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Famed Texas Surgeon, HEMS Pioneer, Dies at 86

By Staff Writer | August 28, 2015

Dr. James "Red" Duke, a world-renowned trauma surgeon, professor and media icon, died Tuesday in Houston at the age of 86. Along with his many other accomplishments, Duke was known publicly as a television personality who explained medical issues to the public in the nationally syndicated program Texas Health Reports and as the first surgeon to receive U.S. President John F. Kennedy following his fatal shooting in 1963. Duke also was known in the rotorcraft community for helping to found Memorial Hermann Life Flight, the first air ambulance service in Texas and the second such service in the U.S. entirely. He served as Life Flight's medical director for nearly four decades. According to the Memorial Hermann Health System, the call sign "Red Duke" was established worldwide for Life Flight's communications with ATC under instrument flight rules.

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