Thursday, February 22, 2024

Dr. Frank Tiffany, M.D. 1946–2011

Vietnam Vet, Popular Doctor

CORONADO – Vietnam was a long way from Coronado. Doctor Frank Tiffany had that thought many times while serving in country as a Green Beret combat medic with the U.S. Special Forces. One of his jobs was to befriend the indigenous Montagnard hill tribe people and seek their support in fighting the enemy.

Frank Tiffany served in the Army from 1967 until 1970 before entering into a medical career that lasted more than 35 years. He died December 20, 2011 at his home in Coronado. He was 65.

After high school Frank volunteered to join the United States Army. He performed parachute training at Fort Benning, GA, and also trained at the US Army Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, NC. Frank completed his Special Forces medical training at Fort Sam Houston, TX. He earned his Green Beret and was assigned to the 10th Group US Army Special Forces at Bad Tölz, Germany.

Frank Tiffany, Coronado High School, Class of 1964.

There was a war going on and Frank wanted to be of greater help to his country. He wasted no time in applying for transfer to 5th Group Special Forces in the Republic of Vietnam. As a medical corpsman he served as a rifle and parachute-qualified sergeant in the Special Forces, receiving wounds from enemy fire while providing aid to fallen comrades.

He served with A-team at Dak Pek, and then performed a special mission for the Walter Reed Hospital Research program. Upon completing that assignment Frank volunteered for service with MIKE Force (Mobile Strike Force) IV.

Frank Tiffany, serving in Vietnam as part of MIKE Force.

MIKE was a Special Forces unit that worked as individuals or in small teams within the indigenous Montagnard hill tribe people. The hill people were recruited by U.S. Special Forces to serve as front-line fighters alongside U.S. Army troops during the war.

The Communist Vietnamese government targeted the Montagnards as traitors and U.S. spies both during and after the war. They, and their American associates, including members of the American medical team such as Frank Tiffany, had a tremendously dangerous time of it during the war.

Frank Tiffany, center, in country with the Montagnard hill tribe people.

Frank was released from active duty in 1970 with an Honorable Discharge at the rank of Sergeant. For his contributions to his country Frank Tiffany was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V,” a Purple Heart, and an Army Combat Medical Badge – the latter awarded to medics who went about their business under enemy fire.

Frank was also presented a Presidential Unit Citation and Meritorious Unit Citation, along with a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, a Vietnam Service Ribbon and Vietnamese Campaign Ribbon with National Defense Ribbon.

Born in Suzurandai, Japan, February 17, 1946, Frank’s father, Frank Rupert, was an American POW held near Kobe, Japan. His mother, Yoshiko, was the youngest daughter of a British Parsee father and a Japanese mother.

Kobe, Japan, before World War II.

Initially after leaving Japan the family lived in Pennsylvania. Later on Yoshiko married a Navy pilot and the family moved to Coronado where Frank played football for Coronado High School. He graduated from CHS in 1964.

After high school Frank attended two years of school at the College of San Mateo before transferring to the University of California San Diego as a math major.

In 1975 he graduated from the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine. While there he received the Roche Award for outstanding medical student. He was also a member of the AOA National Medical Honor Society, which admits the top five percent of students from their class.

While studying at the UCLA School of Medicine Frank earned a Postgraduate Certificate. He completed his internship in 1976 and his Residency in 1978. Both were completed at Los Angeles County General Hospital in the fields of internal and emergency medicine.

Doctor Tiffany later served as director of Adult Ambulatory Care and assistant chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.

Frank met his wife Barbara while working in the emergency department at Long Beach community Hospital. They married in 1985 and later that year moved to Wyoming where they found a rural area in need of a Doctor. “Frank was very excited the first time he was paid for his services in buffalo meat,” recalled Barbara.

Doctor Frank Tiffany poses with Mike Stern (left) and Walt Winters at a Las Vegas Special Forces Reunion.

Less than two years after the move an accident resulting in a fractured back left Dr. Tiffany paralyzed and in a wheelchair. With excellent physical therapy, and much courage on his part, he was walking with assistance within six months.

It was during this time the couple moved to Reno, NV where Dr. Tiffany joined a successful medical group. Being on call and having to get up and go to the hospital in the middle of the night, however, proved too strenuous for him. It was decided a change would have to be made. Later he would practice in Las Vegas before returning to San Diego.

Frank returned home to Coronado in 1998 and had resided here since. At the time of his passing Dr. Tiffany was director of Horizon Hospice of Poway and worked in Dr. James McSweeney’s office in San Diego.

In 2000 Dr. Tiffany was listed in the National Registry of Who’s Who in Medicine and was selected Top Doctor in San Diego by the International Association of Internists in 2010.

Medicine was Dr. Tiffany’s true calling. He was an excellent diagnostician and believed that patient care should be very individualized. Patients were given his home phone number and encouraged to use it if they had questions or problems. “Rarely was there a night without patient calls,” said his wife. “Frank also took care of friends, neighbors and co-workers’ families.”

Doctor Tiffany, left, poses with Dr. Mike Stern of Los Vegas.The two had known each other since Vietnam.

Doctor Frank Tiffany is survived by his wife Barbara Tiffany and mother Yoshiko Tiffany, both residents of Coronado. He is also survived by a daughter, Adrienne Herro, of Northern California.

A memorial service will take place Saturday, January 21, from 2-4 p.m. at the Coronado Yacht Club. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project, “In Memory of Dr. Frank Tiffany” (4899 Belfort Road, Ste. 300, Jacksonville, FL 32256).

Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call [email protected], or (619) 742-1034.

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