From the Aiken, SC, Standard, May 31, 2010. [Dr. Hightower was the grandson of John Osgood and Aileen Louise (Waldrop) Hightower of Jonesboro, Clayton County, GA, and a descendant of Joshua and Eleanor Hightower of Richmond County, VA, through their son Charnal Hightower and his wife Sarah Glascock. The names of his immediate surviving family have been removed for privacy]:
Dr. James O. Hightower Jr. died peacefully on May 18, 2010, at his home in Aiken.
Born to James O. and Kitty Hightower, he grew up in Jonesboro, Ga. He was a graduate of Jonesboro High School. Dr. Hightower enlisted in the Navy and served as a corpsman for more than two years during the Korean War. He left the Navy to pursue a degree in zoology at the University of Georgia. Following his graduation from UGA, he earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 1958.
As a physician, he joined the military serving as a fight surgeon and medical officer for 27 years in the Air Force. During that time, he earned a Master in Public Health from the University of California, Berkley. He then turned his ambition to aerospace medicine and graduated from the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, San Antonio, Texas. As a specialist in bioastronautics, he was responsible for the health, safety and performance of pilots. As a young captain, he served in Vietnam, where he was recognized as Flight Surgeon of the Year for his efforts at reducing risks to combat flight crews. Other recognitions during his wartime service included the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal, Two Air Medals with five clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal with cluster, Vietnam Service Medal with three clusters, RVN Campaign Medal, RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm Leaf, Two Meritorious Service Medals with cluster and Two Legion of Merit Medals. Dr. Hightower also earned the Korean War Medal during his service with the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.
On his return from Vietnam, he spent the next two years on the Manned Orbital Space Laboratory (MOL) as a flight surgeon to the astronauts selected to the MOL space program. Following his service to the U.S. space program, he spent four years stationed in Alaska, Elmendorf Air Force Base, as the Alaskan air command flight surgeon. Completing his service in Alaska, Col. Hightower was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona as the hospital commander and then assigned to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia in the same position. Col. Hightower was then assigned to the Air Force Surgeon General's Office at Brooks-Randolph Air Force Base in Texas.
Dr. Hightower settled in Aiken following his military retirement and began his second career in occupational medicine for Savannah River Plant, I.E. DuPont. After a short time, he was selected as the medical director at the Savannah River Site, where he served for 19 years. Dr. Hightower was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing and gardening. Dr. Hightower was a member of Retired Officer's Club, the Military Officers Association of America and the Aiken County Medical Society.
His greatest enjoyment was being Granddaddy to his 15 grandchildren, Uncle to his nieces and nephews and Dad to his six children. He will be missed dearly by his family and friends.
Memorials may be directed to the Tamassee DAR School, P.O. Box 8, Tamassee, SC 29686. Online donations may be made at www.TDARSchool.org.
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