David Franklin Wherley, Jr.
Major General, United States Air Force
Ann C. Wherley
Air Force Spouse
Major General David Wherley, the recently-retired commander of the D.C. National Guard, died in Monday's accident.
Wherley's nephew, who lives in Castle Shannon, describes him as "that man who seemed to know something about everything"
The deadly commuter rail accident in Washington, D.C. on Monday that killed nine people and left dozens more injured also claimed the life of a prominent military leader with ties to our area.
Major General David Wherley, the recently-retired commander of the D.C. National Guard, and his wife Ann were among the nine people who died when their train collided with another near the Maryland border.
They were returning home from a visit to Walter Reed Army Hospital, where they had been training to become volunteers.
Ryan Astor of Castle Shannon, nephew of the victims, said that while the general had left active duty, he planned to continue his involvement with military causes.
"Just a career military man. Brilliant. He was always that man who seemed to know something about everything."
District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty remembered the General during a press conference yesterday.
"He was as fine a public servant, and as dedicated to the United States of America and everything that is great about this country than anyone I have ever met."
As for Mrs. Wherley, her nephew said she enjoyed her civilian involvement with her husband's endeavors.
"She accepted the role of a military wife and she embraced it and when you talked to her at holidays, she just raved at what Dave was doing and the military was doing."
Funeral arrangements are pending, but Mr. Astor says his uncle had previously requested burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
23 June 2009:
Retired Major General David Wherley, former commander of the D.C. Army and Air National Guard, and his wife Ann, were among the victims.
Wherley commanded the 113th Wing at Andrews Air Force Base. The couple lived in the Hill East neighborhood and the General could often be seen walking to and from the armory.
He joined the Army reserve as a Second Lieutenant in 1969. After a brief tour of active duty, he joined the D.C. Air Guard. According to his National Guard biography, he was Feputy Operations Group Commander for Fighters in Saudi Arabia. He had logged more than 5,000 hours of flying time and was a graduate of the Fighter Weapons Instructor Course for the F-4.
Wherley was the officer who scrambled fighters into Washington’s skies on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“Most of our members have lived in the D.C.
area for much of their lives,” Wherley said in an interview a few days
after the attacks. “To be patrolling and looking down on their homes, that
has been an emotional moment.”
The crash killed retired Major General David Wherley Jr., ex-leader of the D.C. National Guard, and his wife, Ann.
1 of 4 more photos » Retired Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr. and his wife, Ann, both 62, were killed along with seven others Monday in the most deadly train crash in the history of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
"He was as fine a public servant, as dedicated to the United States of America ... as anyone I have ever met," Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty told reporters Tuesday.
On the morning of the September 11 attacks, Wherley, Commander of the 113th Fighter Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, deployed pilots with orders from then-Vice President Dick Cheney to protect the White House and take out any aircraft that threatened the Capitol, according to the 9/11 Commission Report.
"They said challenge them, try to turn them away; if they don't turn away, use whatever force is necessary to keep them from hitting buildings downtown," Wherley told the Washington Post in a 2002 interview.
Wherley, a 40-year military veteran, served as the Commanding General of the D.C. Guard from 2003 to 2008.
"I am personally grieved by this unbelievable tragedy," said Major General Errol R. Schwartz who succeeded Wherley when he retired.
The Wherleys are survived by a son, David, a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army Golden Knights; a daughter, Betsy; and one grandchild, according to the National Guard.
The seven others killed in the collision were:
train operator Jeanice McMillan, 42, of Springfield, Virginia; Mary Doolittle,
59; Lavanda King, 23; Veronica Dubose, 26; Cameron Williams, 36; and Dennis
Hawkins, 64, all of Washington; and Ana Fernandez, 40, of Hyattsville,
Sources say two of the victims killed in Monday night's horrific Metro collision were husband and wife.
Major General David Wherley served 40 years in the military. The 62-year-old Air Force Commander spent his final days in the service as the top man at the D.C. National Guard.
Wherley hired Chief Master Sergeant Reginald Edwards for his first job at the National Guard. After learning of his former leader's death Tuesday night, Edwards lowered the flag at the armory to half staff.
"It was a very solemn moment -- something that I really wanted to do," said Edwards. "I'd been at work all day but I didn't want to leave without making sure that we did that properly -- so it was a very touching moment."
Wherley and his wife Ann were on their way back from Walter Reed Hospital where they were visiting a member of the D.C. National Guard who was wounded in Iraq. They were among the nine people killed when the two trains collided.
The D.C. National Guard's current Commander says Wherley felt an allegiance to his guardsmen even after he retired.
"He was the ultimate leader. He led by example, always wanted to do his best and encourage everyone [who] worked for him to do their best," said General Errol Schwartz of the D.C. National Guard.
After the Pentagon was hit on September 11, sources say it was Wherley who ordered F-16s to fly over the Capitol and guard its airspace.
Lieutenant Colonel Kevin McAndrews observed Wherley's leadership first hand during that tense day. "He was constantly thinking about, we were Andrews Air Force Base where Air Force One is and we are in the nation's capital -- that we were a target and what did we need to do to protect ourselves and to protect everybody in our city," he said.
Both Major GeneralWherley and his wife Ann
will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. A funeral date has not been
set at this time.
Major General David Wherley and his wife Ann are being remembered for their devotion to their country and their community.
The couple, both 62-years old, died in Monday's Metro train crash. At the D.C. National Guard Armory, where General Wherley served as the Commander of the DC National Guard, flags flew at half staff in memory of the crash victims.
General Wherley retired one year ago from his command post, where he was in charge of the DC National Guard's 3200 soldiers and airmen. Robert Brannum, who served under Wherley, calls him a true patriot.
"He was a tough commander. He had his... rulings and he made them," said Brannum. Although they didn't always agree he says he had great respect for the general and that the grew to work together on community issues.
General Wherley's wife, Ann, died alongside him. "He was with his wife, so they're gone together," Brannum said.
Wherley's impressive military career spanned nearly 40-years. He was a decorated fighter pilot, who flew F-16's and F-4's, and rose through the ranks to the top of the D.C. National Guard. But beneath his toughness was a soft spot for helping children. "One of the things that impressed me about General Wherley was his commitment to the youth in the city and continuing and expanding programs through the National Guard to help youth," said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson.
Mendelson, who chairs the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, says Wherley often appeared to testify on behalf of youth programs. Under his command, General Wherley was instrumental in the National Guard's Youth Challenge Program. "He was just a great leader in the city and good for the kids," said Mendelson.
During his life Wherley made his mark on the military and in the community he served. "He was passionate about young people and having programs and services for young people," Brannum added.
He was also dedicated husband and family man. "He loved his wife, Ann, that showed," said Brannum.
Release from the D.C. National Guard:
Major General David F. Wherley Jr., former Commanding General, wife, Ann, killed in Metro accident
Major General David F. Wherley Jr., and his wife, Ann, both 62, tragically died from injuries suffered in the Washington DC Metro Rail accident Monday, June 22, 2009. They leave behind a son, David, a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army Golden Knights, and daughter, Betsy. They had one grandchild.
"We are all deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss of General Wherley and his wife, Ann," said Major General Errol R. Schwartz, Commanding General of Joint Force Headquarters, District of Columbia National Guard. Wherley preceded Schwartz as Commanding General. "I am personally grieved by this unbelievable tragedy. David Wherley and Ann were two of the best people you could ever want to know. This community will grieve, as will the entire National Guard throughout the country who knew and loved them both."
General Wherley served as the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard from July 2003 to June 2008. As Commanding General, he was responsible for operational readiness and command and control of District of Columbia Army and Air National Guard units with an authorized strength of about 2,500 soldiers and airmen.
The general began his military career in 1969 when he received his commission as a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) from Fordham University, Bronx, New York. After he was released from active duty he joined the District of Columbia Air National Guard where he commanded two flying squadrons, served in a number of staff assignments and deployed as the deputy operations group commander for fighters at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia. He was a Fighter Weapons Instructor Course graduate in the F-4 and had more than 5,000 hours of flying time in a multitude of missions. Prior to appointment as Commanding General, he served as commander of the 113th Fighter Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, where he was responsible for two flying missions, the 121st Fighter Squadron with F-16 C/D and the 201st Airlift Squadron with C-40 and C-38A aircraft.
"I share in the huge grief of the entire 113th Wing," said Brigadier General Jeff Johnson, Commander, 113th Wing. "Dave and Ann were an integral part of the history of the 113th Wing, and more importantly, an integral part of our family. There are no words."
U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-Louisiana, said she had gotten to know General Wherley and Ann well over the years.
"As the recipient of more than a dozen medals and multiple honors, he served our nation with distinction," Senator Landrieu said. "General Wherley was not only the quintessential citizen soldier - he also made valuable contributions to our community. I worked closely with General Wherley to ensure the success of the National Guard's Youth Challenge Program, which has changed the lives of thousands of at-risk children in D.C. and around the country."
Senator Landrieu said General Wherley was a role model to young people in D.C., and he and his wife will be greatly missed in the community and throughout the country.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Wherley family," she said.
Under his leadership, the D.C. National Guard deployed several of its units, soldiers and airman in the Global War on Terrorism, including the 113th Wing and 275th Military Police Command. Their successful mobilization and safe return were always his top priority. It was his imperative that soldiers and airmen have the best training they could possibly receive before going into harm's way, and will remain as one of his most important legacies.
Time and again, General Wherley would say his most challenging accomplishment was the establishment of the D. C. National Guard's Youth Challenge program. This required coordination between the National Guard Bureau, the Department of Defense, Congress and the District of Columbia City Government, resulting in a program now in its third successful year. In addition, he strongly supported the Family Readiness Program, Youth Leaders Camp and the About Face Program, all of which focused on supporting the families of soldiers and airmen, especially during deployments, and strengthening the youth in the community through discipline, teaching them job skills and introducing the importance of education into their lives.
The Secretary of Labor appointed General Wherley to serve on an Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Corps in 2007. The Job Corps is the nation's largest and oldest federally funded job training and education program for at-risk youth ages 16-24. In the same year, he was a speaker at the Labor Department's annual Job Corps Leadership Summit, drawing attention to the many Job Corps participants and graduates who went on to successful military careers, some of whom have given their lives in the war in Iraq.
General Wherley was appointed to the Board of Directors of the District of Columbia Sports and Entertainment Commission in 2003 and served throughout his tenure as Commanding General. A baseball fan himself, he participated in the return of Major League Baseball to the District and was instrumental in the successful construction of Nationals Park, which was built on-time and within budget.
With many more achievements not mentioned here, General Wherley would say the most satisfaction he had was being able to make a difference, not only in the organization and the units he served in and commanded, but in the individual lives of soldiers and airmen he was able to mentor. He encouraged all of his officers and non-commissioned officers to read the book, Servant Leader, and he tried each day to live by that creed - to serve the people he was appointed to lead.
In approximately 600 B.C., the Chinese sage Lao Tzu wrote The Tao Te Ching, a strategic treatise on servant leadership:
The greatest leader forgets himself
Some will immortalize Major General David F. Wherley Jr. as the September 11, 2001, commander who mobilized fighter pilots to protect the skies above the nation's capital.
Former Davidsonville residents Major General David F. Wherley Jr. and his wife, Ann, died from injuries suffered in the Washington Metro Rail accident Monday.
Others will commemorate the highly decorated officer as the former leader of the District of Columbia National Guard.
But Deb Crnkovic will remember him as the neighbor who helped her husband take down overgrown trees.
"If he saw you doing anything in your yard, he always asked if you needed help," said Crnkovic, who lived across from Wherley and his wife, Ann, during their years in Davidsonville. "They were really kind and gentle people."
The Wherleys, both 62, were among the nine people killed Monday in the Washington Metro Rail collision near Fort Totten Station that sent more than 70 other people to the hospital.
The Wherleys lived on Eagle Passages Court off Spring Lakes Drive for more than 10 years in south county before moving to the nation's capital in 2003.
Steve Patten, who also lived on the same street as the Wherleys, said he remembers Ann walking the couples's blind dog, Barney, every morning.
"Ann just loved animals," said the Davidsonville resident. "I just recall them being the most delightful couple and just very nice folks."
Patten said David Wherley had given advice to his son, a second lieutenant currently serving in Iraq, before the young man's deployment.
"I remember David talking about the (National) Guard and it was so impressive," Patten said. "You felt really close to someone who was so dedicated to the military. During those times we needed those comforting words."
Retired Brigadier General Duane Lodrige of Annapolis had known Wherley since 1985 when both were fighter pilots in the 121st Tactical Fighter Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base. He came to know Ann, a mortgage broker, through various social functions, he said.
"They were very gracious, social hosts when he was a commander and any milestone Dave participated on my behalf, she was always at those events," he said. "She was just fabulous."
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Milord of Severna Park said the couple moved from the Davidsonville area to be closer to the Washington, D.C., division just prior to Wherley's promotion.
In his new position as commanding general, Wherley was responsible for 2,500 National Guard soldiers and airmen.
"He was very outgoing, very concerned and caring about everyone regardless of their rank," Milord said. "It wasn't unlike him to walk up and have a conversation with junior guardsmen just to talk and find out how things were going."
Wherley helped create educational programs for high school dropouts and at-risk children, including the establishment of the D.C. National Guard's Youth Challenge Program.
D.C. National Guard officials said the 40-year military veteran strongly encouraged strengthening local youth programs and supporting young adults by teaching them job skills and emphasizing the importance of education into their lives.
"The term officer and gentleman was certainly one that fit him exactly," Milord said.
In 1998, the general was a deputy operations group commander in Saudi Arabia. In an interview with The Capital, Wherley described himself as a big Orioles fan and recounted his experiences flying fighter planes over Iraq prior to the Second Persian Gulf War.
"The deployment was a great opportunity for me," Wherley said. "It's one of the best experiences I have ever had professionally."
After his three-month tenure at Prince Sultan Air Base, he assumed leadership of the 113th Wing at Andrews Air Force Base. During the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Wherley played a major role in marshaling aircraft over the nation's capital. Lodrige recalled the stoicism with which he directed fighter pilots into the Washington sky.
"During 9/11 he had to make a lot of decisions and just provided great leadership during that time," Lodrige said.
Wherley joined the military through the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Fordham University in New York, where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1969. Eight years later, he received a master's degree in business administration from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Wherley was awarded more than a dozen major medals and honors during his career, including a Legion of Merit and National Defense Service Medal.
With more than 5,000 hours logged in the air as a fighter weapons instructor course graduate, he retired from his post in June 2008.
Wherley and his wife will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, said Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kevin McAndrews, but the date and time have yet to be determined.
The couple is survived by their son David, a noncommissioned officer in the Army Golden Knights, and daughter, Betsy. They had one grandchild.
For information regarding services, visit the
National Guard Web site.
The former Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard and his wife, both killed in a deadly train collision in Washington, D.C., will be remembered at a service Monday.
The ceremony in memory of retired Air Force Major General David F. Wherley Jr. and his wife, Ann, begins at 6 p.m. Monday at the D.C. Armory.
The couple will be interred together at Arlington National Cemetery. That ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Wherley and his wife, both 62, died June 22, 2009, when the Washington Metro train in which they were riding slammed into the back of a stopped train. Seven other people were killed in the crash, the deadliest in Metro’s 33-year history.
The Wherleys, who were high school sweethearts, are survived by a son, Staff Sergeant David Wherley, 36, a member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team, and a daughter, Betsy Regan, 35, and her family.
Major General Wherley led the D.C. Guard from July 2003 to June 2008. As commanding general, he was responsible for operational readiness and command and control of the district’s Army and Air Guard units. On September 11, 2001, Wherley was commander of the 113th Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. As the attacks unfolded, Wherley secured instructions from the White House that gave his pilots discretion to shoot down any threatening aircraft in D.C. airspace, The Washington Post reported.
On the day they died, Wherley and his wife had just finished an orientation for the volunteer program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Ann and David Wherley Charitable Gift Fund, care of Lassus Wherley, 1 Academy St., New Providence, NewJersey 07974. Donors should include their name and address on their check.
*There will be a procession from the DC National Guard Armory (2001 East Capitol St SE, Washington DC 20003) departing no later than 10AM. Parking will be available in parking lots 3, 2, and 1 across the street from the Armory. Participants will be directed when to join the processional lineup.
WHERLEY, DAVID F JR
WHERLEY, ANN C
Posted: 24 June 2009 Updated: 25 June 2009 Updated: 26 June 2009 Updated: 4 July 2009 Updated: 23 August 2009