Captain William M. Montgomery
|Bill Montgomery was born May 3, 1921 in St.
Thomas, Virgin Islands, the second of four sons of Howard H. Montgomery,
a U.S. Navy Medical Officer. His childhood and adolescent years
saw the periodic moves typical of a military family. Locations
included Quantico, Panama, Norfolk, Long Beach, Philadelphia and
Washington, D.C. He graduated from Washington's Woodrow Wilson
High School in 1937. After a year of prep school, he entered the
Naval Academy in the Class of 1942. Accelerated due to the
prospect of war, the class graduated December 19, 1941.
His first assignment was USS SIMPSON, a WWI "four stacker" destroyer, on convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic. Responsibility came rapidly in those early days of the war and he became Engineering Officer after about a month.
Early 1943 brought orders to the commissioning crew of a new DD, the USS STEMBLE in Bath, Maine. After shakedown and a trip to Casablanca, STEMBLE went through the Panama Canal and joined the Pacific Fleet in time to participate in the Marshall Islands campaign in early 1944. Subsequent actions included the first Truk raid, the Marianas Campaign and the landings at Leyte, Mindoro and Lingayen Gulf in the Phillipines. He became Gunnery Officer in early 1945 after which, STEMBLE supported the Marines at Iwo Jima and operated with the fast carrier task forces covering the Okinawa landings and striking the Japanese home islands.
In July 1945, he returned to the states for a month of leave during which the Japanese surrender took place. In September, he reported as Executive Officer of USS ZELLERS. During his nine month tenure, ZELLERS, accompanied the new "super carriers" MIDWAY and FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT on their shakedown cruises.
On December 31, 1945, LCDR Montgomery married Marion L. Saunders of Norfolk, VA. The newlyweds went to Annapolis in June 1946, where he attended the Naval Post Graduate School, graduating in 1949 with a Master's degree in Engineering Electronics. This was followed by a little over a year on the staff of the Research and Development Board in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
In late 1950, the Montgomery's, who now included a newborn son, moved to Norfolk, where he joined the staff of Commander, Operational Development Force as Assistant Electronics Material Officer. Promised to be no more than two years, the assignment lasted three, but brought orders to command the USS RODMAN in Charleston, SC. This move coincided with the November 1953 birth of a daughter.
The Montgomery's next returned to the Naval Academy for a three year tour as an instructor in Electrical Engineering. From teaching he reverted to student at the Naval War College in Newport. Completing the Senior Course in 1959, he received orders to command the USS FORREST SHERMAN. SHERMAN was in the Great Lakes at this time as a participant in the Inland Seas Cruise celebrating the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The tour in the SHERMAN lasted a full two years and included a seven month Mediterranean deployment, an overhaul followed by REFTRA in Guantanamo, an interesting involvement in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs debacle, a most enjoyable midshipman cruise and several visits to the Boston Naval Shipyard as the Navy learned a number of practical lessons about the operation and maintenance of 1200 psi steam plants.
Promotion to Captain came shortly before detachment with orders to Norfolk as Director of the Combat Direction Systems Division on the Staff of the Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force. In September 1963, Captain Montgomery reported as Chief of Staff to COMCRUDWSFLOT 12 based in Norfolk. Reporting in Ajaccio, Corsica and returning to Norfolk, the staff deployed for six months in 1964. In December of that year, he was relieved in Naples, and reported as COMDESDIV 62, comprised of three C.F. ADAMS class DDGs, home ported in Charleston, SC. Again, the tour of duty started and ended during a Mediterranean deployment.
In June 1966, he reported to the USS TOPEKA as Commanding Officer in Long Beach. The ship had just returned from Viet Nam and entered Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard for overhaul in anticipation of a return to WESTPAC. Instead, she was deployed to the Med, transiting the Panama Canal to pick up COMCRUDESFLOT 12 in Norfolk, and arriving in Palma, Majorca in August 1967. Three months later, she moored in Villefranche-Sur-Mer, the first major US Navy ship to visit the French Rivera since the Sixth Fleet flagship's homeport was moved to Gaeta, Italy. Captain Montgomery was relieved here and flew to Washington, DC. where he reported as Deputy Director of the Tactical Warfare Division in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operation for Research and Development. The Montgomery's bought a house in Alexandria that was to become home for the next thirty-one years.
His duties involved planning, budgeting and supporting R&D programs for tactical warfare weapons and equipment. Of particular interest at that time were the early system definition stages of the AEGIS system and the HARPOON anti-ship missile. His responsibilities also included US Navy representation on a number of NATO groups seeking cooperative development and standardization of tactical systems for Naval Forces. Captain Montgomery chaired a NATO Project Group on Fast Patrol Boats, which effort resulted in the program for development of the PHM class hydrofoils. After a challenging and very busy three years, he retired from active duty on June 30, 1971. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his performance in this assignment.
Immediately after retirement, he took a position with the US Agent for a French manufacturer of linear induction motors. He then accepted a position as a systems engineer and program manager with TECHPLAN Corporation. The firm furnished engineering and management consulting services to government and industry. His primary efforts were in support of Navy programs for tactical data systems and electronic warfare. He retired from full time employment in 1986 and ceased part time efforts in 1988.
Captain and Mrs. Montgomery reside in Sterling, VA.