Admiral Thomas Wetmore exemplified everything the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Annual Ethics Forum teaches young leaders and, as of this year, this academic mainstay now bears his name: THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ACADEMY ADMIRAL THOMAS WETMORE ANNUAL ETHICS FORUM.
The 23rd Annual Ethics Forum was dedicated to the memory of Admiral Thomas T Wetmore III, who with his Class of ’48 classmates recognized the need to focus on ethics in government, addressed this need to the Academy, and recommended a forum for the corps to discuss ethical issues. Since the first forum in 1990, Admiral Wetmore has been central to its success and each year he would write his classmates that it was “always getting better.” Admiral Wetmore was actively engaged in all 22 forums, and he watched them grow from small groups of cadets meeting with a limited endowment to a corps-wide program with two substantial endowments that support the forum. When Admiral Wetmore asked the Class of ’57 to join them in endowing the Ethics Forum, they were honored to do so.
Admiral Wetmore served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 33 years and retired as the Fifth Coast Guard District Commander in Virginia in 1981. Among his many assignments, Admiral Wetmore served at the Academy as a Professional Studies instructor and the Assistant Superintendent. His service awards included the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, and Coast Guard Commendation Medal with Gold Star. Admiral Wetmore always had a concern for the education, training and welfare of his subordinates and their families.
A native New Londoner, Admiral Wetmore returned home in 1981 to be with his large family. He served as a Trustee of the Bulkeley Scholarship Trust, and on the Board of Directors of the Waterford Country School and the Visiting Nurses Association of Southeastern Connecticut. He and his wife were long time members of the Second Congregational Church. As a New London Rotarian, Admiral Wetmore organized and administered five international humanitarian matching grant projects in Colombia and Nicaragua. In recognition of his service to the Rotary Club and community he was awarded a Paul Harris Distinguished Service Fellowship and a Carl Wies Club Service Award.
In June of 1983, Wetmore was appointed Executive Director of the newly established Pequot Community Foundation, the first publicly endowed grant making foundation in Southeastern Connecticut. He and his wife as assistant, served as the founding staff for the foundation for eight years. Together they planted the seeds of the present-day Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut, which has grown into a vital source of charitable funding in the local area, nurturing it during its formative stages, and being instrumental in its continued development.
Admiral Wetmore was an active member of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association and he coordinated his Class of 1948 five year reunions. In 1983, he was inducted into the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1998 he was presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his achievement as Executive Director of the Pequot Community Foundation.
Everyone who knew Tom Wetmore will miss him. He was everything that the Ethics Forum teaches – a leader of character.