It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our dear friend and shipmate, retired Lieutenant Commander Terry Wilton, 68, on 15 January 2024 in Columbia, Maryland. Terry had been NIP’s Executive Director since January 2009—a position Vice Admiral (Ret) Jake Jacoby revived during his tenure as chairman, and one for which Jacoby specifically recruited Terry.
As the NIP Executive Director, Terry was the face of every NIP luncheon over the past 15 years. He was most often the first to arrive and the last to leave, setting up for the luncheons, working the registration table, and managing the NIP ship store. He had an infectious positive attitude that set the tone and permeated all NIP gatherings. A humble servant-leader, Terry worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure everything ran smoothly. He made it look easy and effortless—we know it wasn't. In addition to his significant contributions to the national leadership team for five consecutive NIP chairs and six NIP presidents, Terry also served as the treasurer for the DC NIP chapter.
Terry graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1977. Upon commissioning, he served as a naval aviator for two years and then as an intelligence officer for 15 years, retiring in 1994. Upon commissioning, he entered flight training and received his NFO wings in the spring of 1978. Initially assigned to training in the A-6E Intruder at Attack Squadron VA-128 in Whidbey Island, Washington, he requested and was granted a change of designator to Restricted Line–Special Duty Intelligence (1630).
Terry’s sea tours included two overseas deployments with Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron VAQ-134 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN-68) (including involvement in a movie called The Final Countdown and the 1980 Operation Eagle Claw Iranian hostage rescue attempt); one partial deployment with VAQ-134 aboard USS Constellation (CV-64); and two overseas deployments as the Air Wing 17 (CVW-17) Intelligence Officer aboard USS Saratoga (CV-60).
His shore tours included three years on the watch floor at the Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office in Suitland, Maryland; one year at the then-Defense Intelligence College (at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.) where he earned a master’s degree in strategic intelligence; three years at the International Programs Office at Commander Naval Intelligence Command in Suitland, two years at the CIA (liaison officer at Project TSUNAMI), and a split tour in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii as officer-in-charge of the Office of Naval Intelligence’s (ONI’s) Pacific Forward Support Team, and then as the special programs manager in the N2 division at the headquarters of the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in Pearl Harbor.
Upon retirement in 1994, Terry continued his service as a contractor and career Naval Intelligence officer, contributing immeasurably to our nation's security. He worked as a contractor at Suitland, supporting the Maritime Systems Program Management Office (MSPMO – ONI-34) for 14 years (1995–2009) as the mission planner, and then the Special Platforms Division (ONI-N312) from 2009–2022 as the logistics coordinator.
Terry is survived by his former wife Sarah, his sons Matthew and Michael, and his granddaughters Grace and Riley.
He was a mainstay at all NIP functions and will be missed and mourned by many.
His memorial service will be held on Monday, 29 January 2024 at 11:00 AM at the Everly Funeral Home (6161 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044). (Official obitiuary)