John Joseph "Jack" Spittler was born on the western plains of Nebraska November 8, 1918. Armed with a BS from the University of Nebraska he joined the Army Air Force flight training program in 1940 and upon completion served with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Transferring to the U.S. Navy in January 1942, Jack was assigned as Recognition and Personnel Officer on the staff of the first Fletcher class destroyer squadron commissioned. All nine ships were assigned to the Pacific Theatre of Operations but only three returned.
Participating in 13 major Pacific engagements, his ship the USS Nicholas (DD449) became the most highly decorated fighting ship in Naval History and was granted by Admiral "Bull" Halsey the high honor of transferring Japanese dignitaries to the Battleship Missouri for signing of the peace treaty ending World War II.
Upon his Navy discharge in November 1945, Jack enrolled at Ohio State University where he earned a Bachelor of Law and a Juris Doctor degree. He became a loyal Ohio Buckeye but never lost his love for the Navy.
He helped found and became president of the Columbus Ohio Council of the Navy League which grew to more than 800 members. Subsequently he became state president, regional president, national vice-president and from 1979-1981 he was National President of the Navy League of the United States. At age 85 he inaugurated the Greater Chattanooga Navy League Council (named in his honor) spurring its membership to more than 200 in less than three years. He was a life member of the Navy League, Tin Can Sailors, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Ohio State and University of Nebraska Alumni Associations, Delta Theta Phi Legal fraternity, Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge, a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary, and had a lifetime committment to education.
Jack held numerous awards and commendations including the Bronze Star for Valor, Commendation Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Asiatic Pacific Theatre ribbon with two silver and three bronze stars, Philippine Liberation Combat Action Ribbon with 13 battle stars, Meritorious and Distinguished Navy Public Service awards. and the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award.
His civilian recognition included Honorary Admiral of Texas, Georgia, Nebraska and New Mexico navies; colonel and aide-de-camp of Tennessee's Governor's staff; and recipient of the Ohio State Centennial Award of Appreciation.
Jack's wife of almost 62 years, Mary Jane Brannon died in 2004. In honor of Mary Jane, Jack established the "Mary Jane Spittler Heathcare Scholarship Fund." Jack passed away March 22, 2018, and was buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery along with his wife. Jack is survived by his two sons - John, Jr., and James - both law school graduates; two daughters - Mary Jane (husband William) Freutel and Cozette (Husband Dr. Allen) Mitchell; seven grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.