Walter Victor Rudolph Vieweg was born in Buffalo, New York, on 19 September 1902, son of the Revered R. Vieweg and Mrs. Emma (Klein) Vieweg. He attended Elmira (New York) Free Academy before his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from his native state in 1920. As a Midshipman he participated in football and wrestling. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 4 June 1924, he subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Captain, to date from 1 June 1943.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1924, he joined USS California, and in May 1925 transferred to USS Zeilin. From October 1925 until January 1927 he had further service afloat in USS John Francis Burnes. Upon being detached from that destroyer, he was ordered to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. Designated Naval Aviator on 17 November 1926, he reported in February 1927 for duty with Torpedo Squadron TWO, operating with Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet. Between December 1927 and May 1929 he was assigned to USS New York, serving consecutively with Observation Squadrons ONE-B and THREE-B.
Returning to the United States, he attended a course in aviation ordnance at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland, and from March 1921 to May 1932 had practical instruction at the Navy Yard, Washington, DC. Following duty with Torpedo Squadron TWO-B based on USS Saratoga, he was assigned in June 1934 to Fighting Squadron FIVE-B, attached to USS Lexington. He continued to serve with that squadron until June 1935, after which he was attached briefly to the Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Virginia. In August of the same year, he joined Patrol Squadron THREE-F, based on Coco Solo, Canal Zone, and in April 1937 transferred to Scouting Squadron SEVEN-B (redesignated in July 1937, Scouting Squadron Five), operating from USS Yorktown.
In November 1938 he assumed command of Fighting Squadron SIX, and when relieved of that command in June 1939, joined the staff of Commander Patrol Wing ONE as Gunnery and Tactics Officer. In January 1940 he became Operations Officer and continued to serve in that capacity until June 1940 when he reported as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron FIFTY SIX. He returned to the United States in June 1941 and was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, DC, where he remained after the United States entered World War II, 8 December 1941, and until October 1943.
“For…outstanding service as Chief of the Aviation Ordnance Section of the Fleet Maintenance Division of the Bureau of Ordnance from June 19, 1941 until October 22, 1943…” he received a Letter of Commendation, with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon from the Secretary of the Navy. The citation further states in part: “By his leadership, outstanding organizational ability, meticulous efforts in training personnel, and untiring devotion to duty, he organized and developed a most highly efficient organization of distribution, installation and repair of aviation ordnance material in Naval aircraft, in spite of the difficulties incident to the period of urgent Naval aircraft expansion…..”
He commanded USS Chandeleur until February 1944, and following duty as Chief of Staff to the Commander Carrier Division FIVE, assumed command in August 1944 of USS Gambier Bay. He was awarded the Navy Cross and is entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded Task Unit 77.4.3, of which the Gambier Bay was a part. The citations follow in part:
Navy Cross – “For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of the USS GAMBIER BAY….during the Battle off Samar, on October 25, 1944. When his ship sustained hits which destroyed an engine during an engagement with units of the hostile Fleet which were superior both in number and fire power, Captain Vieweg determinedly fought his ship and, although there was no possible chance of escape, continually exposed himself to fire from heavy enemy ships to employ the few weapons of his command….”
Presidential Unit Citation – “For extraordinary heroism in action against powerful units of the Japanese Fleet during the Battle off Samar, Philippines, October 25, 1944….. The courageous determination and the superb teamwork of the officers and men who fought the embarked planes and who manned the ships of Task Unit 77.4.3 were instrumental in effecting the retirement of a hostile force threatening our Leyte invasion operations…..”
The Gambier Bay was sunk during this action after receiving hits on the flight deck, in spaces above the waterline, in the forward engine room, in her number three boiler in the after engine room and in the pilot house. After the sinking of Gambier Bay, he returned to the United States, and in November 1944 was assigned to the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, DC. He remained there until February 1945, assuming command in March of USS Commencement Bay. In March 1946 he became Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Ordnance Test station, Chincoteague, Virginia, and between January and September 1949 commanded USS Kearsarge. Relieved of command of that aircraft carrier, he then reported as Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, California. In September 1952 he was ordered to duty as Commanding Fleet Air, Hawaii.
In addition to the Navy Cross, the Commendation Ribbon, and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Captain Vieweg had the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.