John A. Feagin, Jr., MD, FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

John A. Feagin, Jr., MD, FAOA is being honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession for his orthopaedic military career and significant contributions to sports medicine, leadership in medicine, mentoring and teaching, and his strong influence on the understanding and treatment of knee injuries. The champions for this effort on behalf of Dr. Feagin are Robert A. Arciero, MD, FAOA, Jonathan F. Dickens, MD, FAOA, James R. Ficke, MD, FAOA, and Christopher D. Harner, MD, FAOA.


Dr. John Autrey Feagin, Jr. was a 1955 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following two years as an Army artillery officer, he was offered admission to the Duke University School of Medicine by Dean Wilburt Davison. He was the first West Point graduate to attend medical school while on active duty.

Following graduation from Duke in 1961, Dr. Feagin completed a surgery internship at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, followed by an orthopaedic surgery residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He served as an orthopaedic surgeon in Vietnam 1966-67 with the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon.

Dr. Feagin returned to West Point and served as an orthopaedic surgeon at Keller Army Hospital and team physician for the Army athletic teams from 1967-72. He then completed a fellowship in hip replacement surgery in England with Sir John Charnley at Wrightington Hospital. Following his fellowship, Dr. Feagin was assigned to the orthopaedic teaching staff at Letterman Army Medical Center from 1973 to 1978. He retired from the Army as a Colonel in 1979 after a final assignment at West Point as the Commander of Keller Army Hospital.

Dr. Feagin practiced orthopaedic surgery in Jackson, WY from 1979 to 1989.  During this time he also served as team physician for U.S. Olympic teams and the U.S. Ski Team. He returned to Duke in 1989 as Associate Professor of Surgery and team physician for Duke Athletics. Notably, Dr. Feagin reunited with Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who had been a basketball player at West Point when Dr. Feagin was team physician. He retired from clinical practice in 1999 and remained on the Duke faculty as Associate Professor Emeritus of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Feagin was a leader locally, nationally and internationally. In addition to his military service, he was president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM); with Professor Werner Mueller, he founded and was a Godfather for the AOSSM Sports Medicine Traveling Fellowship Program; and he was a member of the United States Military Academy Board of Trustees.  His contributions were recognized through numerous awards including the United States Military Academy’s Distinguished Graduate Award, and induction into the Army Sports Hall of Fame and the AOSSM Hall of Fame. He humbly influenced an entire generation of orthopaedic surgeons worldwide in ways that transformed the understanding and treatment of knee injuries. He was a founding member of both the Anterior Cruciate Ligament Study Group and the International Knee Documentation Committee. His book, The Crucial Ligaments, remains the standard text on ligamentous injuries of the knee.

In retirement, Dr. Feagin continued to do what he loved – fly and teach. His solo transatlantic flight in his four-seat, single-engine Cessna 172 was topped only by his successful solo transatlantic return in the same plane. His lifelong love of teaching continued as he volunteered his time to instruct and enrich the lives of medical students, residents, fellows and faculty at Duke, West Point, and the Steadman Clinic in Vail, CO, where he lived until returning to Jackson Hole in 2015.

In 2009, the Feagin Leadership Program was established at Duke University to honor and build on Dr. Feagin’s legacy of leadership in medicine. The Program prepares and inspires young medical professionals for their leadership challenges in healthcare and in life. To many, the Feagin Leaderhip Program is the culmination of Dr. Feagin’s professional life work, tying together leadership, education, collaboration, patient care and ethical values. While he served as the inspiration for the Program created to honor him, he also was its biggest supporter. He remained active mentoring the Feagin Scholars throughout the last ten years of his life.

Of all his contributions, Dr. Feagin’s greatest were to those he mentored. He made every new acquaintance an immediate friend, and his love and generosity led to countless friendships throughout the world.  He was an exemplar of patient-centered, selfless leadership and his legacy lives on through the thousands of people he influenced for the better throughout his life.

The AOA gratefully acknowledges Dr. Feagin’s lasting legacy and influential contributions to the orthopaedic profession and proudly recognizes him as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.


“Doctor John Feagin was an accomplished West Point Graduate and military officer; a superlative surgeon and lifelong student of sports medicine. He was also a serving leader and mentor to countless human beings both in and out of Orthopaedic Surgery. He embodied and taught these qualities his entire life. John possessed an uncanny art of discerning what each of us held dear and then passionately embraced those things with us. He did this for military service, for sports medicine, for leaders, and even for rock climbing! He will always be remembered and loved as a pillar of energy, integrity and curiosity.”

– James R. Ficke, MD, FAOA
Dr. Feagin’s  Co-Champion


“Dr. Feagin was the epitome of the word “mentor”, influencing several generations of orthopaedists, especially those in the military, with the qualities of selfless giving, patient-centered care, and professional camaraderie. Being a founding member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Study Group, and initiating the AOSSM Traveling Fellowship, he had the unique ability to inspire his colleagues to regularly gather, exchange and investigate the science of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine for the purpose of enhancing patient outcomes. His vision for collegial, scientific exchange had no borders worldwide.”

– Robert A. Arciero, MD, FAOA
Dr. Feagin’s  Co-Champion


“Dr. Feagin’s immense impact on all of us who were blessed to know him cannot be overstated.  He made the entire orthopaedic community his family and was watching out for us, whether we knew it or not. He said, “God gave us two hands, one to reach up and one to reach down and bring someone with you.” Thanks for bringing us along Dr. Feagin.” 

– Jonathan F. Dickens, MD, FAOA
Dr. Feagin’s  Co-Champion


“John Feagin, MD, FAOA (1986) possessed all of the qualities of an exceptional leader. His military background, education, and charismatic personality combined to create a unique leadership style that benefitted all those with whom he came into contact. In our subspecialty of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, Dr Feagin`s leadership was fundamental in moving us from its infancy in the 1970`s to where it is now. Perhaps his greatest contribution, however, was the mentorship and guidance he provided to thousands of residents, fellows, faculty and colleagues over the course of his career. I will always remember John Feagin as a soldier, an exemplar of leadership, a teacher, and a great friend.”

– Christopher D. Harner, MD, FAOA
Dr. Feagin’s  Co-Champion


“We, the thousands of Feagin mentees, could not have had a better mentor than John Feagin. He inspired us to be selfless and accomplish for others more than we could have ever imagined of ourselves. He inspired us to influence others to realize a better world for all. He inspired us to strive to be moral and ethical leaders of integrity in line with his leadership mantra, “Do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons.” May we all live to this mantra as we address the leadership challenges we face, today and for generations to come.”

– Dean C. Taylor, MD, FAOA

For a list of those who contributed to this Pillar honor, please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion for an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession, you can find more information here.

Entire listing of AOA Pillars of the Orthopaedic Profession can be found here.