RADM Carl J. Seiberlich, 84, passed away in a Reston, VA hospital on March 24th. Seiberlich was born in Jenkintown, PA on July 4th, 1921. During high school, he was a member of a local Pennsylvania Sea Scout organization and rose to their highest rank of Quartermaster.
After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Pennsylvania studying to become a CPA. However, he later enrolled in the Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point, NY from which he graduated in 1943. During the early part of WWII, he served on two merchant troopships in the Pacific. In 1943, he was commissioned in the Navy, served aboard the USS Mayo (DD-422) as navigator, and saw combat in both the Atlantic theater (Salerno and Anzio invasions) and the Pacific (Okinawa invasion). Seiberlich was present in Tokyo Bay when the historic peace agreement with the Japanese was signed on September 2.
From 1946 until 1952 he obtained his Navy pilot's wings in lighter-than-air craft (aka blimps) and spent time at Lakehurst, NJ. He also made the first night landing of a blimp on an aircraft carrier. During this time, he helped develop tactics for the deployment of a blimp-towed anti-submarine warfare device that protected carrier fleets. For this, he was awarded the Harmon International Trophy by President Truman in the White House Rose Garden on Nov 18, 1952. He then served in various air and sea billets, also becoming qualified to land helicopters and fixed wing aircraft on aircraft carriers, the only naval aviator to earn all 3 designations. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, he played a prominent role in the surveillance, reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare operations.
In 1967, Captain Seiberlich became the Commanding Officer of the fleet oiler USS Salamonie (AO-26) and remained with the ship through its decommissioning at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Dec of 1968.
In May of 1969 he took command of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CVS-12). On July 24, 1969 the Hornet gained worldwide fame as the recovery ship for the first NASA lunar landing mission, Apollo 11. The largest TV audience to that time, over 500 million viewers, watched live as President Nixon welcomed Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins back to earth. On Nov 24, 1969 the Hornet repeated its flawless performance by recovering the Apollo 12 crew as they returned from the moon.
After decommissioning the Hornet in 1970, he became the Commander of ASW Group 3 with his flag on the USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14). Later assignments included Deputy Chief of Naval personnel and Commander of the Naval Military Personnel Center. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit (6 times) and the Air Medal.
Retiring from the Navy in 1980, RADM Seiberlich worked for several defense contractors in the transportation industry, including American President Lines, the global container shipping company, and Transystems, a maritime consulting corporation. He also was the US representative to the International Standards Organization on a working group trying to improve the security of ports and cargo against acts of terrorism.
A Catholic mass will be held at 12:45pm on July 11th at the Fort Meyer Chapel, Arlington, VA, followed by burial with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
More information about his life and career can be found on the USS Hornet Museum website, www.uss-hornet.org.