Wayne E. Caldwell – Vice Admiral, United States Coast Guard

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Wayne E. Caldwell, a local football star in the 1940s who earned distinction as a U.S. Coast Guard commander during the Vietnam War, passed away from a heart attack on February 15, 2009. He was 85.

Born in Springfield, Ohio, Caldwell graduated at the head of his class from Springfield High School in 1941 where he was recognized as an All Ohio football player. He went on to study engineering at Ohio State University on a football scholarship

He served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1942 to 1943 and in the Army Combat Engineers until 1944.

During World War, he entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he held the position of battalion commander for two years and received a degree in marine engineering in 1948.

As captain of the academy’s football team, he was offered a chance to play for the Detroit Lions, but decided instead to devote himself to military service.

He met his wife, Suzanne Jamison, while serving as a gunnery officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Barataria on station patrol duty in the Atlantic. They married on August 5, 1950.

During the Vietnam War, Caldwell commanded the Cutter Chase from September 1969 to July 1970, and was charged with monitoring portions of Vietnam’s 1,200 mile coast. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.

He earned a masters degree in international affairs from George Washington University in June 1972. On January 19, 1976, he was nominated for flag rank by President Gerald Ford. Following approval by the Senate, he was appointed to the rank of Rear Admiral.

In May 1982, he rose to the rank of Vice Admiral. He retired in July 1984 after 42 years of service.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, his daughter and son-in-law Suzanne and Joel Peterson of Woodbine; his son and daughter-in-law Jim and Barb Caldwell; his daughter and son-in-law Lisa and Tim Pinegar, and his eight grandchildren.

A memorial service in his honor will be held at Arlington National Cemetery followed by a burial service with full military honors.

Wayne E. Caldwell, 85, a retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral who was a football coach and later assistant superintendent at the Coast Guard Academy, died February 15, 2009 of a heart attack at his home in Ellicott City, Maryland.


Admiral Caldwell began his Coast Guard career as a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy, where, as captain of the football team, he was know as “the Plug” for his stalwart play as a lineman on both offense and defense. He also boxed and participated in track and field.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in marine engineering in 1948, he considered playing professional football for the Detroit Lions but decided to stay in the Coast Guard. His first tour of duty was as gunnery officer aboard the USCGC Barataria, which operated out of Portland, Maine, on shore patrol duty. In 1952, he returned to the academy, where he served as mathematics instructor, company tactics officer and assistant football and track coach.

His next tour of duty was in Alaskan waters as executive officer and then commanding officer of the buoy tender USCGC Hemlock. He later served in Long Beach, California, and Honolulu and earned the rank of Commander in 1965.

From 1969 to 1971, he commanded the USCGC Chase, based in Boston. The Chase was deployed to waters off the coast of Vietnam, and Admiral Caldwell was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service. He was cited for seven anti-filtration patrols and 35 naval gunfire support missions to aid allied ground forces. Under his command, the Chase carried out a number of humanitarian missions, including providing medical treatment to more than 1,000 Vietnamese civilians.

Admiral Caldwell was next assigned to the National War College at Fort McNair and received a master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1972. That same year he returned to the Coast Guard Academy, where he served as Assistant Superintendent. He also served as Commander of the 2nd Coast Guard District in St. Louis, as chief of marine environment and systems in Washington and as Commander of the Atlantic area and the 3rd Coast Guard District at Governor’s Island. He retired in 1984.

Wayne Eugene Caldwell was born in Springfield, Ohio, where he graduated at the top of his high school class and was recognized as an All-Ohio football player. He attended Ohio State University for a year before enlisting in the Army in 1942. He graduated from the Army’s Civil Engineering Special Training School at Kansas State University in 1944 and then embarked on his Coast Guard career.

In retirement, Admiral Caldwell indulged his lifelong passion for woodworking and made furniture for his family and toys for his grandchildren. He served as an elder at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. In 1983, he was inducted into the Coast Guard Academy’s Football Hall of Fame.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Suzanne Jamison Caldwell of Ellicott City; three children, Suzanne Peterson of Woodbine, Jim Caldwell of Mount Airy and Lisa Pinegar of Brookeville; and eight grandchildren.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/13/1923
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/15/2009

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