Head of Walter Reed Hospital Victim of Chute Accident : Army Gen. James H. Rumbaugh, 49

From Associated Press

Maj. Gen. James H. Rumbaugh, commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, died of injuries suffered during a parachute accident in Honduras, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Rumbaugh died Wednesday night while being flown to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex., from the U.S. military hospital at Honduras’ Soto Cano Air Base outside Comayugua, said Defense Department spokesman Maj. John Smith.

That base is located to the northwest of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.

Rumbaugh, 49, was in Honduras participating in an exercise with a forward surgical deployment team. The Pentagon said in a prepared statement that Rumbaugh was an “experienced parachutist” and participated in a jump from a helicopter “with members of the 44th Medical Brigade at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.”


Abdominal Pains

“He went about his normal duties immediately after the jump,” the Pentagon statement added. “But several hours later he sought medical attention for abdominal pains.”

Physicians in Honduras reportedly discovered bleeding around Rumbaugh’s abdominal wall and recommended that he be flown to Brooke for further tests.

“Preliminary information indicates that the general suffered cardiac arrest on the airplane and medical personnel were unable to resuscitate him,” the Pentagon said in its statement.

“An autopsy will be performed at Walter Reed to determine the cause of death.”

Rumbaugh had taken command of the Army’s most prestigious hospital center last August. A native of Washington, Pa., who lived in Silver Spring, Md., Rumbaugh earned his medical degree from the Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

He joined the Army in June, 1963, while completing his studies at Thomas Jefferson and served his internship and a residency in psychiatry at Walter Reed.