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senior destroyer commanders, Asiatic Fleet

April 17 2009 at 7:54 AM
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Nelson  (no login)


I have some questions regarding the later war and postwar careers of the five senior Asiatic Fleet destroyer commanders--the COs of one squadron (DesRon 29) and three divisions (DesDiv 57, 58, 59)--in place early in the war. I know that three of them later attained flag rank, but the other two officers seemingly finished the war with nary a trace remaining. In each case, I would appreciate knowing what service each performed subsequently in the war, whether he survived, his final rank attained in the U.S. Navy, etc. The five officers:

1. Capt. (postwar Vice Admiral) Herbert Victor Wiley, commanding DesRon 29. He had enjoyed an amazing and very lucky prewar career in naval aviation, surviving the crashes of both dirigibles AKRON in April 1933 (one of only three crewmen to do so) and MACON in February 1935. Well after leaving the Asiatic Fleet, he was given the command of WEST VIRGINIA (BB 98), winning the Navy Cross for his performance at the battle of Surigao Strait, 24-25 Oct 1944. Pretty complete history, but anything else of significance?

2. Cmdr. Edwin M Crouch, commanding DesDiv 57. He does not seem to have figured in many, if any, of the sharp American destroyer actions that took place in the NEI. Last seen aboard WHIPPLE (DD 217), in which he participated in the decision to depart the scene of PECOS's (AO 6) sinking on 1 Mar 1942. His later war service has been impossible for me to find (or at least in the sources I possess).

3. Cmdr. (postwar Rear Admiral) Thomas Howell Binford, commanding DesDiv 58. He led his division in the battle of Badoeng Strait, 19-20 Feb 1942, for which he won the Navy Cross. Later led four American DDs in the battle of the Java Sea, and also during the escape of these same four ships via Bali Strait to Australia. I cannot find anything about his later war service.

4. Cmdr. Paul Hopkins Talbot, originally commanding DesDiv 59. He led the gallant torpedo and gun attack on Japanese troop transports at Balikpapan, 23-24 Jan 1942, for which he won the Navy Cross. Relieved of that command less than a week later, 30 Jan 1942, Talbot disappeared thereafter from the SW Pacific. It is possible that he was wounded and/or recalled stateside for hero display or for some other reason. I cannot find evidence of his later war service or his promotion to flag rank in my sources.

5. Lt. Cmdr. (postwar Vice Admiral) Edward Nelson Parker, originally commanding USS PARROTT (DD 218) in DesDiv 58. He ably fought his ship in the battle of Balikpapan, 23-24 Jan 1942, for which he was awarded his first Navy Cross, and on 30 Jan 1942, he relieved Cmdr. Paul Talbot as CO of DesDiv 59. Parker led two American destroyers at the battle of Badoeng Strait, 19-20 Feb 1942, for which he won a second Navy Cross. In early November 1942, while in command of CUSHING (DD 376) sunk by enemy action off Guadalcanal, he was awarded his third Navy Cross. Any info on what he did after 1942?

These commanding officers won four Navy Crosses in the NEI, one each by Cmdrs. Talbot and Binford, and two by Lieut. Cmdr. Parker, in only two battles, one of them a major bloody nose for ABDA naval forces. No such awards were made for the battle of the Java Sea, although of course Capt. Albert H. Rooks, commanding officer of HOUSTON (CA 30), won the Medal of Honor (posthumously) for his performance during the period ending 27 Feb 1942 (curiously, not including the battle of Sunda Strait, 28 Feb-1 Mar 1942, in which Rooks was killed in action). It is of interest that Lt. William J. Giles, Jr., was not awarded the Navy Cross, for his splendid navigation for the destroyer division passing at speed through Bali Strait during the night of 1 Mar 1942, for which his commanding officer on JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD 216) had strongly recommended him.

Answers appreciated, thanx.


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  • Cmdr. Thomas Howell Binford, - Klemen L. on Apr 20, 2009, 8:08 PM
  • Cdr t. Murray Stokes - P Echols on Dec 23, 2017, 10:58 AM
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