He was born May 2, 1907, in Anderson, Ind., to Thaddeus J., who died 17 days after his birth, and Sarah E. Van Metre.
Rear Admiral Van Metre was educated in the Indiana Public Schools, George Washington University, The U.S. Naval Academy and did postgraduate work at The Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He served on the cruiser Detroit, Battleship Pennsylvania and various other destroyers in the Atlantic and Pacific until 1937. He was married Nov. 20, 1938, to Madeliene M. McCormick in Philadelphia, Pa., while serving on the staff of Commandant 4th Naval District. He left immediately for a two-year tour of duty on the Asiatic Station on the coastal gunboat, USS Tulsa. He was evacuated from Hong Kong in December 1940 with his wife and 1-year-old son, Brian. He was ordered to precommission detail for the Battleship USS North Carolina at the Naval Yard in Brooklyn, N.Y., and received favorable impressions of the N.C. Governors Delegation to the commissioning of the battleship on April 9, 1941, influencing his decision to retire in 1960 in N.C. He served during the war on the USS North Carolina until October 1944 in various assignments, the last two years as Navigator. He received the Bronze Star with Combat Citation and commanded USS Hillary P. Jones and a destroyer squadron in the Pacific until war's end. His postwar duties included Naval Proving Ground in Dahlgren, Va., Command of the USS Kenebec transporting oil from the Persian Gulf to the Philippines, Japan, Alaska and the West Coast. His shore duties include the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, D.C., Senior Naval Officer as Chief of Military Assistance Group, Lisbon, Portugal, and the staff of CNO Washington, and Commander Service Squadron of 29 ships. He commanded The Naval Base at Norfolk, Va., and the U.S. Naval Station until he physically retired in November 1959. He accepted a position with the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and moved there in 1960. He was appointed by the governor to establish the N.C. Advancement School and by the mayor to chair the Citizens Advisory Committee on Community Development. He served on the boards of Centenary United Methodist Church, The Retired Officers Association and Rotary Club.
Rear Admiral Thaddeus J. Van Metre, USN Retired, died Friday, June 6, 2003, at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
Thaddeus Van Metre receives Bronze Star with Combat Citation:
Capt. T. J. Metre, USN, Awarded the Bronze Star (then LCdr) for "meritorious service in connection with operations against the enemy as navigator of the USS North Carolina from May 27 to Oct. 3, 1944, in the Pacific areas in action against repeated day and night attacks by enemy aircraft."
Chain of Command His shore duties include the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, D.C., Senior Naval Officer as Chief of Military Assistance Group, Lisbon, Portugal, and the staff of CNO Washington, and Commander Service Squadron of 29 ships. He commanded The Naval Base at Norfolk, Va., and the U.S. Naval Station until he physically retired in November 1959.
Other Memories Known officially as Naval Operating Base until 31 December 1952, on January 1, 1953 the name of the installation was changed to Naval Station Norfolk.
After the Second World War, the air side of the station continued to operate at near peak levels as well. It served as operational headquarters for the Fleet Air Command, and with the emergence of NAS Oceana as a master jet base in the late 1950s, the tandem formed the nucleus of the biggest air base on the East Coast. The airfield was renamed as Naval Air Station Norfolk (Chambers Field) and would remain so throughout the postwar period through the end of the Cold War. In 1967 it came under the control of Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic (COMNAVAIRLANT).