Doctor Seymour Levine, a retired Army colonel who served as the military hospital commander at Fort Belvoir, Fort Monroe and Fort Lee, Va.; Kagnew Station, Ethiopia; SHAPE Headquarters, Belgium; and Tehran, Iran, has died at 81. He died Saturday evening at his home in Potomac. He had progressive supranuclear palsy.
Sy Levine was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1933. After graduating from New York University with a bachelor of arts in biology in 1954, he continued his education at the School of Medicine at the University of Geneva in Switzerland where he received his doctorate of medicine in 1959. He did all of his studies in French. After finishing medical school, he returned to the United States and completed a rotating internship at the Kings County Hospital Center, State University of New York until December 1960.
Commissioned as a captain in the United States Army in January 1961, Dr. Levine attended the Army Medical Department Officer Basic Course and by June 1961 was assigned as a surgeon with the 6/52 Artillery Battalion in Wurzburg, Germany, the first operational HAWK unit in the Army.
After a four-year general surgery residency at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, Dr. Levine was selected for reassignment to the Republic of Vietnam and left for Saigon on August 29, 1967, for a one-year deployment. Given his fluency in French, the professional language of Vietnamese military medical community, Dr. Levine served as a medical adviser to the Vietnamese Army. Dr. Levine served in Saigon during the Tet Offensive and received the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Service Medal with four battle stars.
Following two years as the chief of surgery at the U.S. Army Hospital in Munich, Germany, Dr. Levine was selected for the first of what would be six command positions in his career. In September 1970, he was assigned as the commander and chief surgeon of the U.S. Army Hospital at the Army intelligence post at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Ethiopia, during a period of increased fighting between the Eritrean resistance and the Ethiopian government forces. During this assignment, Dr. Levine also served as a physician to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. He remained at this assignment until the Army shut down operations at Kagnew Station in July 1973.
Upon completion of his advanced degree, Dr. Levine was promoted to the rank of colonel and selected to be the commander of the U.S. Army Hospital, United States Army Mission Headquarters, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Tehran, Iran, where he assumed responsibility for Army medical support in the Middle East. Dr. Levine and his family departed Iran with the fall of the Shah.
Later, he commanded the U.S. Army Hospital and SHAPE Medical Center in Casteau, Belgium, then served as the commander of the U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Lee, Va. His final assignment was at Fort Belvoir as commander of the Dewitt Army Community Hospital.
Dr. Levine retired from active duty on in 1991 after 30 years of service but was immediately recalled to active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm. Dr. Levine retired from active duty a second time in January 1993.
In August 1993, Dr. Levine returned to duty in a civilian capacity as the medical member of the U.S. Army Physical Evaluation Board at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. During his long service, he was often the only adjudicating physician on the board, working well into the night expediting the medical retirements of soldiers critically wounded and injured from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Levine sponsored the development of new procedures to ensure soldiers wounded in combat receive entitled benefits. On July 30, 2011, after 50 years of service, Levine retired for the final time.
Among Levine’s awards are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with five oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster. He has several unit citations and foreign awards such as the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, French National Order of Merit (Officer), the Italian National Order of Merit (Officer) and the German Silver Cross of Honor.
Levine is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Vladya Mina Nahman of Geneva, Switzerland, along with their three daughters, Ariane Promisel (Steve) of Potomac, (Ret.) Brig. Gen. Muriel McCarthy (Michael) of Alexandria and Natacha Myers (Larry) of Potomac; four grandchildren Kameron, Roshan, Eli and Chloe; and his sister Sabrina Shapiro of Floral Park, N.Y.