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Blankenship to receive Distinguished Alumnus Award

Thursday, October 1, 2009   (0 Comments)
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Blankenship to receive Distinguished Alumnus Award

Dr. Billy J. Blankenship of Corpus Christi will be honored as the recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Stephen F. Austin State University Alumni Association during the annual 81st Homecoming celebration at the university.

Blankenship will be recognized at 8 p.m. Oct. 23 during the Distinguished Alumnus Award presentation at Lumberjack Bash. Lumberjack Bash begins at 6 p.m. at the Grand Ballroom of the Baker Pattillo Student Center.

Brady Smith, a 1994 SFA graduate and resident of Encino, Calif., also will be honored during the evening as the recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

Reserved seating tickets for the awards presentation are $10 each and must be purchased in advance. Seating is limited, and tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award was initiated in 1966 to honor SFA's former students whose participation and dedication have helped strengthen the total program at SFA.

A native of Longview, Blankenship is a fifth-generation Texan who has had an illustrious career as a military officer, doctor, dentist, pilot and professor.

He graduated from SFA in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science degree and in 1954 with a Master of Education degree. He earned a D.D.S. from the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston in 1958 and his M.D. from University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1963.

Blankenship’s military career spans several branches of the armed forces, including the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, where served during the invasion of Okinawa in World War II, China Civil War, Korean War, Cuban Liberation Army and Vietnam. By the time he was 21, Blankenship had sailed around the world five times while serving in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Indian, North Sea and Persian Gulf.

During his career, Blankenship logged miles in 90 foreign countries and all 50 states. His exploits include escaping from being held prisoner for two days following the capture of his merchant ship by the Red Chinese, working with the elite Navy SEALS and assisting with the recovery of a spy plane in Thailand.

From 1957 to 1988, he served as a physician and dentist for the Navy, Air Force and Marines. Blankenship spent four years as a professor of surgery and pharmacology for the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, two years as chief of the surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery division at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston and three years as surgeon and assistant professor at UTMB-Galveston. He is past medical director of hyperbaric medicine at Spohn Memorial Hospital and Spohn Shoreline Hospital in Corpus Christi and is a former professor and director of the dental department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi.

He is a noted consultant in the specialty areas of hyperbaric medicine, aerospace and diving medicine, oral and maxillofacial surgery and wound care medicine to hospitals in the south Texas area.

Throughout his career, Blankenship has published or presented more than 150 papers, held memberships in 80 professional organizations and served without pay on four different occasions in foreign medical clinics. He has received 55 decorations from the Armed Forces and a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. State Department for his service.

His highest military rank is captain in the medical corps of the U.S. Navy. Blankenship’s awards also include a Post-Doctoral Fellowship by the U.S Public Health Service, 1958-1960; 1963 AOA Honor Medical Society and 1966 Certificate of Humanitarian Service by the American Heart Association; 1958 OKU Honor Dental Society by the American Dental Association; and 1999 International and 2007 Marquis Who’s Who in America.

Blankenship’s current affiliations include the Texas Medical Association, Nueces County Medical Society, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, Submarine Veterans of the United States, Undersea Medical Society, division surgeon for the 3rd Marine Division, Fleet Reserve Association and the Society of Quiet Birdmen of America. He also has served in medical missionary units to Central America on three occasions.

Blankenship and his wife Carolyn, a 1952 and 1954 SFA graduate, have three daughters, Roberta, Jimmie and Jean Ann.

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