Fallen TACAMO Veteran - CAPT Walter H. Reese, TACAMO Hall of Fame Inductee
8 September 1925 - 12 September 2019
Posting from Son of Walt Reese, Chuck Reese
A life force has gone out of our family’s world, and I think the world at large as well. My father, CAPT Walter H Reese, USN (Ret), a 30 year career Naval Aviator with 12,600 hours of flight time, 11 years of teaching as the senior Naval Science instructor at the Milton High School NJROTC unit and countless hours of volunteer efforts for Navy League, ARC, Santa Rosa Clean Community and Blackwater River Cleanup, Boy Scouts of America, the Presbyterian Church at local, regional and international levels, Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce (twice honored as their “Man of the Year”) passed away peacefully in the early morning hours on 12 September 2019 and is now with his beloved wife Mary. He turned 94 on 8 September. They were married for almost 72 years when she passed away in April 2018 and Dad missed her every day since then. All three of his sons as well as his surviving sister were here in his house on Magnolia Basin where he was able to “age in place” thru the efforts of a terrific team of ladies (and one man) from Home Instead and his passing was eased by the resources brought to bear thru Emerald Coast Hospice over the last 3 months. We played music that he enjoyed and that reminded us of him. He was surrounded by love and passed away peacefully. The sunrise photo was the view out over Magnolia Basin on the morning of the 12th.
In spite of the challenges brought on by his failing health over the last three years he was fiercely positive and always had a smile for any visitor. He brought a can do attitude to everything he ever did and everyone I have ever met who knew my dad has said how much he meant to them. Even the hospice nurses who just met him in the last three months.
He did not have any “quit” in his DNA. (He was also the most uniquely stubborn individual I have ever known.) As recently as the week before he passed away, if I asked him how he was doing he would say, “Great!” Or, “Gonna make it.” And he meant it. That very long sentence at the beginning with the list of organizations is an indication of his passion for helping others, and it isn’t even complete. When I was still on active duty, if I called him to say that I could take a day off next week to go fishing, it was harder for him to clear his schedule than it was for me.
His career in the Navy was long and rewarding for him. He developed the technique for communicating with nuclear submarines when he was with the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster, PA in 1961-63. This is now a part of strategic system that is known as TACAMO (an acronym standing for Take Charge and Move Out) which is critical for maintaining communication between all aspects of the nations strategic defense systems. This link will take you to a 6 minute video interview of Dad that was done here at his house in Milton in 2012, the year he was inducted into the TACAMO Hall of Fame: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vic8uAquTKQ In the background you will hear dozens of birds calling to each other in their own version of TACAMO, including an osprey. He was the commanding officer of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 4 stationed in Puerto Rico and then NAS Jacksonville. This squadron flew aircraft (Super Radar Constellations during my dad’s time with the squadron) into hurricanes with low level penetrations at ~500’ to take measurements that were used to assess the strength of the storm. These were critical to accurately predicting the path and strength of the storms. This link tells the story of one of his flights: https://www.popsci.com/ordeal-snowcloud-one/ (If page does not come up, click on Allow Cookies) The picture of the airplane is the plane described in this story. Mostly, he was our dad, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle and best advocate any of us could ever have. He and Mom came to every significant family event for all of us: births, graduations, Eagle Scout ceremonies, you name it. They also traveled to the promotions and changed of command for the students from the NJROTC unit who went into the military, even if it wasn’t the Navy. They traveled the world together and made it a better place for all of us. He was my fishing partner and I will miss him forever.
A service will be held on 22 September 2019 at 2 pm at the Milton Presbyterian Church to celebrate the life of Captain Walt Reese, USN. More information is forthcoming from the family.
Until then, continue to post any photos or memories you have of Captain Reese. He touched countless lives, so please tag yourself and share this with as many friends as possible.
TCVA extends its sympathy and prayer for peace to Captain Walt Reese family and friends during this time of the passing.
TACAMO ALPHA Captain Walt Reese (2012 TACAMO Hall of Fame Inductee): Flew the very first VLF airborne transmitter flights in 1962. This is how we get to 50+ years of OPS. Repaired and modified an EC-121 Super Connie (photo above) to do this work at NAS Johnsville (Warminster) Had the first orbit, first moving block of airspace, first wire icing and loss, first carrier battle group interference. Later CO of NAS Johnsville, PA. NJROTC commander at Milton HS (mentor to young LT Vern Lochausen an MHS alum) & Regional Director of Navy League