We are very sorry to have to report the death earlier this month of Osprey author Tory Failmezger.


Victor ‘Tory’ Failmezger


Commander Victor ‘Tory’ Failmezger, USN Retired, (74) of Warren County, Virginia, passed away on July 2, 2021, after complications of heart failure. He was born in New Brunswick, NJ, in 1947, the third child of Victor Failmezger and Mary Elizabeth Welch and the stepson of Dr. Paul D. Sturkie, Professor Emeritus of Rutgers University, all now deceased. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Patricia A. Grant, their son Christian and daughter Victoria Matthews, and two grandsons. His is also survived by his sister, Stephanie Partilla of Huntington, Long Island. His brother, Robin Gregory, died in 2017.

Commander Failmezger grew up in New Jersey and graduated from East Brunswick High School class of 1965. He was active in track and played drums in the high school band and orchestra. He was an Eagle Scout, BSA and Chief of Sakawawin Lodge Number 287 Order of the Arrow. For five summers he worked as a Boy Scout Camp Counselor at the Sakawawin Scout Reservation in Branchville, New Jersey.

He graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1969 with a degree in History. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. After his junior year, he spent the summer touring the major cities of Europe and that started his lifelong infatuation with the continent. Upon graduation and subject to the US Military Draft, he enlisted in the US Navy.

He was first stationed at the NATO Base in Naples, Italy, where in his off time he joined the Archaeological Team of Dr. R. F. Paget and worked on the ancient Roman road system north of Naples and the Oracle of the Dead at Baia.

In Italy, he met and married Patricia Grant of Council Bluffs, Iowa, a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the US Navy Nurse Corps stationed at the US Naval Hospital, Naples. Their son Christian was born in Naples.

While in Italy, Failmezger earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Boston University, Naples, Italy campus.

Selected to attend Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, he was commissioned an Ensign, Special Duty Intelligence in April 1974. His first major assignment was to Attack Squadron VA-56, embarked on USS Midway and homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, where their daughter Victoria was born. Most notable was his participation in Operation Frequent Wind, the emergency evacuation of Saigon in 1975. Patricia and Victor traveled much of the Far East and spent several months living with the children at Cubi Point, Republic of the Philippines. A highpoint was a 1975 port visit to Karachi, Pakistan, and a visit to the Khyber Pass.

The next assignment was at a US Naval Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland. Because of some innovative analytical work, the then Lieutenant Failmezger was appointed the Special Assistant to Rear Admiral Sumner Shapiro, the Director of Naval Intelligence, and a Pentagon Aide to then Rear Admiral E.A. Burkhalter, Jr. the Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence.

His next assignment was Rome, Italy, where he served for three years as the Assistant Naval Attaché. It was Patricia’s and his favorite assignment. Back in the States, he joined Commander Carrier Group Eight and was embarked on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVAN-69) and the USS Nimitz (CVAN-68). Additionally, he was part of the first staff to embark aboard the USS Iowa (BB-61) since World War II.

Following German language training in California, he was assigned as Director US Naval Science and Technical Unit, Munich, Germany. There he conducted naval intelligence information exchange with NATO Naval Allies, sought out innovative technologies and was often called to travel to East Berlin to exercise US Navy rights to enter that city. He took his family to visit Berlin before the fall of the Communism and the Berlin Wall.

His final Navy assignment was at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, DC, where he directed a team evaluating bomb damage inflicted during Operation Desert Storm.

Over the course of his 22 years in Naval Service, Commander Failmezger was awarded eight personal decorations including two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, and other commendation and achievement medals.

Entering civilian life, he worked for several small consulting companies bringing European technology to the United States and export US Technology to Europe. He was active with the US Department of Energy to transfer government developed technologies to the private sector and worked with NASA on Satellite Remote Sensing technology transfer issues. During this period he was featured speaker at international conferences in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Qatar. He also made a preliminary site visit for a World Bank International Water Forum in Dalian, China.

At the same time, he assisted Patricia with her architectural salvage business, Architectural Old House Parts of Front Royal, Virginia. Growing out of the experience he supervised their recreation of Thomas Jefferson’s private house, Poplar Forest in Warren Country.

For four years he served as a Planning Commissioner in Warren County, Virginia.

Commander Failmezger wrote and published six books. Most notably were American Knights: The Untold Story of the Men of the Legendary 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion and Rome – City in Terror: the Nazi Occupation 194344, published by Osprey. In the course of writing both of these books, he and Patricia traveled to Europe on numerous occasions, sometimes taking the rest of the family with them. He was a long-time member of the Ancient Numismatic Society of Washington and moderated two international numismatic conferences in York, England. 

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PAUL W posted on 1 Aug 2021 18:24:39
From the obituary, he certainly lead a very interesting life. Enjoyed the Rome book, very well written. Condolences to the family.

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