, Florence, Siena, Pisa, Genoa, Turin, Verona, etc., governing two-thirds of Italy and three-fourths of the Italian population. He was present at the battles of Naples, Anzio, Montaquila, Apennines, Po Valley, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. General Hume was the only U. S. officer who served in Italy in both World Wars.
From September, 1945, until June, 1947, he was Chief of Military Government in the United States Zone of Austria; June, 1947 to June, 1949, Chief of the Reorientation Branch, Civil Affairs Division, Department of the Army, Washington, D. C.; and from June, 1949, Chief Surgeon of the Far East Command on General MacArthur's staff. On 30 July 1950, General MacArthur appointed him Surgeon (Director General of Medical Services) of the United Nations Command in Korea.
From 1925, General Hume was the United States Correspondent for the International Congresses of Military Medicine and delegate to their meetings at Paris, in 1925; London, 1929; The Hague, 1931; Brussels, 1935; Mexico, 1936; Bucharest, 1937; Washington, D. C., 1939; Basle, Switzerland, 1947; Stockholm, 1948; Monaco, 1950. He also represented the United States at other international scientific congresses.