Wayne E. Meyer Rear Admiral, United States Navy

Wayne E. Meyer, father of Aegis, dies at 83
By Philip Ewing – Staff writer
Courtesy of Navy Times
Thursday September 3, 2009

Retired Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer, a technical innovator whose contributions to the air defense systems on today’s Navy surface combatants earned him the nickname “the father of Aegis,” died Tuesday at Washington Hospital Center, the Pentagon announced. He was 83.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen announces naming of DDG 108, USS Wayne E. Meyer. Cleared for Release by CNO PAOVice Admiral Wayne E. Meyer gives his remarks November 27, 2006, in Moorestown, New Jersey at a ceremony celebrating the deliverance of the 100th Aegis system to the Navy

Meyer headed the engineering team in the 1970s that developed the Aegis air defense system carried aboard today’s cruisers and destroyers, a combination of powerful radars, missiles and computers designed to defend U.S. carrier strike groups at sea. Aegis has since been upgraded to track and hit ballistic missile targets, and in 2008 the Aegis-equipped cruiser Lake Erie even destroyed a satellite in low orbit.

“I am deeply saddened by a great loss to our Navy family,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead said in a statement Tuesday. “Rear Admiral Meyer’s passion, technical acumen, and war-fighting 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 April 21, 1926, in Brunswick, Missouri, where he was educated in one- and two-room schoolhouses, and then a 140-student high school, before enlisting in the Navy Reserve in 1943. His first duty was to study engineering at the University of Kansas, where he was commissioned as a reserve ensign in 1946, and then went on to the surface fleet.

He returned to school in 1951, according to a Defense Department announcement, and attended the Joint Guided Missile School, Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Naval Line School, Monterey, California, and eventually served as an instructor at Special Weapons School, Norfolk, Virginia. Meyer would also go on to hold 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.

An enthusiastic missile and electrical engineer from the beginning of his Navy career, Meyer’s time in the service paralleled the surface fleet’s shift away from World War II-style heavy guns in favor of guided missiles. He was heavily involved with both the Navy’s Terrier and TALOS missile programs, which pre-dated Aegis.

The Cold War Navy in which Meyer grew up was built to fight major open-ocean battles with its Soviet arch-nemesis, and so it needed not only the ability to strike its opponents, but also defend against incoming aircraft and missiles.

In Aegis, Meyer and Navy engineers combined powerful new phased-array radars — the distinctive SPY-1 “oyster crackers” on the superstructures of today’s cruisers and destroyers — and air defense missiles with new computers to tie it all together. With Aegis, the Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers can find, track and shoot at hundreds of air and surface targets. Aegis also sails on Japanese, Korean and other international warships.

After rising to the rank of Rear Admiral and overseeing the Navy’s Aegis shipbuilding projects, Meyer retired in 1985 and began working as a consultant in Northern Virginia. Still, he remained a familiar presence in the surface fleet; he attended the commissioning of almost every Aegis warship.

In 2006, Navy Secretary Donald Winter announced the destroyer known as DDG 108 would carry the name “Wayne E. Meyer.”

Although Meyer was in poor health, he traveled to Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine, for the light-off of the destroyer’s Aegis system and its christening the next day, October 18, 2008. His wife, Ana Mae, smashed the traditional champagne bottle against the destroyer’s sonar bulb.

The Navy and shipyard officials had hoped Meyer would be able to attend the destroyer’s commissioning, scheduled for October 10, 2009, in Philadelphia.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer (April 21, 1926-September 1, 2009) is regarded as the “Father of Aegis” for his 13 years of service as the Aegis Weapon System Manager and later the founding project manager of the Aegis Shipbuilding Project Office. He retired from the United States Navy in 1985 as the Deputy Commander for Weapons and Combat Systems, Naval Sea Systems, Naval Sea Systems Command and Ordnance Officer of the Navy.

Admiral Meyer graduated from the University of Kansas in 1946 as a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He also holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Astronautics and Aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Wayne E. Meyer was born to Eugene and Nettie Meyer (now deceased) in Brunswick, Missouri, on 21 April 1926. His first four years of school were in Warden District School (eight grades in one room with a wood stove) under Helen Duncan. His father and family were livestock and grain farmers, plowing the land referred to by locals as the “gumbo”. Meyer's father Eugene was displaced in the drought and the Great Depression and lost everything in 1935. He and his family of four children moved eleven miles into clay country five miles North of Brunswick. Wayne and siblings were enrolled in St. Boniface Catholic School, a 2-room schoolhouse. Sister Mary Joann was his teacher for the next four years with grades five through eight combined in one room.

Enrolled in the 140-pupil Brunswick High School in 1939, his primary teacher (and principal) was Miss Edith Marston. Under her tutelage, he and three other boys had been prepared by her to take a three day Armed Services competitive exam in January 1943, which all passed. In April they were called to Kansas City to examine their physical fitness for enlistment in a competitive college program created by President Roosevelt, called the V-12 in the Navy. Meyer passed the exam.

He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 12 May 1943 after his parents signed the required papers, as he was only 17 at the time. Meyer graduated from high school on 23 May as president of his class and valedictorian. In June he was called to active duty as Seaman Apprentice, USNR, reporting to the University of Kansas on 1 July.

Meyer was enrolled in the University's Engineering School as his primary duty. He completed eight semesters towards his degree on 1 February 1946. Later that month the Navy ordered the remainder of that Naval Unit (only 35 out of approximately 500 originally) to be commissioned as Ensign United States Naval Reserve, and the University awarded him a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (with Communications and Pre-Radar option). After 11 months at M.I.T. in Radar/Sonar training (and an additional B.S. in Electrical Engineering with an Electronics option), he was ordered to radar picket destroyer Goodrich. He qualified for Officer of the Deck underway at the age of 20. Meyer subsequently served as part of the Occupation Forces in the Mediterranean along with service in the Greek Civil War. He was part of the force supporting the creation of Israel in 1948. He was also accepted for transfer to the regular Navy that year.

Over the next two decades he served in the occupation forces in Japanese and in Chinese waters. His ship, the light gun cruiser Springfield, was in the mouth of the Huangpu River when Chiang Kai Shek's Nationalist forces fell to Mao Zedong's Red Army in March 1949. Probably the last U.S. warship in China, his ship sailed for home only to head to Hunters Point, San Francisco shipyard for decommissioning. From 1951 through 1955, he attended the Joint Guided Missile School, Fort Bliss, Texas, the Naval Line School, Monterey, California, and served as instructor at the Special (atomic) Weapons School, Norfolk, Virginia. He returned to sea as Executive Officer on USS Strickland followed by service on the Staff, Commander, Destroyer Force, Atlantic.

Later, he returned to Monterey to study Ordnance Engineering, followed again by M.I.T for 12 months. Here he was awarded one of the early master's degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics. Then he was ordered to the guided-missile cruiser Galveston as Fire Control officer and subsequently Gunnery Officer for her conversion as the first TALOS Cruiser. He has fired, in exercises and tests, more TALOS missiles than any other person.

In 1963, Navy Secretary Fred Korth chose then-Commander Meyer to serve in the Navy Task Force for Surface Guided Missile Systems, commanded by RADM Eli T. Reich. His work at the Terrier Desk led to his appointment to lead the engineering effort to shift the 30 Terrier-armed ships from analog to high-speed digital systems. Turning down a destroyer command to continue this prelude to advanced weapons system design, he was appointed an Ordnance Engineering Duty Officer the same year he was selected Captain. He was 40 years old. In 1967, he reported as Director of Engineering at the Naval Ship Missile Systems Engineering Station, Port Hueneme, California (now known as Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division or NSWC PHD).

In 1970, he was recalled to Washington and reported to the Naval Ordnance Systems Command as Manager, Aegis Weapon System. The Aegis project was begun by the Navy as the Advanced Surface Missile System (ASMS). Following the cancellation of the Typhon project, the Navy began work on ASMS to arm the fleet against the advanced Soviet air threats expected in the 1960s and 1970s. After receiving seven concept proposals from arms makers, the Navy Secretary recalled retired Rear Adm. Frederic S. Withington (a former Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance) to active duty to recommend one for development.

Withington delivered a report to the Secretary on May 15, 1965, recommending a phased array S-Band radar to search and track air targets, six slaved X-band radars for illumination and fire control, a digital control system compatible with the Naval Tactical Data System, a standard missile that could be directed in flight, and a dual-rail launcher. The report also recommended choosing a prime contractor to develop the system and improving existing missiles.

In 1969, RCA was awarded a contract to begin development. Meyer arrived in 1970, a leader experienced in system development, familiar with current fleet problems, and savvy enough to deal with the Navy and DoD hierarchy to see the project through to completion.

He insisted upon rigorous system engineering discipline throughout the project, and spent considerable effort ensuring that all participants understood what the system was required to do, and what their role was. Key to specifying and measuring system performance was the development of the three functional cornerstones (Detect, Control, Engage) and the five operational cornerstones:

Meyer's philosophy of “Build a Little, Test a Little, Learn a Lot” drove the testing and milestones of the Aegis system. Having witnessed problems with existing missile systems related to a lack of testing, tests that incorporated too many objectives, and failed system integration efforts requiring massive “get well” programs, he drove the project to conduct numerous tests in development and in delivery of production gear prior to ship installation.

Meyer was also named Project Manager (the final one) for Surface Missile Systems in 1972, and in July 1974 he was named the first Director of Surface Warfare, in the new Naval Sea Systems Command. He was selected for Rear Admiral in January 1975 at age 49. In July, he became the founding Project Manager, Aegis Shipbuilding, with project code PMS-400.

The first Aegis-equipped ship, USS Ticonderoga, was not decided upon in a day. Throughout the project's development, the size and armament of the ship was the subject of vigorous debate within the Navy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Congress. The proposed ships ranged from a 5,000-ton “austere” ship promoted by Admiral Zumwalt to a nuclear strike cruiser displacing three times as much. The type of ship, cruiser or destroyer was also a subject of debate. The Aegis system was eventually installed on a modified version of the Spruance-class hull, the first of which was designated as DDG-47, and later changed to CG-47. The ship was appropriated in 1978, and shortly after construction began at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. CG-47 was commissioned on 22 January 1983, and a short nine months later fired guns at Lebanon. Meyer and the project team were proud that the ship was ready to fight so shortly after commissioning.

A second class of Aegis ship began with concept studies in 1978. The class was to replace the aging DDG-2 and DDG-37 class destroyers and handle the same air threats as the CG-47 class. The project responsibility originally lay outside of PMS 400, in another functional code in the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA 93). However, by May 1982, the project was put under Meyer's control in PMS 400, with a lead ship awarded 1985 to Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. Like the Ticonderoga, the ship was designed with an Aegis Combat System, modified for installation in the destroyer and less heavily armed. The ship was commissioned as USS Arleigh Burke on July 4, 1991.

In September 1983, Meyer was reassigned as Deputy Commander, Weapons and Combat Systems, Naval Sea Systems Command. He retired from active duty in 1985. In 1985 the American Society of Naval Engineers presented him with the Society’s Harold E. Saunders Award for lifetime contributions to naval engineering

Since the commissioning of USS Ticonderoga, Meyer has attended every commissioning of an Aegis ship. This includes 27 cruisers and 49 destroyers at the time of this writing (the entire DDG-51 class appropriated is 62 ships, the last of which is projected to commission in 2012).

Rear Admiral Meyer presently operates a consultancy with offices in Crystal City, Virginia. He chairs and serves on numerous panels and committees chartered by various United States Department of Defense civil and military officials, and has been especially involved with the Surface Navy and the Missile Defense Agency (formerly the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and Strategic Defense Initiative Organization) in developing ballistic missile defense capability for the nation's Aegis fleet of cruisers and destroyers.

Today Rear Admiral Meyer dwells in Falls Church, Virginia, with his wife Anna Mae, stepson Edward and two cats. His late wife Margaret was the sponsor, and his granddaughter Peggy was the Maid of Honor for the Aegis guided-missile cruiser Lake Erie. He has three adult children (Paula, James and Robert), 2 stepchildren (Anna and Edward) and four grandchildren.

Rear Admiral Meyer is one of a handful of persons to have a ship named in his honor while still alive. The Chief of Naval Operations announced on 27 November 2006 that USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) is named in his honor. She will be the 85th Aegis ship to be constructed and wield the 100th Aegis system to be delivered to the Navy. She was christened on October 18, 2008 at Bath Iron Works in Maine. Christening speakers included Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Maine Congressmen Tom Allen and Michael Michaud, Maine Governor Jim Balducci, Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley, Bath Iron Works president Dugan Shipway, and – of course – Rear Admiral Meyer. DDG 108 is to be commissioned October 10, 2009. The Aegis Shipbuilding project is scheduled to conclude with DDG-112, and is the longest continuous shipbuilding project in U.S. Navy history, with 27 cruisers and 62 destroyers authorized since 1978.

Admiral Meyer passed away on 1 September 2009 and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetary on 17 September 2009. The ship named in his honor will be commissioned October 10, 2009.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

October 08, 2009

Navy to Commission Guided Missile Destroyer Wayne E. Meyer

The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Wayne E. Meyer, during a 1 p.m. EDT ceremony on Saturday, October 10, 2009, at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Designated DDG 108, the new destroyer honors the late Navy Rear Admiral who led the development of Aegis, the first fully integrated combat system built to defend against air, surface and subsurface threats.  Meyer was regarded as the father of the Navy’s Aegis Weapons System.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will deliver the ceremony's principal address.  Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations and the first officer to have commanded both an Aegis cruiser and destroyer, will also deliver remarks.  Anna Mae Meyer will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her late husband.  The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

Wayne E. Meyer is the 58th of the Arleigh Burke class destroyers and carries the 100th Aegis Combat System built.  The ship will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Wayne E. Meyer will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower,” the maritime strategy that postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Commander Nick A. Sarap Jr., born in Richmond, Virginia, and raised in Zanesville, Ohio, will become the first Commanding Officer of the ship and lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel.  The 9,200-ton Wayne E. Meyer was built by Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics company.  The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/21/1926
  • DATE OF DEATH: 09/01/2009

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