Thaddeus Johnson Van Metre
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.
in the Winston-Salem Journal on 6/8/2003.