Wayne Eugen Caldwell was born on 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.
Admiral Calwell began his Coast Guard career as a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy, where, as captain of the football team, he was known 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. I:n 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.
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.
We honor you, Wayne Caldwell.
(#Repost @Arlington National Cemetery)