Wayne E. Meyer was born in Brunswick, Missouri on April 21, 1926 to Eugene and Nettie Gunn Meyer. His family were livestock and grain farmers working soil called gumbo by the locals. Eugene lost everything in the Great Depression and moved his family of four children north to the St. Boniface area north of Brunswick.
There Wayne attended the Catholic School, a two-room schoolhouse with Sister Mary Joann his teacher for grades five through eight combined in one room. Wayne enrolled in the 140 pupil Brunswick High School in 1939 with Miss Edith Marston his primary teacher. Under her tutelage, he and three other students prepared to take a three day Armed Services competitive exam in early 1943, which they all passed. In April they were called to Kansas City for their physical fitness exam for enlistment in a competitive college program which was created by President Roosevelt called the V-12 in the Navy.
Meyer enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves in May 1943 at the age of 17. He graduated as valedictorian with his class later that month and in June was called to active duty as Seaman Apprentice, USNR. He reported to the University of Kansas on July 1, 1943 where he was enrolled in the Engineering school. From there he attended M.I.T. and later ordered to radar picket destroyer Goodrich. He qualified for Officer of the Deck at age 20.
In 1963, Commander Meyer was selected to serve in the Navy Task Force for Surface Guided Missile Systems. In 1970, he was recalled to Washington, D.C. to the Naval Ordnance Systems Commands as Manager, Aegis Weapon System which was begun by the Navy as the Advanced Surface Missile System, to arm the fleet against advanced Soviet air threats in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Meyer was experienced in system development, familiar with current fleet problems and savvy enough to deal with the DoD and Navy hierarchy.
Meyer insisted on vigorous testing of the new missile system with his philosophy being “Build a Little, Test a Little, Learn a Lot.” He had witnessed problems with existing missile systems that related to a lack of testing, tests that included too may objectives and failed system integration efforts requiring massive repair programs, he insisted the project conduct numerous tests in development and in the delivery of production gear before installation of a ship.
The USS Ticonderoga was the first Aegis-equipped ship, a modified Spruance-class hull, commissioned in January 1983. It fired its first guns in Lebanon a short nine months later.
Wayne E. Meyer retired from active duty in 1985 as Rear Admiral. In November 2006, the USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) was named in his honor and christened October 18, 2008, the 85th Aegis ship to be constructed and wield the 100 th Aegis system. It was commissioned October 10, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Rear Admiral Meyer died September 1, 2009 and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.