From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Metschl '46

Date of birth: December 22, 1923

Date of death: October 15, 1963

Age: 39

Lucky Bag

From the 1946 Lucky Bag:


From The Bulletin of the U.S. Antarctic Projects Officer, Volume V, Number 3, November 1963:

Commander John J. Metsohel, USN, Commanding Officer of USS STATEN ISLAND, and Ensign James L. Wood, helicopter pilot, were killed on 15 October 1963 when their helicopter crashed and broke through the ice of the Beaufort See, north of Alaska. Neither body was recovered.

Commander Metschel and STATEN ISLAND participated in Operation DEEP FREEZE 63 in the Antarctic. During that operation, STATEN ISLAND assisted in opening a channel to McMurdo Station through record quantities of test bay ice and, later in the season, carried out a remarkable survey of the Palmer Peninsula area to determine the site for a new biology-geology station. At the time of Cocmiander Metschel's death, STATEN ISLAND was taking part in a scientific research project. His loss will be felt by the Navy, the cause of science, and the country which he served so well.

He was performing ice reconnaissance at the time.

Unable to find a memory marker.


From the March 1964 issue of Shipmate:

Jack was killed last 15 October in the crash of a helicopter in the Beaufort Sea, north of the Arctic Circle. Jack was in command of USS STATEN ISLAND at the time of the accident and had planned to be relieved on 1 November 1963, as he had orders to be Special Projects Officer at Sperry Gyroscope Co., Long Island, N. Y. I received the news in the following letter from Judy: "The accident happened October 15th, pretty much as the article describes it. When an icebreaker is in thick ice,either the CO or Exec flies in the helicopter much of the time looking for leads thru the ice. Jack was doing this when something happened to the helicopter tail rotor, evidently, we're not sure yet since the findings of the Board of Inquiry have not been released, but anyway the 'copter crashed to the ice and sank, killing both men immediately. Of course the whole thing is the most horrible experience I ever hope to have to go thru but in a way, it was a fitting and merciful death for Jack. He had wanted to be in the Navy since he was eleven and loved it and his ship so much and died the perfect death for him—at sea and in command of the ship he was so proud of. I have received so many wonderful letters from all over the world since his death and everyone has paid so many fine compliments to Jack, but the one of which I am most proud is the one paid by the ship. At the time of his death, they were setting off very large explosive charges and they, the NORTHWIND (the Coast Guard Icebreaker) and the scientific station at Pt. Barrow were recording the charges and, by triangulating the sound waves, were recording the depth of the bottom in that area, which has never been done before because of the ice. It is dangerous and hard work since the ice at this time of the year is quite heavy. The accident happened on Tuesday. The next morning the new CO left Seattle to go to the ship at Pt. Barrow on the following lowing Friday but before he got there he was pulled off the plane and told the ship had sent a message to Kodiak asking permission to not come in until the following week since they felt they were capable of finishing the work first. The Executive Officer was new and had only been on the ship two weeks so this is a wonderful tribute to Jack's training and leadership, since the whole burden had to fall on the men themselves. So, I am very proud to be Jack's widow. We only had five years together but they were busy, happy ones and how much better this way than not to have known him at all. Now for us."


He was executive officer of USS Charles H. Roan (DD 853) from 1954-1956 as a LT.


Several sources spell his last name "Metschel"; believe this is likely incorrect. Lucky Bag, Memorial Hall, and some sources spell it "Metschl."

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Franklin Smith, Jr. '46 and Lewis Adkins, Jr. '46 were also members of 20th Company.

Class of 1946

John is one of 35 members of the Class of 1946 on Virtual Memorial Hall.