From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Douglas Deem '76

Date of birth: February 3, 1954

Date of death: November 17, 1981

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1976 Lucky Bag:


Douglas was lost when his S-3A crashed short of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) on November 17, 1981 approximately 70 miles northwest of Sicily.

The Associated Press reported that "Cmdr. Phillip Reed, 38, Orange Park, pilot and commander of Air Anti-Submarine Squadron 24 based at Cecil Field Naval Air Station; Lt. Douglas Deem, 27, New Kensington, Pa., co-pilot and tactical coordinator; Lt. j.g. Carey Arthur, 24, Wayne, N.J., tactical coordinator; and Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Wade, 20, Clinton, Miss., acoustics-sensor operator," were killed in the crash.

Doug was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William R. Deem, a brother and two sisters.


From David Winters ‘76 via email on December 9, 2019:

A group of us 36th Company 1/C, including Doug Deem, were talking over aspirations. Doug looked a bit adrift among that crowd who had finely developed career hopes and plans. He gazed at us as if we were from a different planet, looked down, shook his head and said, “I dunno guys. All I want to do is have fun, and fly fast.”

That moment is still my most vivid memory of Doug. Well, that is except for the time when I was new to 36th Company, and we were on field for a softball game. Doug was playing 2nd base, and the runner on second was leading off base hoping I would fumble around and let him take third. I looked left at the first baseman and while still turned away from Doug, shot the ball to my right, straight to him, and head high, figuring he’d tag out the runner by surprise. Well, the runner WAS surprised by my little ruse, but so was Doug. He barely got his glove up before the ball smashed into it.

Gotta give him credit, though. Doug tagged out the runner, though his eyes were watering from the sudden unexpected contact between his face and the back of his glove.

Douglas was kinda grumpy with me for catching him off guard. He scolded me to look before I threw the ball. Yet, we pulled off the play. There was no point in arguing, and both knew that, had I not been looking away from him, the runner never would have left second base at all. After that, though, I don’t think Doug ever trusted me to be conventionally straight forward in anything, ever. Good call, I suppose.

From Brad Little '76, via email on December 10, 2019:

Great stories Dave. To “Go fast and have Fun,” I would add date good looking women which we all know he had a knack for.

Here is my story: Having grown up in Pittsburgh, Doug always had a particular interest in the "assumed" fast time to be had in Southern California. This manifested itself in one extended leave period when he accompanied me home. In addition to introducing him to the entire cheerleading squad from my days at Glendale High School, we spent a lot of time hanging with buddies. Doug wanted to visit the world famous Tommy Burgers. So I, and my close friend Julio Palomino, headed to Eagle Rock for a double with chili. Julio orders, grabs a couple of the chili peppers traditionally offered at the head of the line, and starts chopping. I follow suit and start chopping. Doug’s turn. Orders his double cheeseburger with chili and grabs a couple of peppers. Chomps down, lets out a yelp, quickly followed by a scream and takes off running. We find him a couple of doors north standing in someone’s driveway with a garden house running in his mouth. Of course I apologized for not explaining the relative heat seen in the Pittsburgh vs. Barrio food scene. Took him about a week to forgive me as I remember.

From Gary Greenfield '76 on 21 Dec, 2019:

Like all, I remember Doug's vibrancy and go for approach to the world. But I also remember his selflessness. If Doug were the Jim Thorpe of class, than I certainly fell at the other extreme, particularly in the 36th company. Plebe summer, when we were doing our morning run for the company and the goal was to be at the front and not languish at the rear, where I was perennially, Doug allowed all to pass him until he was by my side offering to help me along and sharing some thoughts on how to improve as a runner. That was Doug's spirit - not only that summer but throughout the years.

Related Articles

CDR Philip L. Reed '65 and LTjg Carey A. Arthur '79 were also killed in this crash.

Class of 1976

Douglas is one of 11 members of the Class of 1976 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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