Tuesday, June 23, 2009

National Guard, Air Force mourn the loss of former Washington D.C. Adjutant General

Above: U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr.

Retired Maj. Gen. David Wherley, former commander of the D.C. Army and Air National Guard, and his wife Ann, were among the nine victims killed in the D.C. Metro train crash yesterday.

Wherley commanded the 113th Wing at Andrews Air Force Base. The couple lived in the Hill East neighborhood and the general could often be seen walking to and from the armory.

He joined the Army reserve as a second lieutenant in 1969. After a brief active duty tour, he joined the D.C. Air National Guard. According to his official biography, he was deputy operations group commander for fighters in Saudi Arabia. He had logged more than 5,000 hours of flying time and was a graduate of the Fighter Weapons Instructor Course for the F-4 Phantom.

Wherley retired from the military in June 2008. When he was commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters, D.C. National Guard, he was responsible for operational readiness and command and control of the 3,200 soldiers and airmen in the D.C. Army and Air National Guard.

Wherley was the officer who scrambled fighters into Washington's skies on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"Most of our members have lived in the D.C. area for much of their lives," Wherley said in an interview a few days after the attacks. "To be patrolling and looking down on their homes, that has been an emotional moment."

The two trains collided about 5:00 p.m. in what officials said was the worst crash in the 30-plus year history of Metrorail. Nine people--two men and seven women--were killed, and more than 70 others were injured.

Investigators continued to determine the cause of the crash, which happened when a stopped train was rear-ended by another. The violent impact of the collision sent the second train into the air, its front cars coming to rest on top of the stopped train.

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