Karl Schlegel Van Meter was born on 15 April 1916 in Dunseith, North Dakota, son of Karl B. and Ameilia (Schlegel) Van Meter. He attended Los Angeles (California) High School and San Diego (California) Army and Navy Junior College, prior to entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from the State of California in 1935. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 1 June 1939, he subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date from 1 January 1959.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1939, he joined USS New Mexico (BB-40) and in August 1941 was detached from that battleship for flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. During March and April 1942 he had further training at the Naval Air Station, Miami, Florida, and on 22 April 1942 was designated Naval Aviator. The next month he joined Escort Fighting Squadron TWENTY-SIX and served with that squadron until August 1942. After a period of hospitalization, he was assigned in July 1944 to the Naval Air Station, San Diego, California, where he had duty as Administrative Assistant to the Operations Officer and Operations Pilot.
In February 1945 he reported as Executive Officer of Bombing-Fighting Squadron SEVEN and in November 1945 joined USS Barnes (CVE-20) as Air Officer. In September 1946 he transferred, in a similar capacity, to USS Suwaunee (CVE-27) and in February 1947 was detached to serve as Damage Control Officer, First Lieutenant, Air Officer, Operations Officer and Navigation Officer with Sub Group ONE, Boston Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Between March and June 1949 he had refresher training at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Cabaniss Field, Corpus Christi, Texas, after which he had instruction with the Fleet Air Electronics Training Unit, Pacific, at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, California.
In August 1949 he reported as Executive Officer of Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED NINETY TWO. He had temporary command of that squadron during the period October to December 1949 and in June 1950 again assumed command of that fighter squadron. He was awarded the Air Medal with Gold Stars in lieu of the Second and Third Air Medals for completing fifty strike missions over hostile territory in the Korean area during the period 5 December 1950 to 2 May 1951. In August 1951 he became Mutual Defense Assistance Programming Officer for the Aircraft Programs Section, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D C where he continued to serve until April 1953.
Ordered to Air Force, Pacific Fleet, he had duty as Prospective Commander of Carrier Air Group TWELVE. He assumed command of that air group in June 1953 and for “meritorious performance of duty as Pilot of a Jet Photo Escort Aircraft in Carrier Air Group TWELVE, attached to the USS BOXER, on 12 April 1954…” he received a Letter of Commendation, with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon, from the Secretary of the Navy. The citation further states: “Flying escort for an unarmed photo aircraft on a specially assigned mission, (he) provided protective cover for the aircraft, thereby allowing complete photographic coverage of a very important target, which supplied vital and timely information to the United States Navy…”
From October to December 1954 he had training at the Fleet Training Center, San Diego, California, after which he had duty in connection with the conversion of USS Shangri-La (CVA-38) at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington. He reported on board as Operations Officer when that vessel was re-commissioned on 10 January 1955. Detached from that escort aircraft carrier in June 1956, he was next in command of the Naval Technical Training Unit at the Naval Air Station, Olathe, Kansas.
In February 1958 he joined Carrier Division ONE as Operations Officer and in September 1959 became Commanding Officer of Air Development Squadron FIVE. Detached from command of that squadron in September 1961, he next had duty as Deputy Commander, Plans Coordination Officer and Manpower Officer on the Staff of the Commander Pacific Missile Range, Point Mugu, California. In January 1963 he assumed command of the Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, and in December 1965 was ordered to duty on the Joint Staff of Commander Joint Task Force TWO.
In addition to the Air Medal with two Gold Stars and the Commendation Ribbon, Captain Van Meter has the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal; and the United Nations Service Medal.