USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717) - Korean War

Korean War

When the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950, Theodore E. Chandler was operating out of San Diego. She spent another nine days at sea; then joined Helena (CA-75) and the rest of Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 111 to form the first unit dispatched from the west coast to the new Asian conflict. After brief stops at Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka, she arrived in Sasebo on 25 July.

A brief conference held there organized the various support and escort forces into Task Force (TF) 96. Theodore E. Chandler became a unit of Task Group (TG) 96.5, the Japan-Korea Support Group, made up of an escort element, a west Korean supporting element, and two east Korean support elements. DesDiv 111, with Helena as flagship, made up one of the rotating, east Korean support elements. On the 26th, the unit departed Sasebo and shaped a course for Korea to conduct shore bombardments in support of United Nations (UN) land forces. En route, however, the task element received orders changing its destination to the Taiwan Strait. Chandler and her sister warships completed their mission in the narrow waters separating Taiwan from communist-controlled mainland China and headed for Japan on 2 August. The ships reached Sasebo on the 4th and departed again three days later. Finally, on 7 August, they took up station off the Korean coast.

Initially, they delivered gunfire to relieve the pressure upon the northeastern end of the Pusan perimeter. During her first assignment, Theodore E. Chandler steamed to Yongdok to bombard supply lines running south along the coast, bypassing the ROK 3d Division isolated at Chongha, and on toward Pohang where UN lines ended at the Sea of Japan. On 14 August, the destroyer joined Helena near Sinchang, when the two ships destroyed a North Korean supply train and damaged several bridges and tunnels. By the following day, North Korean pressure on the Chongha enclave had become so intense that Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker evacuated the ROK 3d Division by sea. While shipping for the evacuation assembled, the situation at Chongha continued to deteriorate, but the 3d Division relied upon the gunfire delivered by Chandler and the other ships of the Helena task element to hold back North Korean forces. Even after the carrier planes arrived on the afternoon of the 16th and started close support, the destroyer and her sisters continued to help Helena support the ROK forces during the two more days it took to complete the evacuation.

On the 18th, she retired from the Korean coast with the rest of the Helena group and set course for Japan. The task element reached Sasebo that same day but on the 23rd returned to Korean waters. The next day, Chandler and the other destroyers of DesDiv 111 helped Helena bombard the railroad cars and warehouses at Tanchon. On the 26th, the task element arrived off Pohang to relieve the Toledo (CA-133) unit in supporting the northeastern end of the UN line. The warships remained in that area with Helena until 29 August when they returned to Sasebo for an overnight stopover and, the next day, resumed station off Pohang. After three days off the east coast of Korea, the destroyer reentered Sasebo on 2 September. Ten days later, she headed for the western coast of Korea and the amphibious operation at Inchon.

For almost a month, she cruised the waters of the Yellow Sea. She helped soften the positions until the landings on 15 September and, after that, covered the amphibious forces and conducted bombardments which aided the troops ashore in advancing. Early in October, she completed her mission in the Yellow Sea and returned to Sasebo on the 5th. During the next two months, she operated along Korea's eastern coast, interdicting communist supply lines with gunfire. Early in December, she made a brief stop at Sasebo before beginning a month of duty on station off Hungnam. During the evacuation of UN troops from that North Korean port, Theodore E. Chandler once again had the opportunity to aid land forces—hard-pressed since the intervention of communist China in late November—to hold a precarious perimeter during an evacuation operation. Theodore E. Chandler remained in the general neighborhood for an additional two weeks.

Between 8 January and 19 January 1951, she returned to Sasebo and enjoyed her first extended period in port in over three months. When the destroyer put to sea again, she began screening the fast carriers of TF 77. For the two months of combat duty before she returned to the United States, the warship alternated between bombardment duty and assignments with the fast carriers. On 9 March, she cleared Korean waters to return home; and, after one-day stops at Yokosuka, Pearl Harbor, and San Francisco, the destroyer arrived back in San Diego on 25 March.

Theodore E. Chandler returned to Korea for a second tour of duty during the winter of 1951 and 1952. She served with both TF 77, screening the carriers, and with the UN Blockading and Escort Force (TF 95). The latter duty proved to be more variegated because it involved blockade duty, escort duty, and frequent coastal bombardment missions. Short tours of duty patrolling the Taiwan Strait, visits to Japan, and liberty calls at Hong Kong all served to break up her long stretches of service along the Korean coast.

Her third and final Korean War deployment lasted from January to mid-August 1953 and, with it, came more of the same type of duty she encountered during the preceding assignment. That tour also brought an end to the hostilities when both sides agreed to an armistice. The destroyer remained in the vicinity of Korea for three weeks after hostilities officially ended and then returned to the United States.

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