Al Wellman is a former US Naval line officer. He enrolled in the University of New Mexico NROTC program shortly before the 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident. As a midshipman, he cruised aboard USS Coontz (DLG-9) following it's return from the Tonkin Gulf in the summer of 1965, and aboard USS America (CVA-66) in the Mediterranean after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. He was commissioned with a BS in chemical engineering and sent to Mare Island naval shipyard guided missile school in 1969. He spent three years, including six Tonkin Gulf PIRAZ patrols, aboard USS Chicago (CG-11); and was secondary battery officer during Chicago's support of the Haiphong mining operation where Chief Larry Nowell established his reputation as Red Crown's CAP controller.
Following Chicago's return for shipyard overhaul in 1972, Al taught naval history, engineering, and weapons systems classes at the University of Illinois NROTC while he completed course work for an MS in environmental engineering.
Al's father had been a US Naval amphibious warfare officer during the second world war. He trained with the early underwater demolition teams at Fort Pierce, Florida, before serving as Commodore Edgar's staff intelligence officer during the invasions of Sicily and Salerno. He then supported General MacArthur's operations along the north coast of New Guinea as XO of the LCM flotilla, and subsequently served as assistant flag secretary to Admiral Barbey during invasion of the Phillipines.
Al was fascinated by his father's combat stories and then by the stories of his NROTC commanding officers. CO Robert Basset had been gunnery officer aboard USS Pope (DD-225) during the valiant struggle of the United States Asiatic Fleet. CO Tony Schneider had been an SBD pilot of bombing squadron 6 aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6) from the opening attack on Pearl Harbor through the battle of Midway.
Al is happily married to the daughter of
a PhD physicist who devoted three decades to US Navy SONAR research and
development after serving as XO of the first SOSUS station.