Re: RAdm. Thomas J. Patterson died 1 October 2008
Obituary posted by the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association.
Death of Rear Admiral Thomas J. Patterson, USMS (Ret.), Class of 1944October 1, 2008
It is with the deepest regret that we must inform you of the death of Rear Admiral Thomas J. Patterson, USMS (Ret.), Class of 1944, formerly of San Rafael, California.
Admiral Tom Patterson served his nation for nearly seventy years, as a Merchant Mariner, a Naval Officer, and a Civil Servant. He was perhaps best known for his tireless advocacy of preserving our nation's maritime heritage as founder of the National Liberty Ship Memorial, home of the SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN. His life truly exemplified the Academy's motto, "Acta Non Verba."
Thomas John Patterson, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 3, 1924 the son of Tom and Anna Patterson. As a child, he heeded the call of the sea and began a lifelong association with ships. He entered the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943, and graduated in December, 1944. For the next six years, he sailed in the Merchant Marine on runs in the Atlantic, Pacific and Middle East, and attained his Master's license. In 1950, Admiral Patterson entered active duty in the United States Navy. During the Korean War, he served aboard USS UNION (AKA 106) as Boat Group Commander for the landings at Inchon and Wonsan. He later had command of the radar picket ship USS GUARDIAN (AGR 1), and the destroyer USS HALSEY POWELL (DD 686). Admiral Patterson left active duty in 1962 and joined the federal Maritime Administration, where he rose to the position of Director, Western Region. During his tenure, he forged a strong partnership between the Maritime Administration, the Navy, the Coast Guard, and the local maritime industry. He was recognized by the Secretary of the Navy with the Distinguished Public Service Award in 1976.
In 1982, Admiral Patterson returned to his alma mater as Deputy Superintendent. While at Kings Point, he led efforts to save the 1854-vintage steam engine from the TV EMERY RICE, the former USMMA training ship. A staunch supporter of the Academy, the Regimental Band, and the Sailing Team, he and his "Chief Mate", Ann, were ever-present figures at Academy events. Admiral Patterson retired in 1985, after thirty-five years of government service. Over the course of the following twenty-one years, he has cemented his place in history as a staunch advocate of preserving America's seafaring heritage, a role that began in 1962.
Soon after joining MARAD's Western Region, Admiral Patterson realized that the world's once-vast fleet of Liberty Ships the ships that guaranteed Allied victory in World War II would eventually disappear. Determined to preserve that legacy to educate future generations, he combed the ghost ships of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, to identify a sturdy vessel in her original condition. He found one, and for the next 17 years, he played a kind of shell game to keep the SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN from the scrap yards. Finally, in 1979, he organized the National Liberty Ship Memorial, a partnership between the federal and state government, the military and private industry. The ship became part of a floating history exhibit in San Francisco, where she lies to this day. In 1994, she steamed under her own power from San Francisco to Normandy, manned by dozens of merchant marine veterans, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the only ship there which had also taken part in the original assault. Today, the SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN is a living testament to the ingenuity and grit of the American Merchant Marine.
In 2004, Admiral Patterson was named a Chevalier of the Légion D'Honneur by President Jacques Chirac of France, in recognition of his work with the SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN. He also received the Medal of Honor of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the LaLonde Spirit of the Sea Award of the Council of American Master Mariners, the DOT Distinguished Career Award, and was named the 1984 Kings Pointer Alumnus of the Year. Admiral Patterson was predeceased by his first wife and devoted "Chief Mate" Ann. At the time of his death, he was married to Dorothy Blackburn Patterson, and resided in South Carolina.
A memorial service has been scheduled at the Mariners' Chapel on Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 1:00 P.M.
Letters of condolence can be sent to
The Thomas Patterson Family
1444 St. Thomas Circle, #D1
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Admiral Patterson's ashes will be scattered from the JEREMIAH O'BRIEN in May, 2009.
In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested you consider making a donation to:
National Liberty Ship Memorial
San Francisco, CA 94111
--- In PMMC-NLUS@yahoogroups.com, "Phelps Hobart" <nlsac@...> wrote:
Rear Admiral Thomas J. Patterson, USMS (Ret.) died 1 October in New York. He was an active Navy League life member and a charter member of the Pacific Merchant Marine Council. He was a wonderful individual, a fine officer, and an inspiring influence to countless mariners. God bless.