Military Biography


Addressing the Naval Officers Association of British Columbia in Vancouver on U.S. Navy operations in Vietnam.

Addressing the Naval Officers Association of British Columbia in Vancouver on U.S. Navy operations in Vietnam.

Captain Dwight H. Merriam, U.S. Navy, Surface Warfare (retired), entered Naval Service in July 1968 and graduated from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in March 1969.  He then attended communication school and the non-lawyer judge advocate general course, ultimately reporting to his ship, the USS KAWISHIWI (AO-146), a fleet replenishment oiler, in Vietnam in September 1969.  He completed that tour with the ship and participated in two other deployments to Vietnam aboard KAWISHIWI totaling 17 months in the war zone.  He served as the ship’s communications officer and assistant operations officer, and also was an officer of the deck, command duty officer, officer the deck for replenishment operations, and general quarters officer of the deck.  In 1971 he augmented to the regular Navy from the reserves.

In 1972 Captain Merriam was ordered to the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he served as the Senior Advisor and Instructor, and later Assistant Professor of Naval Science, teaching a graduate and undergraduate course in Defense Administration and Military Management for civilian and military students in the University’s interdisciplinary Peace, War, and Defense Curriculum.

In 1975, after seven years of active duty Captain Merriam, resigned his regular commission and left active duty to pursue his law degree at Yale.  He began his 24-year career in the reserves serving in various units and billets, among them training units and shipboard units including USS FULTON (AS-11) stationed at the State Pier in New London, where he served as operations Officer and then Executive Officer.  As a Commander he was selected to be the Commanding Officer of Personnel Mobilization Team 101 based in Providence, Rhode Island, responsible for the mobilization of approximately 80,000 Navy reservists and retirees from New England.

Captain Merriam was then assigned to Naval Ship Research Center 101, which is the reserve augmentation unit for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, with a laboratory in New London, Connecticut and facilities in Keyport, Washington, and Andros Island in the Bahamas.  He served as Executive Officer.  Following his promotion to Captain, he was selected to be the Commanding Officer.  In that capacity he oversaw the research and development of undersea warfare and weapons and maintained the unit's preparedness to augment their active-duty counterparts in the event of a mobilization.  He served in that capacity through the Gulf War.

Following his Naval Undersea Warfare Center command, Captain Merriam served in various capacities assisting NUWC in special projects until his retirement in 1999 after 31 years of service.

Captain Merriam is a qualified Surface Warfare Officer and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for his Vietnam service, the Navy “E” Ribbon for battle efficiency aboard FULTON, the National Defense Service Medal with a bronze service star for two periods of service, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for operations off North Korea, the Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze service stars for his multiple deployments to Vietnam, the Navy Reserve Sea Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960’s device.