|Born||26 Dec 1894|
|Died||7 Jan 1945|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseTheodore Edson "Ted" Chandler was born in Annapolis, Maryland, United States, on 26 Dec 1894, the son of Rear Admiral Lloyd Horwitz Chandler, United States Navy, and Agatha Edson Chandler. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1915. He initially served aboard battleships and then destroyers during World War I, rising through both grades of Lieutenant. In 1920, he served as executive officer aboard the destroyer USS Chandler, named for his grandfather, William Eaton Chandler, who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1882 to 1886 under President Chester A. Arthur.
ww2dbaseUpon his return to the United States, Chandler taught at the Naval Postgraduate School at Annapolis, Maryland, and also the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. After a brief assignment with the Bureau of Ordnance, he returned to battleship duty in USS West Virginia and then USS Colorado before promotion to Lieutenant Commander and serving two years at the Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown, Virginia. His next assignment was as gunnery officer aboard the cruiser USS Trenton before taking command of destroyer USS Pope which operated on Yangtze Patrol in China. After tours in the Office of Naval Operations and Commander Destroyers, Battle Force, he went to sea again as Commanding Officer of destroyer USS Buchanan.
ww2dbaseAfter more duty with the Office of Naval Operations, Chandler was then assigned to the American Embassies in Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon as Assistant US Naval Attaché. During these assignments, he was promoted to full Commander. His next duty at sea was as the executive officer of the newly outfitted cruiser USS Nashville, a position he held for two years.
ww2dbaseAfter another year in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and a promotion to Captain, Chandler returned to sea in Oct 1941 as Commanding Officer of the cruiser USS Omaha, engaged at the time in enforcing the Neutrality Patrols in the South Atlantic. On 6 Nov 1941, Omaha and 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 from Japan with 3,857 metric tons of raw rubber. The crew attempted to scuttle the ship but Captain Chandler acted quickly and sent a party aboard that controlled the flooding and salvaged the ship. Odenwald was seized and taken to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although not fully settled until 1947, this seizure proved to be the last time that United States Navy sailors were awarded prize money. For his actions, Captain Chandler received a formal Letter of Commendation. Chandler remained in command of Omaha after war was declared, still sailing the South Atlantic, and was detached in Feb 1943.
ww2dbaseChandler was then promoted to Rear Admiral and placed in command of all United States and Netherlands Naval Surface Forces and United States Naval and Army Air Forces engaged in anti-submarine activities in the Aruba-Curaçao area of the Netherlands East Indies. For his execution of that command, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
ww2dbaseIn July 1944, Rear Admiral Chandler took command of Cruiser Division 2 of the Atlantic Fleet and led that division in Operation Dragoon, the Aug 1944 invasion of southern France. For this campaign, he was awarded his second Legion of Merit.
ww2dbaseIn early Oct 1944, Rear Admiral Chandler assumed command of Battleship Division 2 of the Pacific Fleet consisting of battleships Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania attached to Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf's bombardment group during the Leyte invasion operations. Chandler's battleship division, under Oldendorf's direction, was instrumental in repulsing the Japanese southern attack group in the Surigao Strait.
ww2dbaseOn 8 Dec 1944, Rear Admiral Chandler assumed command of Cruiser Division 4 and flew his flag from USS Louisville in preparation for the invasion of the Philippine island of Luzon. From his days at Annapolis and throughout his career, Chandler remained very athletic and fitness conscious so crewmen aboard Louisville became accustomed to seeing the admiral running along the decks in his shorts nearly every morning.
ww2dbaseDuring the voyage from Leyte to Lingayen Gulf for the pre-invasion bombardment, Chandler's cruisers came under heavy air attacks. Late in the afternoon of 5 Jan 1945, a group of sixteen Japanese special attack aircraft swooped in on the force. One of the planes crashed into Louisville's number No. 2 main battery completely knocking it out of commission. Louisville continued with her shore bombardment mission, however, and downed several airplanes. The following day, the cruiser suffered more severely during a repeat attack. Late in the day, another special attack aircraft plunged into the cruiser's starboard side at the signal bridge where explosions and flaming gasoline wrought havoc. Though burned by the fires and with his clothes still aflame, Rear Admiral Chandler jumped from the bridge to the signal bridge where he helped deploy fire hoses alongside the enlisted men. Once the fires were contained, he reported to sick bay for treatment but waited for his turn with those same enlisted men. The admiral, however, his lungs severely scorched, was beyond help. He died the next day 7 Jan 1945 almost 24 hours to the minute after the attack, just two weeks after his 50th birthday. Rear Admiral Chandler was buried at sea the next day along with a member of his staff who also succumbed to wounds sustained in the same attack.
ww2dbaseTheodore Chandler was married to Beatrice Bowen Fairfax Chandler and they had one daughter born in 1922, Theodora Edson Chandler.
ww2dbaseTo date, two United States Navy ships have been named in Chandler's honor. In Oct 1945, the Gearing-class destroyer USS Theodore E. Chandler was named for him and sponsored by his wife. In Mar 1982, the Kidd-class guided missile destroyer USS Chandler was also named for him.
ww2dbaseThe list of Theodore Chandler's decorations and awards include:
The Navy Cross (posthumously),
the Silver Star (posthumously),
the Legion of Merit with Gold Star,
the Purple Heart (posthumously),
the Navy Commendation Medal,
the World War I Victory Medal with Destroyer Clasp,
the Yangtze Service Medal,
the American Defense Service Medal with bronze 'A',
the American campaign Medal,
the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Battle Star (Southern France),
the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Battle Stars (Leyte, Luzon),
the World War II Victory Medal,
the Philippine Presidential Citation,
the Philippine Liberation Medal with one bronze star,
the Orden Nacional de Cruzeriro de Sul (Brazil),
the Légion d'Honneur (France), and
the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords conferred upon him by Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands.
United States Navy
United States Naval Academy
United States National Archives
USS Louisville veteran Enrico Trotta
The New York Times
Last Major Revision: May 2020
Theodore Chandler Timeline
|26 Dec 1894||Theodore E. Chandler was born in Annapolis, Maryland, United States.|
|6 Nov 1941||Captain Theodore E. Chandler commanding cruiser USS Omaha seized German blockade runner Odenwald in the South Atlantic on her way to Germany from Japan with 3,857 metric tons of raw rubber.|
|6 Jan 1945||US Navy Rear Admiral Theodore Chandler was severely injured after being drenched in flaming gasoline when the cruiser USS Louisville was struck by a Japanese kamikaze special attack during the pre-assault bombardment off Lingayen Gulf in the Philippine Islands.|
|7 Jan 1945||Rear Admiral Theodore E. Chandler died aboard USS Louisville from wounds sustained the day before in an aerial special attack against the ship.|
|8 Jan 1945||Rear Admiral Theodore E. Chandler was buried at sea from the deck of USS Louisville after being killed in an aerial special attack two days earlier.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939