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Richard Layton: Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award

In 1946, Richard Layton, a Second Class Petty Officer who was all of 19 years old, was sent by the Navy on a top-secret mission to Bikini Atoll to chart the effects of atomic bomb blasts on ships at sea in the Marshall Islands. That meant Layton, who enlisted fresh out of ≤oosevelt High School, would be exposed to scary amounts of radiation as he boarded the Navy ships in the blast zone to examine them for damage. After the Navy, Layton attended the UW, enjoyed a distinguished career in family medicine and helped create the UW’s nationally recognized WWAMI Program. For his service, he was honored in November with the Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award. When Layton, now 87, left the Navy, he had a letter from his commodore assuring him that he could attend the UW. “I hung on to that letter for dear life,” Layton, ’54, ’58, recalls. He enrolled at the UW and his professors encouraged him to apply to medical school. “I never dreamt of being a doctor,” he says. “I didn’t have any money.” After graduating from the new UW School of Medicine, he practiced rural medicine in Grandview, a small town southeast of Yakima, for nearly 20 years. Layton was also a pioneer physician in the WWAMI and Physician Assistant programs.—Julie Garner

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