THEODORE E. CHANDLER, RADM, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Theodore Chandler '15

Date of birth: December 26, 1894

Date of death: January 7, 1945

Age: 50

Lucky Bag

From the 1915 Lucky Bag:


Loss

1915 Chandler 1.jpg

Ted was lost when a Japanese kamikaze aircraft struck his flagship, USS Louisville (CA 28), on January 6, 1945 in Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands. He died the next day January 7, 1945 from severely scorched lungs.

His wife, Beatrice, was listed as next of kin. He has a memorial marker in Arlington National Cemetery.

Biography

From Wikipedia:

Theodore Edson Chandler was born at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1894, on the day after Christmas, the son of Rear Admiral Lloyd Horwitz Chandler, USN, and Mrs. (Agatha Edson) Chandler. 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).

He attended Manlius School for Boys and Swavely's Army and Navy Preparatory School before his appointment to the United States Naval Academy for the Second District of New Hampshire in 1911. As a Midshipman he won letters in basketball and lacrosse. He graduated and was commissioned an Ensign on 4 June 1915. The new officer received orders to report for duty in the battleship Florida. Chandler next served briefly on board the battleship New Hampshire before beginning training in the use of torpedoes at the end of April 1917, on board Montana. On August 2, he completed that assignment and four days later joined the precommissioning complement of the destroyer Conner, then being fitted out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

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, 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 the battleship West Virginia. The battleship went into commission on 1 December, and Chandler served in her until 16 January 1925 when he transferred to the battleship Colorado.

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 followed. He reported on board the auxiliary vessel General Alava on April 24, 1929 but was detached only two days later to assume command of the destroyer Pope. 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 the destroyer Buchanan. 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 the light cruiser Nashville; 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.

Chandler relieved Capt. P. P. Powell as commanding officer of the light cruiser Omaha 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 the destroyer Somers, came across a darkened ship that acted suspiciously when challenged. That ship—although bearing the name Willmoto and purportedly operating out of Philadelphia—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.

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.

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 USS Louisville. 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 kamikazes 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 USS Louisville at her number No. 2 main battery 8-inch 55 caliber gun knocking it completely out of commission, but continued her bombarding mission and downed several planes. On January 6, 1945 the cruiser suffered more severely during a repeat performance. At 17:30, another kamikaze plunged into the cruiser's starboard side at the signal bridge where explosives wrought havoc. Rear Admiral Chandler jumped from the bridge to the signal bridge 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 January 7, 1945 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.

From Naval History and Heritage Command:

In addition to the Navy Cross, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star and the Commendation Ribbon, Rear Admiral Chandler had the Victory Medal, Destroyer Clasp; the Yangtze Service Medal; American Defense Service Medal with bronze "A;" American campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; and was entitled to the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal. He had also been awarded the Orden Nacional de Cruzeriro de Sul (grade of official) and diploma by the Government of Brazil, and the Legion of Honor (Officer) and diploma by the Government of France; and the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords (rank of Grand Officer) had been conferred upon him by Queen Wilholnina of The Netherlands.

Navy Cross

1915 Chandler 2.jpg

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Rear Admiral Theodore Edson Chandler (NSN: 0-9050), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commander, Cruiser Division FOUR, aboard the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. LOUISVILLE (CA-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands, on 6 January 1945. Skillfully coordinating the fire of his division with that of other heavy naval units during the initial bombardment of Luzon prior to scheduled landing operations at Lingayen, Rear Admiral Chandler ordered the smashing broadsides of his powerful guns with unrelenting aggressiveness despite a heavy overcast which reduced visibility and while under persistent attack by enemy aircraft. Observing the progress of operations from an exposed position on the flag bridge when a Japanese suicide bomber attacked and hit his cruiser, setting the flag bridge afire, he emerged from the raging inferno with his clothing ablaze. Determined to remain in action, he steadfastly continued to direct his units until compelled by his Chief of Staff to proceed to the dressing station for treatment of severe burns. Stout-hearted and indomitable in the face of almost certain death, Rear Admiral Chandler succumbed to his injuries the following day. By his inspiring devotion to duty and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout, he enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 344 (November 1945)
Service: Navy
Division: Cruiser Division 4 (Aboard the U.S.S. Louisville (CA-28)
Rank: Rear Admiral

Army Distinguished Service Medal

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal (Posthumously) to Rear Admiral Theodore Edson Chandler (NSN: 0-9050), United States Navy, for conspicuous service to the Army of the United States in the action supporting the return of United States Forces to the Island of Luzon. Through his outstanding gallantry and exceptional skill while in command of battleship division in support of landing operations during the Battle of Leyte Gulf and while later commanding a cruiser squadron in the battle of Lingayen Gulf, Admiral Chandler was an inspiration and example to the forces of both the Army and the Navy. By his effective cooperation he assisted materially in the solution of complex problems of joint operations and his death on 7 January 1945 from wounds received while leading his command in action constituted a severe loss. The services performed by Admiral Chandler represent a very material contribution to the fulfillment of the Philippine Campaign.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 7 (1945)
Service: Navy
Division: Cruiser Division 4 (Aboard the U.S.S. Louisville (CA-28)
Rank: Rear Admiral

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Rear Admiral Theodore Edson Chandler (NSN: 0-9050), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commander, Battleship Division TWO, in action against major units of the enemy Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Surigao Strait in the early hours of 25 October 1944. When a formidable column of Japanese warships entered the narrow confines of the Strait and advanced under cover of darkness toward our waiting forces, Rear Admiral Chandler, with his division placed among other battleships in the strategic T-formation across the northern end of Surigao, hurled the full power of his heavy guns at the confused enemy force. Directing the shattering broadsides of his mighty vessels with unrelenting fury, he waged fierce battle against the enemy in a prolonged engagement which resulted in the destruction of two Japanese battleships and three destroyers before effective return fire could be brought to bear on our ships. Subsequently retiring his division unscathed from the action, Rear Admiral Chandler, by his brilliant leadership, outstanding professional skill and indomitable fighting spirit in the face of tremendous odds, contributed materially to the defeat of the enemy in this decisive action and his undaunted courage throughout upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Service: Navy
Division: Battleship Division 2
Rank: Rear Admiral

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Legion of Merit to Rear Admiral Theodore Edson Chandler (NSN: 0-9050), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commander All Forces, Aruba-Curacao, from 27 April 1943 to 25 July 1944. Admiral Chandler exercised sound judgment and initiative in carrying out his many and varied tasks. He was largely responsible for the cooperative employment of U.S. and Netherlands naval and air forces in waging vigorous and effective warfare on enemy submarines. He displayed marked diplomatic ability in his contacts with Netherlands and Venezuelan civil and military officials.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 334 (January 1945)
Service: Navy
Rank: Rear Admiral

From Hall of Valor:

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Rear Admiral Theodore Edson Chandler (NSN: 0-9050), United States Navy, was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States during World War II.

General Orders: American Battle Monuments Commission
Service: Navy
Rank: Rear Admiral

Namesakes

USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD 717) was named for Ted; the ship was sponsored by his widow.

USS Chandler (DDG 996) was also named for Ted.


Class of 1915

Theodore is one of 18 members of the Class of 1915 in Memorial Hall.