Notable People

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Vice Admiral Mark A. Whalen


Mark Alexander Whalen was born on October 8, 1913, at Washington, D.C., where he attended Central High School for three years.  He was graduated from West Side High School, Newark, N.J in 1930, after which he returned to Washington to attend the Emerson Institute and Georgetown University.

He was appointed a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, at New London, Conn., on August 4, 1933.  While attending the Academy he was on the baseball team for three years and on the football team for four years, serving as Captain during his last year.  He was graduated from the Academy and commissioned an Ensign in the Coast Guard on September 21, 1937.

He served his earliest assignments in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Coast Guard Cutters Saranac, Tampa, and Nike.  He was executive officer of the latter and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) in September 1940.

He next served as training officer on board the Maritime Service Training Ship Empire State from July 1941 to August 1942, at which time the Coast Guard function of training maritime personnel was turned back to the Maritime Service.  He was advanced to Lieutenant during the assignment.

After serving a year and a half as Executive Officer of the Candidate for Reserve Commission School, at the Coast Guard Academy, and being promoted to Lieutenant Commander, he took command of the Cutter Modoc.  He served on convoy escort duty between Greenland and North America, and on ice patrol in the North Atlantic, from March 1944 to July 1945.

As World War II ended, he became Executive Officer of the Coast Guard Training Station at Alameda, Ca.  He subsequently received a Letter of Commendation for performing complex duties in connection with the demobilization and replacement programs in the Pacific from September 1945 to April 1946.

By July 1946, Lieutenant Commander Whalen was stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., where he served as Chief, Personnel Procurement Section and Assistant Chief, Training and Procurement Division, during the next four years.  He was promoted to the rank of Commander in February 1950, and six months later took command of the Cutter Humboldt, out of Boston, on weather patrol duty in the North Atlantic.  In July 1952 he returned to Coast Guard Headquarters to serve as Assistant Chief, Reserve Division for four years.

Next, he commanded the Cutter Androscoggin, out of Miami, from August 1956 to August 1958.  During that period the Cutter made the Campeche Patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, patrolling the shrimp fleet, and performed a special mission to several South American and Caribbean countries in connection with the improvement of LORAN.  In addition the vessel conducted reserve training cruises and was involved with a number of rescue operations.

After completing a year of studies at the Naval War College, the newly promoted Captain Whalen became Chief of the Liaison Division and Congressional Liaison Officer under the Chief of Staff at Coast Guard Headquarters.  He received the Coast Guard Commendation Medal for “meritorious achievement in the performance of his duties” in coordination of Coast Guard matters with offices in Congress, Treasury, Defense and other government agencies, during his four years in that post.

In August 1963 he became Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center at Yorktown, Virginia.  The main missions of this command are the operation of the Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School, and the year around training of officers and enlisted men in the Coast Guard Reserve.

In August 1965, Captain Whalen was assigned as Chief, Operations Division, Third Coast Guard District in New York.

Captain Whalen was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, by nomination of the President and approval of the Senate, on July 1, 1966.  At the time he was assigned to Coat Guard Headquarters as the Coast Guard representative on the Executive Task Force, working on legislation for the proposed new Department of Transportation.  He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his achievements in that position.

Rear Admiral Whalen was designated Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard in August 1966.  He served at that post until June 1968 when he assumed the dual role as Commander of the Coast Guard’s Eastern Area and Commander of the Third Coast Guard District.

Two years later he was transferred to San Francisco where he became Commander of the Western Area and of the Twelfth Coast Guard District.  A 1972 amendment to the U.S. Code changed the titles of the Coast Guard’s two areas from Eastern and Western to Atlantic and Pacific, and increased the ranks of their commanders to Vice Admirals.  Admiral Whalen was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral on October 14, 1972.

He is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. John T. Whalen, and is married to the former Helene R. of Old Lyme, Conn.  They have two daughters, Susan Alice and Laura Louise.

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