WALTHER G. MASER, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Walther Maser '19

Date of birth: September 15, 1897

Date of death: February 16, 1930

Age: 32

Lucky Bag

From the 1919 Lucky Bag:

Loss

From the Argus Leader on February 18, 1930:

Washington, Feb, 18.—(AP)—Official reports from the U. S. S. Nevada at Guatanama bay, Cuba, today gave in detail the circumstances surounding the death of Lieutenant Walther G. Maser, who was killed Sunday during the launching of an airplane from the battleship.

Maser was “supervising” the launching of the plane from a powder catapult mounted on the third turret of the ship, a statement from the navy department said.

“He gave the signal to fire,” the report continued, “then for a reason that may never be known, stepped into the immediate vicinity of exhaust stack of the catapult. After the launching was completed, and in the normal manner of the powder gas which furnished the power to operate the catapult rushed out to the atmosphere through the exhaust stack.

Lieutenant Maser was so near that this rush of gas, acting as it does like the blast from a gun, killed him instantly.

“Lieutenant Maser had long experience with this type of catapult and must have been fully aware of the danger of standing in the vicinity of the exhaust stack.

“The plane was launched successfully and was not damaged in any particular, so first reports erroneously stated that it was blown to bits. Both the operation of the catapult and the behavior of the plane were normal in every respect.”

From researcher Kathy Franz:

His father Frederick, Stark County judge, lived in Dickinson, North Dakota, and contacted Congress members for an investigation into his son’s death. His three brothers were Fred, Victor, and Albert, and his two sisters were Ruth and Viola. His brother Fred described him as a cheerful person who was mechanically inclined. Memorial services were held at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ullin, North Dakota.

Walther’s wife Edith and 4-month-old baby, Robert Brockwell Maser, lived in Norfolk. Edith renamed their son Walther, and she remarried on July 22, 1937, to John Ballentine Norfleet. She died in 1999. On June 16, 1953, Ensign Walther George Maser (Class of 1953) married Sally Evans Wales in Richmond, Virginia.

Walther was first assigned to submarine duty seeing service in the war. He left to join the air service in 1925. He was considered one of the best aviators in his squadron and for the last three years was flying instructor at Annapolis.

As of August 7, 2020 the Naval Academy Alumni Association lists his son as alive and living in Richmond, Virginia.

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.

January 1919

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS D-3

January 1920

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS N-5

January 1921

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS St. Louis


Others at this command:

January 1922

Lieutenant (j.g.), commanding officer, USS SC-338

May 1923

Lieutenant, under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida


Others at this command:

September 1923

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

May 1924

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

July 1924

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

September 1924

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

November 1924

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

January 1925

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

March 1925

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

May 1925

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

July 1925

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron 1


Others at this command:

October 1925

Lieutenant, Naval Academy


Others at this command:

January 1926

Lieutenant, Naval Academy


Others at this command:


Others at or embarked at this command:

1LT Frederick Chappelle '20 (Marine Barracks, Naval Academy)

October 1926

Lieutenant, Naval Academy


Others at this command:


Others at or embarked at this command:

1LT Frederick Chappelle '20 (Marine Barracks, Naval Academy)

January 1927

Lieutenant, Naval Academy


Others at this command:


Others at or embarked at this command:

1LT Frederick Chappelle '20 (Marine Barracks, Naval Academy)

July 1928

Lieutenant, Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Langley


Others at or embarked at USS Langley:

LCDR Frank McCord '11 (USS Langley)
LTjg Charles McDonald '24 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 2B)

October 1928

Lieutenant, Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Langley


Others at or embarked at USS Langley:

LCDR Frank McCord '11 (USS Langley)
LTjg Charles McDonald '24 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 2B)

January 1929

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Arizona


Others at or embarked at USS Arizona:

April 1929

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Arizona


Others at or embarked at USS Arizona:

July 1929

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada


Others at or embarked at USS Nevada:

October 1929

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada


Others at or embarked at USS Nevada:

January 1930

Lieutenant, Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B, USS Nevada


Others at or embarked at USS Nevada:


Class of 1919

Walther is one of 11 members of the Class of 1919 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.