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History of the Sanitarian in the Public Health Service

The following excerpt from A Brief History of the Sanitarian Category was provided by the PHS Historian.  The information includes PHS milestones that influenced the growth and number of officers in the Category.


The first sanitarians, Louis J. Ogden and Robert D. Murrill, were called to active duty as Assistant Sanitarians 1 February 1943.

Assignments during and after World War II included:

  • Malaria control activities near military training bases in the southern U.S
  • United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA) in North Africa and Greece Malaria control activities in Turkey as part of the Marshall Plan
  • Environmental health services (water purification, sewage disposal, food sanitation, insect and rodent control, etc.) for housing projects for the Federal Public Housing Authority (a wartime agency).

Sanitarian Category established in the Regular Corps. At this time the category accepted individuals with backgrounds in entomology, physics, chemistry, etc.

Development of training for State environmental health officials after WW II; began approximately 1948.

  • Accomplished through field training stations of the Communicable Disease Center, or its predecessor.
  • Provided a 3 month course in field application of all environmental health activities to US and foreign sanitarians.

In the 1950's sanitarians were first assigned to the Agency for International Development and served abroad in such programs as malaria control and water supply.


1943 - Heroes of Wartime Science and Mercy - The National Geographic Magazine, Dec. 1943 (PDF: 15 MB, 27 pages)

1963 - Darold W. Taylor, MPH - Newly Appointed Liaison Officer (PDF: 117 KB, 1 page)

1995 - 50th Anniversary Memo (PDF: 633 KB, 1 page)

2007 - COA Frontline, Vol. 44, Issue 6 - Sanitarians and Environmental Health Officers (p. 11-12) (PDF: 15 KB, 28 pages)

2010 - EHO Category Strength (1943-2010) (PDF: 60 KB, 12 pages)

2010 - Former CPO CAPT Randy Grinnell named ECU's Distinguished Alumni for 2010 (PDF: 578 KB, 3 pages)

2013 - RADM Richie Grinnell Promoted (PDF: 289 KB, 4 pages>