Col. (Ret.) Robert L. Henderson, M.D. was born the son of a printer and a Sunday school teacher in Palmerdale, AL in June of 1937. His formative years taught him to persevere regardless of the obstacles set before him. His father served in the Navy during WWII, leaving Dr. Henderson to spend his time with his grandfather who was a candymaker. Dr. Henderson’s great-grandfather had been a Civil War physician and he knew from a very young age that he would take the path to medicine.
In 1959, he married Sylvia Herrmann of Birmingham, AL. They are celebrating 59 years of marriage and have three daughters, Parrie, Pamela, and Patricia, as well as six grand-children.
Dr. Henderson graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in 1962, and volunteered for the US Army where he was assigned an internship at Tripler US Army Hospital in Hawaii. During his time there he joined the Special Forces as a physician and was sent to Ft. Benning, GA for airborne/jump school training. Over the next three years, he would be deployed to active duty service as a combat physician in Vietnam and relocated to Ft. Bragg, NC.
Dr. Henderson entered residency training at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX after his deployment. Following his 3-year stint in Texas he was moved to Wuerzburg, Germany having completed his residency training. While he was stationed in Germany, he served as one of only three Otolaryngologists. He also joined and performed with an Officers Club musical act. This act allowed him to see and interact with not only his fellow military members but with the German populous.
During his Germany assignment, Dr. Henderson was hand selected by Major General Walker to be the Division Surgeon for the 3rd Infantry Division. He was selected to be the Chief of ENT Services at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, CA after completing his stay in Europe. After only a year of service at Letterman Army Hospital, he was appointed by the United States Surgeon General to be the Chief of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery Services and Director of Residency Training Program for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In this capacity, Dr. Henderson oversaw the training of 28 physicians and qualified them for their board examination. He also acted as special consult to the United States Surgeon General for ENT Surgery and Audiology. Dr. Henderson established the Walter P. Straight Memorial Conference, which was the first Otolaryngology conference to be held in Washington, DC while serving as Chief Otolaryngologist at Walter Reed.
After a 20-year military career and achieving the rank of Full Colonel, he retired from the United States Army in 1982. Throughout his career, Dr. Henderson received many prestigious honors including: Senior Parachutist Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Vietnamese Parachutist Wings, Vietnam Defense Ribbon, Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, German Marksmanship Medal in Silver, German Sport-Military Medal in Bronze, National Defense Ribbon, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal, and Legion of Merit.
Dr. Henderson owns property in Alabama but he and his family had never lived anywhere for longer than seven years other than Maryland, which is where they choose to reside. He established a private practice in Otolaryngology in both Howard County and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The Eastern Shore was a financially depressed and underserved area and he quickly found himself one of only three ENT surgeons in that region. Accepting all forms of insurance and seeing patients without coverage, he remained in practice in the area for almost 30 years, closing his office there only after the hospital he worked out of closed due to financial concerns. Dr. Henderson is a member of the Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and a former member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology Allergy and Environmental Medicine.
Dr. Henderson turned 81 this past June. He has discontinued surgical procedures but remains in practice 1 full day and 4 half days a week in the Howard County region.