Autobiography of Col Frances G. Ballentine, 1945 - 1970

(from 50 Years of AF Dietetics 1949-1999)

*Note – Although the US Air Force was established in 1947, the Air Force Medical Service (AFMS) was not established until 1949.  Effective 1 July 1949 thirty-eight (38) dietitians on active duty in the US Army Women’s Medical Specialist Corps (WMSC) were transferred at their own request to the WMSC of the United States Air Force.  Then1Lt Frances Gasson was one of those courageous and adventurous Army dietitians who voluntarily left the established Army system for the uncharted territory of the AFMS.   1Lt Frances Gasson went on to forge an illustrious Air Force career, retiring in 1970 at the rank of Colonel, a role model and mentor who set lofty standards for professionalism and officership that today’s AF dietitians continue to uphold and advance.  We are deeply indebted to Col Ballentine for her leadership and many contributions to the Air Force Medical Service.   

Chief, Biomedical Sciences Corps (BSC)                            April 1969 – January 1970

Deputy Chief, BSC                                                          July 1966 – March 1969

Chief, AF Medical Specialists, BSC                                    July 1965 – July 1966 (approximate)

Associate Chief for Dietetics/Nutrition                               July 1965 – March 1969

Colonel Frances G. Ballentine was born in Athol, Massachusetts on December 6, 1922.  A graduate of the Class of 1943 from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, she interned at the Cincinnati General Hospital and remained on staff there until she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army as a dietitian.  Her assignments with the Army included Douglas, Williams, Lackland and Sheppard Air Corps Hospitals.  She transferred to the Air Force in 1949 and was sent to Ohio State University in 1950 and earned an M.S. degree in Institution Management in 1951.

Her first assignment after graduating was at Scott AFB Hospital where she was appointed as Medical Food Service Officer as well as what we now know as MSA Officer.  AF directives for these positions had not yet been written so the newly promoted Captain developed procedures to cope with the situation.  It was time for innovation and change.

In 1953 she was transferred to the Surgeon General’s Office in Washington DC where she was privileged to help develop food service directives for the AF Medical Service.  One of her recommendations was accepted:  separating the MSA Office from that of Medical Food Service!

She directed medical food service programs in major USAF Medical Centers including those at Andrews AFB, MD; Wright-Patterson AFB, OH; and Tachikowa AB, Japan.  She served as Consultant Dietitian for the AF Logistics Command, representing the AF on the Army-Air Force Master Menu Board; Guest Lecturer, AF Diet Supervisors Course; Preceptor, AF Dietetic Residency; and Guest Lecturer, AF Dietitians and other medical symposia.

In 1965 she was assigned to the Office of the Surgeon General, HQ USAF Washington DC as Chief, Medical Specialists shortly after the BSC was created.  She was named Deputy Chief in 1966 as well as Associate Chief for Dietetics and Nutrition.  She developed and coordinated programs for the management of BSC personnel, operating procedures in the various biomedical sciences specialties, and analysis of cost data.  She planned and coordinated nutrition and dietetics programs for over 100 AF medical activities worldwide.  As senior author of Applied Clinical Nutrition, she directed the publication of the first Air Force Diet Manual.   

She is a member of the American Dietetic Association, and served on the ADA Journal Board and the Journal Policy Board.

Her awards include the Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Medal, and the Air Force Longevity Service Award.

After retirement she participated in the establishment of the Retired Air Force Dietitians Association (RAFDA) and served as Director for several terms.  She is the author of Recollections of WW II, a RAFDA publication.

Following retirement, Colonel Ballentine assumed leadership roles in dietetics at the local and state levels.  She was President of the Charleston Trident Dietetic Association.  She served as President, President-Elect, Treasurer, and Bylaws Committee Chair of the South Carolina Dietetic Association.  Her awards from the SCDA include the Commendation Award (4-time recipient), Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award, Meritorious Service Award, and the Distinguished Service Award.

Colonel Ballentine has established a Colonel Frances G. Ballentine scholarship with the American Dietetic Association Foundation to provide scholarships for advanced study in the field of dietetics.

Colonel Ballentine’s hobby in retirement is roses.  Her leadership roles in these organizations include President, Vice President, Director, and 50-year History Chair of the South Carolina Rose Society.  Honors include the American Rose Society’s Bronze Honor Medal, and four “Top Ten” Awards for the award-winning newsletter she has edited for the 10 years, the Charleston Rose

Colonel Ballentine is married to Colonel John Willson Ballentine, USAF, Retired. 

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