DONALD P. WELLER, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Donald Weller '23

Date of birth: July 8, 1901

Date of death: December 17, 1927

Age: 26

Lucky Bag

From the 1923 Lucky Bag:

1923 Weller LB.jpg

Donald Weller

Los Angeles, California

"Rosie" "Don"

ROSIE is a typical son of California. He came to us from the land of the bathing beauties, and from the appearance of his ever-rosy cheeks it is easy to judge that he spent considerable of his time at the beach enjoying the native wonders of his territory. This also accounts for his unusual cognomen, Rosie.

Don has had a trying career at the Academy, but as each year has passed, we always see him clinging to the class with a desperate grip. He is not wooden, but rather inclined to worship the God of luck, and it must be admitted that he has been favored with the pleasure of his idol. Put Rosie in water and he becomes a fish. Not the quiet, graceful sort, although he is very gentle, but the brutish type that is always evinced by his activity in a game of water-polo. He has been an ever-present quantity in Neptune's squad. His ability as a snake is practically unknown, but when he does mingle with the fair sex, his beauty is the envy of them all. Notwithstanding all his faults, he is our Rosie and we will manage to live with him.

Swimming Squad (4); Numerals; Water-Polo Squad (3, 2); NA (2).

1923 Weller LB.jpg

Donald Weller

Los Angeles, California

"Rosie" "Don"

ROSIE is a typical son of California. He came to us from the land of the bathing beauties, and from the appearance of his ever-rosy cheeks it is easy to judge that he spent considerable of his time at the beach enjoying the native wonders of his territory. This also accounts for his unusual cognomen, Rosie.

Don has had a trying career at the Academy, but as each year has passed, we always see him clinging to the class with a desperate grip. He is not wooden, but rather inclined to worship the God of luck, and it must be admitted that he has been favored with the pleasure of his idol. Put Rosie in water and he becomes a fish. Not the quiet, graceful sort, although he is very gentle, but the brutish type that is always evinced by his activity in a game of water-polo. He has been an ever-present quantity in Neptune's squad. His ability as a snake is practically unknown, but when he does mingle with the fair sex, his beauty is the envy of them all. Notwithstanding all his faults, he is our Rosie and we will manage to live with him.

Swimming Squad (4); Numerals; Water-Polo Squad (3, 2); NA (2).

Loss

Donald was lost on December 17, 1927 when USS S-4 (SS 109) sank immediately following a collision with USCG Paulding (CG 17) near Cape Code, Massachusetts.

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz:

Donald graduated from Los Angeles high school in June 1918. He and a classmate were on the staff of the semi-annual in charge of the joshes section.

He was appointed to the Naval Academy by Congressman Osborne.

Donald had only been married for 18 months when the S-4 was sunk. During the rescue, his wife Marion spoke with Rear Admiral Philip Andrews by phone. She suggested that nearby vessels could form a circle around the S-4 area to form a breakwater against the turbulent sea. He explained that this maneuver would have no effect on the tremendous pressure below, so, efforts to descend needed to be suspended. The Boston Globe reported that the Admiral also said, “There’s a fine example of stalwart courage and faith. That woman was not crying or bewailing her fate. She is still buoyed by hope, and her first thought is of the living, whether or not the living includes her young husband.”

Several days after the disaster, Marion met with Graham Fitch’s wife, Maria, to console each other.

In 1930, Donald’s father William W. was a mail clerk for the railway. The census stated that his mother Margaret was born on the high seas, and her parents were Canadians from Nova Scotia.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and parents.

Photographs

Related Articles

William Callaway '11, Roy Jones '16, Joseph McGinley '21, and Graham Fitch '23 were also lost when S-4 sank.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

July 1923
Ensign, USS Idaho

September 1923
Ensign, USS Idaho

November 1923
Ensign, USS Idaho

January 1924
Ensign, USS Idaho

March 1924
Ensign, USS Idaho

May 1924
Ensign, USS Idaho

July 1925
Ensign, under instruction, USS Chewink

October 1925
Ensign, under instruction, USS Chewink

January 1926
Ensign, USS S-4

October 1926
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS S-4

January 1927
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS S-4

April 1927
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS S-4

October 1927
Lieutenant (j.g.), USS S-4

Memorial Hall Error

Donald is listed in Memorial Hall without his middle initial, P (Parsons). It is not included in the Lucky Bag, but it is present on his headstone.


Class of 1923

Donald is one of 25 members of the Class of 1923 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.