Owen W. Siler
|Owen W. Siler|
|Birth name||Owen Wesley Siler|
January 10, 1922|
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
July 17, 2007 (aged 85)|
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
|Buried||Savannah, Georgia, U.S.|
|Service/||United States Coast Guard|
|Years of service||1943-1978|
|Commands held||Commandant of the Coast Guard|
Occupation of Japan|
Cuban refugee crisis of 1965
Legion of Merit|
Meritorious Service Medal
Coast Guard Unit Commendation
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Early life and education
Siler was born in Seattle, Washington and grew up in Santa Maria, California where he attended Santa Maria High School. He graduated from Santa Maria Junior College (now Allan Hancock College) in 1940, and transferred to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, graduating a year early due to World War II. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the assault troop transport ship, USS Hunter Liggett, and participated in the invasion of Bougainville. Siler received a Master of Science degree in International Affairs from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs in 1968.
During World War II, Siler quickly advanced through the ranks, serving as a gunnery officer, assistant navigator, and deck watch officer. In the immediate aftermath of the war, he participated in the U.S. occupation of Northern Honshū, Japan.
Upon returning to the United States in April 1946, he briefly served as a personnel officer at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Alameda, California, before his assignment as navigator of USCGC Taney.
His career with the U.S. Coast Guard included serving as a deck officer afloat, as an aviator performing search and rescue patrols, and ashore in the law enforcement, marine safety and environmental protection fields. Other assignments included chief of the search and rescue branch in Juneau, Alaska, deputy chief of staff in Washington, and commanding officer at Air Station Miami, where the station received a Coast Guard unit commendation for Cuban exodus operations during October and November 1965.
From 1971 until his appointment as Commandant, he served as Commander of the St. Louis-based 2nd Coast Guard District.
During Siler's tenure as commandant he instituted a minority recruiting program and was instrumental in having women admitted to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, making it the first of the military service academies to do so. He also oversaw the expansion of the U.S. Coast Guard's marine environmental protection program, with the passage of the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976, to include an increase of the service's jurisdiction along the U.S. coastline to more than two million square miles.
Siler was the last World War II veteran to serve as Commandant.
Dates of rank
|Ensign||Lieutenant, Junior Grade||Lieutenant||Lieutenant Commander||Commander||Captain|
|June 9, 1943||April 1, 1944||November 1, 1945||August 26, 1952||July 1, 1959||July 1, 1965|
|Commodore||Rear Admiral||Vice Admiral||Admiral|
|Never held||July 1, 1971||Never held||June 1, 1974|
Later life and death
Following his retirement from the U.S. Coast Guard, Siler moved to Savannah, Georgia. He died in Savannah, Georgia from complications of heart failure on July 17, 2007, at the age of 85, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
- "OBITUARY: ADM. OWEN W. SILER". US Coast Guard Headquarters. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
- "From the California Coast to Coast Guard Commandant:". Foundation for California Community Colleges. Archived from the original on December 23, 2010.
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