Thaddeus Johnson Van Metre

Rear Admiral Thaddeus J. Van Metre, USN Retired, died Friday, June 6, 2003, at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

He was born May 2, 1907, in Anderson, Ind., to Thaddeus J., who died 17 days after his birth, and Sarah E. Van Metre.

Rear Admiral Van Metre was educated in the Indiana Public Schools, George Washington University, The U.S. Naval Academy and did postgraduate work at The Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He served on the cruiser Detroit, Battleship Pennsylvania and various other destroyers in the Atlantic and Pacific until 1937. He was married Nov. 20, 1938, to Madeliene M. McCormick in Philadelphia, Pa., while serving on the staff of Commandant 4th Naval District. He left immediately for a two-year tour of duty on the Asiatic Station on the coastal gunboat, USS Tulsa. He was evacuated from Hong Kong in December 1940 with his wife and 1-year-old son, Brian. He was ordered to precommission detail for the Battleship USS North Carolina at the Naval Yard in Brooklyn, N.Y., and received favorable impressions of the N.C. Governors Delegation to the commissioning of the battleship on April 9, 1941, influencing his decision to retire in 1960 in N.C. He served during the war on the USS North Carolina until October 1944 in various assignments, the last two years as Navigator. He received the Bronze Star with Combat Citation and commanded USS Hillary P. Jones and a destroyer squadron in the Pacific until war's end. His postwar duties included Naval Proving Ground in Dahlgren, Va., Command of the USS Kenebec transporting oil from the Persian Gulf to the Philippines, Japan, Alaska and the West Coast. His shore duties include the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, D.C., Senior Naval Officer as Chief of Military Assistance Group, Lisbon, Portugal, and the staff of CNO Washington, and Commander Service Squadron of 29 ships. He commanded The Naval Base at Norfolk, Va., and the U.S. Naval Station until he physically retired in November 1959. He accepted a position with the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and moved there in 1960. He was appointed by the governor to establish the N.C. Advancement School and by the mayor to chair the Citizens Advisory Committee on Community Development. He served on the boards of Centenary United Methodist Church, The Retired Officers Association and Rotary Club. After several surgeries he confined activities to golf and supporting his wife, who died in 1988, Madeliene's worked on the boards of the N.C. School of the Arts, the Winston-Salem Symphony, The Arts Council and the Ronald McDonald House.

Survivors include his son, Cmdr. R. Brian Van Metre, USN Retired; his four grandchildren, Mike Van Metre of Greensboro, Cmdr. Christopher R. Van Metre, USN, PCO USS Hartford, Kevin Van Metre and Michelle Pittelli of Cary and 8 great-grandchildren and granddogs.

He was a hero to all. In lieu of flowers please send contributions to The Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem or the Duke Children's Hospital and Health Center Oncology Center.

Published in the Winston-Salem Journal on 6/8/2003.

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