John Birdsell Oren, Rear Admiral, United States Coast Guard, died in Harrisonburg on December 22, 2006, at the home of his caregiver, Vaunda Brown. A former resident of northern Virginia, he moved to Harrisonburg in August 2004. He was born in Madison, Wisconsin, on December 27, 1909, a son of Lucile Comfort and Arthur Baker Oren.
Joining in the Navy in January 1928, a year and a half later John Oren applied to and was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Following his plebe year, he transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, graduating in the class of 1933. His career as a Coast Guard officer included completion of a master’s degree in marine engineering at MIT and distinguished service in North Atlantic convoy duty and in the Pacific during World War II. He was a recipient of the Legion of Merit.
Following the war, his administrative career included oversight of lighthouses, shipyards, harbor facilities, and construction of new ships and equipment, command of the CG cutter Ingham for weather and rescue operations in the North Atlantic, setting up the Loran (long range aid to navigation) system for ships at sea, command of the Coast Guard’s field testing and engineering facility, tours of duty as chief engineer for several Coast Guard districts, and finally. Chief of Engineering for the Coast Guard.
Admiral Oren retired from the Coast Guard in 1967 and subsequently served for six years as executive director of the Maritime Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. He and his wife, Virginia Prentis Oren (deceased March 2002) were married for 68 years and made their retirement home in northern Virginia just outside Washington, D.C.
Admiral Oren is survived by a daughter, Joan Oren Strickler and her husband, Warren, of Harrisonburg; a son, John Edward Oren and his wife, Dianne, of Winston-Salem, N.C.; five granddaughters, Robin Strickler of Rwanda, East Africa, Alison Strickler of Chicago, Ill., Laura Strickler of Washington, D.C., Sydney McLure Carr of Ashburn, Va., Tara Oren of Winston-Salem; a stepgranddaughter, Crystal Langford of Winston-Salem; and a great-granddaughter, Adeline Grace Carr.
A service in celebration of the life of John Oren will be held at 11 o’clock on Saturday, Jan. 6, at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg. His ashes will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in a private ceremony at a later date.
Memorial donations may be made to the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation, c/o U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT, to Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, or to a charity of choice.
John Birdsell Oren, 96, a retired Coast Guard Rear Admiral who was Chief of Engineering, died of pneumonia December 22, 2006, at his caregiver's home in Harrisonburg, Virignia. He was a former resident of McLean, Virginia.
He was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and was a 1933 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where he was captain of the cross country and swimming teams. He received a master's degree in marine engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1942.
Early in his Coast Guard career, he assisted in the search for missing aviator Amelia Earhart.
During World War II, his assignments included North Atlantic convoy duty during the Nazi U-boat campaign against Allied merchant shipping and service in the Pacific. After the war, he had oversight of lighthouses, shipyards, harbor facilities, and construction of new ships and equipment.
He also commanded the Coast Guard cutter Ingham for weather and rescue operations in the North Atlantic; set up the Loran (long range aid to navigation) system for ships at sea; and supervised the Coast Guard's field testing and development facility. He had tours of duty as chief engineer for several Coast Guard districts before retiring as chief of engineering at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington in 1968. His awards included the Legion of Merit.
After retiring, Adm. Oren served for six years as executive director of the Maritime Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences.
He was active in several engineering societies and served as president of the Society of Military Engineers and the American Society of Naval Engineers.
For 25 years, he belonged to a Spanish conversation class offered by the Arlington school system. He traveled extensively to Spain and Central and South America.
A life-long Episcopalian, he attended chapel at Vinson Hall retirement community, where he lived until two years ago.
His wife of 68 years, Virginia Prentis Oren, died in 2002.
Survivors include two children, Joan Oren Strickler of Harrisonburg and John Edward Oren of Winston-Salem, N.C.; six granddaughters; and two great-grandchildren.
OREN, VIRGINA PRENTIS
DATE OF BIRTH: 10/28/1914
DATE OF DEATH: 03/07/2002
BURIED AT: SECTION 5-N ROW 13 SITE 6
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
WIFE OF OREN, JOHN BIRDSELL, RADM US COAST GUARD
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
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