VICE ADMIRAL THOMAS R. WESCHLER, UNITED STATES NAVY
Thomas Robert Weschler was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on December 21, 1917, son of Charles Lee and Florence Marie (Illig) Weschler. He attended Cathedral Preparatory School for boys and Academy High School, and entered the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state on July 18, 1935. As Midshipman, he was Activities Editor of the "Lucky Bag"; member of the Editorial Board of the "Log"; Captain of the Third Battalion Ketch; member of the Ring Committee and Class Crest Committee; and participated in Battalion Football and Wrestling (star man for four years). He was also a member of the Foreign Languages Club and the Stamp Club at the Academy.
He was graduated with distinction on June 1, 1939 (seventh in a Class of 581 members) and awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, but was not commissioned in the U.S. Navy due to defective vision. He subsequently served for a year as Third Mate in the U.S. Merchant Marine (Tide Water Associated Oil Company); as Assistant Hull Inspector, Charleston Shipbuilding and Drydock Company; and returned to the Naval Academy prior to the outbreak of World War II as an Instructor in Thermodynamics. He was commissioned Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on December 13, 1940 and through subsequent promotions and his transfer from the Naval Reserve to the U.S. Navy on September 3, 1946, he attained the rank of Vice Admiral, to date from August 1, 1973.
After his commission in the Naval Reserve, and duty from January 9 to June 3, 1941 as an Instructor at the Naval Academy, he reported on board the USS WASP (CV-7). In that carrier he participated in the reinforcement of Malta, in the Mediterranean; and the Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings (including First Savo) and the capture and defense of Guadalcanal, in the Pacific Area. The WASP was a severely damaged by a Japanese submarine torpedo on September 15, 1942, near Eapiritu Santo, and was subsequently sunk by United States forces to prevent her from being captured. Rescued by the USS DUNCAN, he next was attached to Stinger Unit, Destroyer Base, San Diego, California, doing personnel work (administration) with the survivor group of the WASP. In January 1943 he was assigned to the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Kearney, New Jersey, where the USS SIGSBEE (DD-502) was building, and served as Gunnery Officer of that destroyer from her commissioning, January 23, 1943, until March 1945.
During that period he took part in the Pacific raids (Marcus and Tarawa); Gilbert Islands operation; occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls; Hollandia operation; capture and occupation of Guam; Morotai landing; Lingayen Gulf landings; Two Jima operation; and the Third and Fifth Fleet raids in support of the Okinawa Gunto operation. From March 16 until June 27, 1945, he served as Executive Officer of the USS YOUNG (DD-580), in which he participated in Mindanao landings (including Zamboanga, Malabang, Parang- Cotabato-Davano Gulf-Digos-Santa Cruz, and others).
On July 25, 1945, he returned to Annapolis for instruction in Ordnance Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School, and completed the course in September 1946 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he received the degree of Master of Science. During the next three months he was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. In January 1947, he joined the USS MACON (CA-132) as Gunnery Officer, and served in that capacity until February 1949, when he was ordered to the Staff of Commander Cruisers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, as Gunnery Officer and Assistant Training Officer. While serving as such, he assisted in refloating the USS MISSOURI. A student at the Naval War College; Newport, Rhode Island, during the next eleven months, he remained there for two years after graduation as a member of the Staff, in the Command and Staff Department (Ordnance Postgraduate billet). He assumed command of the USS CLARENCE K. BRONSON (DD-668) on July 19, 1953, operating in Korean waters, and after participating in action under the United Nations Command, was detached in May 1955, for duty as Aide to the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. In January 1958, he reported as Executive Officer of the USS CANBERRA (CAG-2), and in May 1959, became Bureau of Ordnance Technical Liaison Officer, Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, later redesignated Bureau of Naval Weapons Special Projects office, Pittsfield. For his participation in the development of the Polaris system, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.
In July 1960 he transferred to the Special Projects office, Bureau of Naval Weapons, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., remaining there until August 1962 when he joined the 1963 Class at the National War College, Washington, D.C. On graduation, he took command of USS MONTROSE (APA-212) at San Francisco, in July 1963. In May 1964, he reported as Assistant Chief of Staff, (Plane) on the Staff of Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific, and in September 1965, assumed command of Amphibious Squadron Three. "For exceptionally meritorious service from October 15, 1965 to January 5, 1966, as Commander Amphibious Ready Group, U.S. SEVENTH Fleet, while deployed as a unit of the United States SEVENTH Fleet Amphibious Force..." he was awarded the Legion of Merit. During that Assignment, he was responsible for the planning, embarkation, movement and execution of a series of two amphibious raids against Viet Cong Forces.
In February 1966, he became Commander Naval Support Activity, Danang Republic of Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He was cited, in part, as follows; "(His) superb leadership, far-sighted planning and skillful control provided the vital catalyst to weld the procurement and operation of craft and equipment, and the efforts of men, into a dynamic, versatile and responsive organization that met the ever-increasing and changing support requirements of the combat forces aiding the Republic of Vietnam in its struggle for freedom and self determination..." He is also entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Navy Unit Commendation awarded the United States Naval Support Activity, Danang, Republic of Vietnam.
In March 1967, he reported as Program Coordinator for the DX/DXG (destroyer and missile destroyer ) Program, office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. The program subsequently was designated the New Construction Destroyer Program and expanded to include the new nuclear frigates (DLGN 38 Class) as well as the DD 963 class destroyers and the associated missile ships. In May 1968 he also assumed the duties of Director, Ship Characteristics Division and Chairman, Ship Characteristics Board in addition to his Program coordinator duties. He was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit " for exceptionally meritorious service from March 1967 to May 1970. During this period, Rear Admiral Weschler directed the planning; development and contract definition of a large-scale program to provide new destroyers and nuclear-powered guided missile frigates for the 'Fleet of the Seventies' and beyond..." In May 1970 he assumed command of Cruiser Destroyer "Flotilla Two and "for exceptionally meritorious conduct...from May 1970 to June 1971..." was awarded a Gold star in lieu of the third Legion of Merit.
In July 1971 he reported as Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet with additional duty from November of that year as Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Two and "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service..." in that capacity was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Fourth Legion of merit. The citation continues in part; "Rear Admiral Weschler exercised dynamic leadership and managerial ability in maintaining a major force at maximum readiness and in accomplishing the mission of his vital command. Under his capable direction, worldwide commitments were met and significant improvement in the field of management, maintenance, training, and logistic support were realized. He developed effective advanced tactical doctrine and promoted the development of new weapons systems to enhance the readiness of ships in current and future missions..."
In August 1973 he became Director J-4, The Joint Staff, office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. In addition to the Distinguished Service medal, the Legion of merit with three Gold Stars, the Commendation Medal and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon; Vice Admiral Weschler has the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet clasp; the American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern campaign Medal with two operation stars; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with seven stars; the World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Services Medal, Asia Clasp; National Defense service Medal with bronze star; Korean Service Medal; United Nations Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with two stars; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars. He was also awarded the Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the National Order of merit, Fifth Class by the Republic of Vietnam; the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device and the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation Badge.
Vice Admiral Weschler is married to the former Katrina Quinn of Erie, Pennsylvania and they have two children, Kathryn Marie and Thomas Richard Weschler. Their official residence is in Erie, Pennsylvania. Vice Admiral Weschler's brother, Lieutenant Charles John Weschler, USN, also an honor graduate of the Naval Academy (Class of 1932), died while a Japanese prisoner-of-war after the capture of the Philippines. Vice Admiral Weschler is a member of the Army and Navy Country Club, Arlington, Virginia, the U.S. Naval Institute, the American Ordnance Association, and the National Defense Transportation Association. Navy Office of Information Biographies Branch (0I-0111 23 October 1973.)