Theodore E. Chandler

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Theodore Edson Chandler
Theodore E. Chandler.jpg
Born (1894-12-26)December 26, 1894
Annapolis, Maryland
Died January 7, 1945(1945-01-07) (aged 50)
KIA in the Pacific theatre
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1915-1945
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held USS Conner
USS Pope
USS Buchanan
USS Omaha
Battleship Division 2
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Navy Cross, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Purple Heart
Relations Father of Theodora Edson Chandler
Grandson of William E. Chandler
Grandson of Lucy Lambert Hale
Great-grandson of John Parker Hale

Theodore Edson Chandler (December 26, 1894 – January 7, 1945) was an admiral of the United States Navy during World War II, who commanded battleship and cruiser divisions in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. He was killed in action when Japanese kamikaze aircraft struck his flagship.

Early life and career[edit]

Theodore Edson Chandler was born at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1894 on the day after Christmas. He was the grandson of William E. Chandler (1835–1917) who served as Secretary of the Navy during the Chester A. Arthur administration and a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire and Lucy Lambert Hale (1841–1915).[1]

He entered the United States Naval Academy in July 1911, and graduated on 5 June 1915. The new officer received orders to report for duty in the battleship Florida (BB-30). Ensign Chandler next served briefly on board New Hampshire (BB-25) beginning training in the use of torpedoes at the end of April 1917. On August 2, he completed that assignment and, four days later, joined the precommissioning complement of the destroyer Conner (DD-72), then being fitted out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

World War I and interwar years[edit]

In May 1918, Lieutenant junior grade Chandler sailed in Conner to Brest, France, his destroyer's base during the last six months of World War I. After the Armistice, his service in European waters included a brief term as the temporary commanding officer of Conner.

Chandler returned home in April and, in the following month, reported to the shipyard of the William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Co. to help outfit the destroyer Chandler (DD-206), named in honor of his late grandfather, former Secretary of the Navy William E. Chandler. After her commissioning in September, he served in that ship until December 1920, when he was detached to return to the United States.

On January 2, 1921, he reported for duty at the Naval Postgraduate School at Annapolis, Maryland, and began a 29-month series of ordnance-related studies. On June 1, 1923, he completed training duty and, after a brief leave of absence, reported to Newport News, Virginia, on July 4 for duty in conjunction with the outfitting of West Virginia (BB-48). The battleship went into commission on 1 December, and Chandler served in her until 16 January 1925 when he transferred to Colorado (BB-45).

In June 1926, newly promoted Lt. Comdr. Chandler came ashore once more for a two-year assignment at the Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown, Virginia. A nine-month tour of duty as gunnery officer in the light cruiser Trenton (CL-11) followed. He reported on board General Alava (AG-5) on April 24, 1929 but was detached only two days later to assume command of Pope (DD-225). In October 1930, he began another series of shore assignments, reporting initially to the Bureau of Ordnance and then to the Army Industrial College before rounding out duty ashore with a brief tour in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

On May 30, 1932, Chandler resumed sea duty as gunnery officer on the staff of the Commander Destroyers Battle Force. On February 2, 1934, he assumed command of Buchanan (DD-131). Between August 1935 and June 1938, he served three successive tours as assistant naval attaché: first at Paris, then at Madrid, and finally at Lisbon.

He arrived in Camden, New Jersey, in June 1938 to help fit out Nashville (CL-43); and he served as her executive officer until July 1940. Next, he returned to Washington, D.C. for a 15-month assignment in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Near the end of that tour of duty, he was promoted to captain on July 18, 1941.

World War II[edit]

Atlantic campaigns[edit]

Chandler relieved Capt. P. P. Powell as commanding officer of Omaha (CL-4) on October 15. Shortly over three weeks later, an event occurred that highlighted Chandler's tour in command of the light cruiser.

On the morning of November 6, 1941, Omaha, in company with Somers (DD-381), came across a darkened ship that acted suspiciously when challenged. That ship—although bearing the name Willmoto and purportedly operating out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—proved to be the German blockade runner Odenwald, bound for Germany with 3,857 metric tons of raw rubber in her holds. Scuttled by her crew, the German ship began to sink; but Capt. Chandler sent a party on the German vessel that controlled the flooding and salvaged the ship. It proved to be the last time that American sailors received prize money.[citation needed]

For most of the next 18 months, Omaha cruised the waters of the South Atlantic in search of German blockade runners and submarines. That tour of duty ended in April 1943, when Chandler was selected to command United States naval forces in the Aruba-Curaçao area. On May 3, 1944, he was promoted to rear admiral. In July 1944, Rear Admiral Chandler took command of Cruiser Division 2 (CruDiv 2), Atlantic Fleet. In that capacity, he participated in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France in mid-August, and commanded the "Sitka-Romeo" force which captured the Iles d'Hyeres just off the coast of Provence.

Pacific campaigns[edit]

Shortly thereafter, Rear Admiral Chandler was given command of Battleship Division 2 (BatDiv 2) of the Pacific Fleet.

He reported for duty on October 2 in time to command his ships — part of Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's bombardment group — during the Leyte invasion and helped to repulse the Japanese southern attack group—Vice Admirals Shoji Nishimura's Force “C” and Kiyohide Shima's 2d Striking Force—in the Surigao Strait phase of the Battle for Leyte Gulf.

On December 8, 1944, Rear Admiral Chandler was shifted to command of CruDiv 4 and flew his flag above Louisville (CA-28). During the voyage from Leyte to Lingayen for the invasion of Luzon, Chandler's cruisers came under heavy Japanese air attacks—mostly by kamikazes.

Late in the afternoon of January 5, 1945, a group of sixteen suicide planes swooped in on the force then about 100 miles (200 km) from Manila Bay. One of the four successful kamikazes crashed into Rear Admiral Chandler's flagship at her number 2 turret, but she continued in her mission. The next day, however, the cruiser suffered more severely during a repeat performance. At 17:30, another suicide plane plunged into the cruiser's starboard side at the bridge. His explosives wrought havoc with the flag bridge where Chandler stood. Even though horribly burned by gasoline flames, Chandler helped deploy fire hoses alongside enlisted men to stop the flames and then waited his turn for first aid with those same ratings. The admiral, his lungs scorched very severely, was beyond help. He died the next day in spite of the efforts of the medical department. Admiral Chandler is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila Philippines National Cemetery

Namesakes[edit]

Two ships in the U.S. Navy have been named after Chandler. In October 1945, the destroyer USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717) was named in his honor. In 1983, Kidd Class guided missile destroyer USS Chandler was named after him.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill O'Reilly,"Killing Lincoln" p.285-286, 2011
  • O'Reilly, Bill (2011). Killing Lincoln. Henry Holt and Company, New York.