KU Engineering alumnus and retired Navy Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, regarded as the father of the Navy’s AEGIS Weapons System, passed away Monday, Sept. 1.
“I am deeply saddened by a great loss to our Navy family,” said Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations. “Rear Admiral Meyer’s passion, technical acumen, and warfighting expertise served as the foundation of our Navy combatant fleet today. On behalf of the men and women of the United States Navy, I extend my deepest and most heartfelt sympathy to the Meyer family. He was a close friend and mentor to so many of us. His legacy will remain in the Navy forever.”
Meyer was born in Brunswick, Mo., on April 21, 1926. In 1946, he graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He also held a master’s degree in astronautics and aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Meyer’s Navy career began in 1943 as an apprentice seaman. In 1946, he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was transferred to regular Navy in 1948. After several years at sea, he returned to school in 1951 and attended the Joint Guided Missile School, Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Naval Line School, Monterey, Calif., and eventually served as an instructor at Special Weapons School, Norfolk, Va.
Meyer returned to sea as executive officer on USS Strickland, followed by service on the commander’s staff, Destroyer Force Atlantic. He was then ordered to USS Galveston.
In 1963, Meyer was chosen to head the TERRIER desk in the Special Navy Task Force for Surface Missile Systems. He turned down a destroyer command to continue his work with missile, radar, and fire control systems, and became the founding Chief Engineer at the Naval Ship Missile System Engineering Station, Port Hueneme, Calif. In 1970, the Navy chose then Capt. Meyer to lead the development of the new AEGIS Weapon System in the Naval Ordnance Systems Command.
In this position, Meyer was promoted to rear admiral in Jan. 1975. In Jan. 1977, he assumed duties as the founding project manager of the AEGIS Shipbuilding Project. This project was ultimately responsible for the construction of all of the Navy’s current cruisers and destroyers – with 89 ships built or in construction, and more in planning. This is one of the longest and largest naval shipbuilding programs in history. He retired from active duty in 1985.
In Nov. 2006, the Secretary of the Navy announced that an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, DDG 108, would be named in honor of Rear Adm. Meyer. Christened on Oct. 18, 2008, the ship utilizes the same combat system that Meyer helped to develop, the Aegis Combat System, including the SPY-lD, multifunction phased array radar. This advanced system makes the AEGIS ship the foundation of the U.S. Navy’s surface combatant fleet. Additionally, when the ship is commissioned in Philadelphia, Pa. on Oct. 10, 2009, it will be manned with a complement of highly trained sailors, providing the Navy with a dynamic multi-mission warship that can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious ready groups, ensuring USS Wayne E. Meyer will lead the Navy into the future.
Rear Adm. Meyer’s personal decorations and service medals include: Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service Medal; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon with Bronze Star; China Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Medal with Bronze Star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation; and Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation.
His other awards include: American Society of Naval Engineers Gold Medal, 1976; Old Crow Electronics Countermeasure Association Silver Medal; Distinguished Engineering Service Award from the KU School of Engineering, 1981; Naval Ordnance Engineer Certificate #99; Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Missile Systems Award for distinguished service, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1983; Navy League’s Rear Admiral William Sterling Parsons Award, for scientific and technical progress in construction of the nation’s AEGIS fleet, 1985; Harold E. Sanders Award for a lifetime of contributions to Naval Engineering, American Society of Naval Engineers, 1985; Admiral J. H. Sides Award for major contributions to Anti-Air Warfare, National Security Industrial Association, 1988.
In 1977, Meyer was designated a Pioneer in the Navy’s Acquisition Hall of Fame in the Pentagon. In 2008, he was presented with the sixth annual Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Award.
-- Prepared and distributed by Department of Defense News.