Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pentagon: General, Wife Among Metro Train Casualties

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2009 -- A former commander of the District of Columbia National Guard and his wife were among the nine people killed in the June 22 collision of two Metro subway trains here, officials announced yesterday.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr. and his wife, Ann, both 62, died in the accident. Wherley retired a year ago after leading the D.C. Guard for five years.

"We are all deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss of General Wherley and his wife, Ann," said Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters, District of Columbia National Guard, who succeeded Wherley in the position. "I am personally grieved by this unbelievable tragedy. David Wherley and Ann were two of the best people you could ever want to know. This community will grieve, as will the entire National Guard throughout the country who knew and loved them both."

Wherley began his military career in 1969, when he received his commission as a second lieutenant through the ROTC program at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. After he was released from active duty, he joined the District of Columbia Air National Guard, where he commanded two flying squadrons, served in a number of staff assignments and deployed as the deputy operations group commander for fighters at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia.

He was a Fighter Weapons Instructor Course graduate in the F-4 Phantom and had more than 5,000 hours of flying time in a multitude of missions.

Prior to appointment as commander of the D.C. Guard, he served as commander of the 113th Fighter Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., where he was responsible for two flying missions: the F-16 mission of the 121st Fighter Squadron and the 201st Airlift Squadron, with C-40 and C-38A aircraft.

"I share in the huge grief of the entire 113th Wing," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeff Johnson, commander of the 113th Wing. "Dave and Ann were an integral part of the history of the 113th Wing, and more importantly, an integral part of our family. There are no words."

U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana said she had come to know the Wherleys well over the years.

"As the recipient of more than a dozen medals and multiple honors, he served our nation with distinction," the senator said. "General Wherley was not only the quintessential citizen soldier, [but] also made valuable contributions to our community. I worked closely with General Wherley to ensure the success of the National Guard's Youth Challenge Program, which has changed the lives of thousands of at-risk children in D.C. and around the country."

Landrieu said Wherley was a role model to young people in the district, and that he and his wife will be greatly missed in the community and throughout the country.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Wherley family," she said.

Under Wherley’s leadership, the D.C. Guard deployed several of its units, soldiers and airman in the global war on terrorism, including the 113th Wing and 275th Military Police Command. Their successful mobilization and safe return always were his top priority, officials said, and it was his imperative that soldiers and airmen have the best training they could possibly receive before going into harm's way.

Wherley frequently said his most challenging accomplishment was the establishment of the D.C. National Guard's Youth Challenge program. This required coordination among the National Guard Bureau, the Defense Department, Congress and the District of Columbia government, resulting in a program now in its third successful year.

In addition, he strongly supported the Family Readiness Program, Youth Leaders Camp and the About Face Program, all of which focused on supporting the families of soldiers and airmen, especially during deployments, and strengthening community youth through discipline, teaching them job skills and the importance of education.

The secretary of labor appointed Wherley to serve on an advisory committee for the Job Corps in 2007. The Job Corps is the nation's largest and oldest federally funded job training and education program for at-risk youth ages 16 to 24. He was appointed to the board of directors of the District of Columbia Sports and Entertainment Commission in 2003, and served throughout his tenure as commanding general. A baseball fan himself, he participated in the return of major league baseball to the district, and was instrumental in the successful construction of Nationals Park, which was built on time and within budget.

The Wherleys are survived by a son, David, who is a noncommissioned officer in the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team, and daughter, Betsy. They had one grandchild.

Funeral arrangements, when complete, will be posted on the D.C. Guard’s Web site.

(From a District of Columbia National Guard news release.)

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