Woodrow “Woody” Wilson Wert, TMC(SS) USN (Ret) died June 8, 2008, at the
Veterans Home of California at Yountville. He was born April 24, 1916 in San
Mateo, CA, He enlisted in the US Navy in October 3, 1938, being inducted and
entering boot camp at the US Naval Training Center, San Diego, CA.
Following boot camp, Chief Wert served on the minelayer, USS Preble,
until June, 1940, when he was accepted to the Submarine Training School at New
London, CT. He graduated in January, 1941, having qualified on the USS Bass
(SS-164). He served briefly on the USS Barracuda (SS-163) and
obtained the rate of Torpedoman 3rd class (TM3). In September, 1941, he was
transferred to the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, RI, for advanced torpedo
training. On December 10, 1941, his training was completed, and in January,
1942, Chief Wert was assigned to the USS Greenling (SS-213).
made one war patrol aboard the Greenling, during which he earned the rate
of TM2 and for which he was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation ribbon. In
August, 1942, he was transferred to Manitowoc, WI, to become a member of the
original crew of the USS Peto (SS-265), the first of the “freshwater
submarines”. He made three war patrols aboard the Peto. During the
second war patrol, Chief Wert was in charge of the forward torpedo room, still
only having the rate of TM2. Prior to the third war patrol, he was advanced to
February 29, 1944, Chief Wert became a member of the original crew of the,
USS Cavalla (SS-244), aboard which he made six war patrols. The
Cavalla’s very first war patrol (June 1944) was the most notable:
they supplied vital information regarding the movement of a Japanese task force
that led to the spectacular American victory during the Battle of the Philippine
Sea; and, they sank the Japanese carrier, Shōkaku, which had been
involved in the attack on Pear Harbor. The crew of the Cavalla
consequently received a Presidential Unit Citation. In addition, He received a
Letter of Commendation ribbon for his “excellent service as Torpedoman in charge
of forward torpedo room” during the action. Also during his service aboard the
Cavalla, he was promoted to Chief Torpedoman (TMC). Chief Wert was
present on the Cavalla in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, when the formal
documents of surrender were signed, ending World War II. Sadly, he was also
present for Cavalla’s decommissioning ceremony.
Chief Wert’s Woody’s post-war service included:
Dace (SS-247; 03/46–02/47)
USS Sea Leopard (SS-483; 12/47–01/48)
USS Sea Leopard (SS-483; 01/48–09/49)
During this period, Chief Wert was stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard
awaiting completion of the sub’s Guppy II modernization. While a patient at the
Philadelphia Naval Hospital that he met Lt. Margaret Gemmill, a Navy nurse.
They were married on September 14, 1949. (In April, 1951, a son, Charles
Robert, was born to Woody and “Peg”, and in May, 1952, they had a daughter,
Underwater Weapons School (09/49–03/50), successfully completed.
USS Sea Leopard (SS-483; 06/50–06/51), including an extended deployment to
USS Bowfin (SS-287; 06/51–04/54), for which he participated in its
commissioning, fitting out, and decommissioning. (He was a “re-planker”.)
USS Tilefish (SS-307; 06/54–07/54), during which Chief Wert attended and
successfully completed one phase of instructor training.
USS Pargo (SS-264; 07/45–10/56)
During this assignment, he served as an instructor and received a commendation
for his part in Reserve Submarine Division 13-7 achieving outstanding results in
national competition. By the end of the assignment, Chief Wert was awarded the
designation of “Qualified Instructor”.
USS Tiru (SS-416; 06/57–09/58)
Chief Wert served as Gunnery Department ordnance petty officer and
Chief-of-the-Boat (COB), during Tiru’s sixth and seventh surveillance
patrols. For his “outstanding performance of duty” including “professional
skill, leadership, and industry” during and after the boat’s extended deployment
to the Far East, he was officially and publically commended before a Commanding
Officer’s Meritorious Mast . He also received a commendation for his
“leadership and spirit of cooperation”, during the boat’s shipyard overhaul.
USS Catfish (SS-339; 09/58–06/59), during which he received a commendation
from the Commanding Officer for “ouststanding performance of duty... in keeping
with the finest traditions of the Naval Service...”
USS Mapiro (SS-376; 06/59–06/60), which was his final assignment.
served as COB and was instrumental in preparing the Mapiro for transfer to the
Woodrow W. Wert, TMC(SS) transferred to Fleet Reserve and inactive duty on