Honoring vitality and integrity

Editors note: John Cusack and William Illingworth III met as first-year students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, now DMU, after serving in the Vietnam War. The two 1976 graduates became lifelong friends. Cusack recently honored his friend by making a gift to DMU for a memorial stone and plaque in front of the Student Education Center.

“When I remember Bill Illingworth, I mostly remember his youthful enthusiasm and vitality at whatever he pursued. He was a serious student, an excellent physician and loyal friend,” Cusack says. “He was someone who could readily make you smile and also challenge you intellectually. You felt better knowing he was close to your side in both clinical medicine and war.”

Here Cusack recaps his and his friend’s service and careers.

After graduation from the United States Military Academy, West Point, Lt. Illingworth volunteered for service in Vietnam. He was an Airborne Ranger who served as a platoon leader with the American Division.

In Vietnam, Lt. Illingworth was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, two Bronze Stars for valor, an Army Commendation Medal and a Purple Heart. He was medically evacuated from the battlefield to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, after having suffered, in close combat, over 27 fragmentation wounds to the thorax, right upper extremity and legs. (Because of nerve damage to his interosseous muscles, his military salute was unique and quite stylish.)

After physical rehabilitation, he served as General’s Aide to the Commandant of Cadets, West Point. As an active duty captain, he enrolled at DMU, and upon graduation was promoted to major. While at DMU, he married Ruth, a graduate of the University of Iowa School of Law.

Upon graduation, the couple moved to Washington, DC, where Dr. Illingworth completed his residency in anesthesiology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They then relocated to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, where Dr. Illingworth assumed chairmanship of the department of anesthesiology. He was board-certified.

Tragically and quite prematurely, Ruth died of breast carcinoma, and Dr. Illingworth soon later died of astrocytoma of the spinal cord. They are survived by their children.

Dr. Cusack graduated from Iowa State University and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Vietnam in 1967 through 1968 on the DMZ with the Third Marine Division, FMF. Later, after graduating from DMU, he returned to Naval service as a Navy Medical Corps officer and completed a psychiatry residency at Naval Medical Center, San Diego. He is board-certified. He was awarded two Combat Action Ribbons, the Legion of Merit Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, a Navy Commendation Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

After retirement as a Navy captain, Dr. Cusack was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, and later as a clinical professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.

Nowadays, Dr. Cusack divides his time between Idaho, Hawaii and Japan.

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