Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Walter Thurman “Walt” Miesse, 89, of Virginia Beach, passed away Friday, June 14, 2019.
Born Nov. 4, 1929, in Blacklick, Ohio, he was the son of the late Chaslmer Thurman Miesse and Esther Maud Clapham Miesse. Cmdr. Miesse graduated from Lincoln High School in Gahanna, Ohio, valedictorian of the Class of 1947.
Cmdr. Miesse had a distinguished naval career, from his enlistment in Aug. 1948, as an aviation technician airman recruit serving for 34 years rising from seaman recruit to commander. His initial tours were as an aviation electronics technician in Patrol Squadron 40 (VP-40) NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Anti-Submarine Squadron 22 (VS-22) aboard a USS Mindoro (CVE-120) and USS Kula Gulf (CVE-108). He was designated a combat aircrewman in the Grumman Avenger Torpedo Bomber/Early Warning (TBM-3W) and Grumman Guardian Torpedo Bomber/Early Warning (AF-2W) aircraft and was advanced to AT2 and AT1 in Oct. 1950 and Oct. 1951 respectively. In 1953, Cmdr. Miesse was temporarily assigned to Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Memphis, Tennessee, completing AT “B” (Advanced Radar) school and returning to NAS Norfolk to teach APS-20 radar school.
In April 1955, Commander Miesse was selected for Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and was commissioned as an ensign, U.S. Navy, in September 1955. In October 1955, Cmdr. Miesse commenced naval aviator in February 1957. His first squadron tour as a pilot was with Anti-Submarine Squadron 27 (VS-27) home based in NAS Norfolk. He qualified as a landing signal officer (LSO) and was later designated an Air Group LSO making deployments aboard the USS Valley Forge (CV-45) LSS Lake Champlain (CV-39), USS Tarawa (CV-40) and USS Intrepid (CV-11), now berthed in New York City, New York, as part of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
Cmdr. Miesse served as the commanding officer of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW-121) “Bluetails,” weapons officer and air operations officer aboard the USS Forrestal (CV-59), staff officer for commander, Naval Forces Atlantic and Air Operations officer for NAS Norfolk. While in the Navy, Cmdr. Miesse got to take his mother on her first plane ride, after her initial apprehension, she totally enjoyed herself. “It’s fun,” she was heard to say. Cmdr. Miesse retired from the Navy in 1982.
He was preceded in death by his siblings, Esther Douglas, and her husband, Earnie, Julia Kidwell, and her husband, James, Howard Miesse, and his wife, Irene, and Emerson Miesse, and his wife, Jeanneta; and former wife, Jo Anne Barber Will Miesse, and her daughter, Cheryl Will.
He is survived, and will be greatly missed by his wife, Loretta Reese Miesse, who he married in 1993; sons, Greg Miesse, and his wife, Jeannie, and Eric Miesse; grandchildren, Tyler, Hayley, Peyton and Cody Miesse; stepchildren, Steven G. Reese and Jane R. Welch, and her husband, Charles; step-grandchildren, Katherine R. Welch and Charles E. Welch IV.
Every fall, the Miesse family and friends, both old and new, would gather to celebrate the harvest of the seas with a fish fry that he, his wife and family caught during the season. It was a big event, that was well attended. It was a lot of work, especially as Walt would cook all the fish until they were “cooked just right,” but Walt loved doing it. Lots of friendships were made at these events.
Cmdr. Miesse was a member of Haygood Methodist Church, where a service will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, June 19. Inurnment will be held at a later date in Gahanna, Ohio.
Share online condolences with the family at Rosewood-Kellum Funeral Home.