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 Jesse Bartlett “Oley” Oldendorf

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Jesse Bartlett “Oley” Oldendorf

  • Birth 16 Feb 1887 Riverside, Riverside County, California, USA
  • Death 27 Apr 1974 Portsmouth, Portsmouth City, Virginia, USA
  • Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
  • Memorial ID 13776064

US Navy Admiral. His military career spanned World Wars I and II, and his probably best remembered for defeating a Japanese naval force in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Born in Riverside, California, he was selected to attend the US Naval Academy in 1905 and graduated in 1909. After serving two years at sea, then required by law, he received his commission in 1911. His first assignment was aboard the armored cruiser USS California, followed by the torpedo boat destroyer USS Preble, the cruiser USS Denver, the destroyer USS Whipple, the USS California again (renamed USS San Diego), and the Panama Canal hydrographic survey ship USS Hannibal. During World War I he spent a few months on recruiting duty in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and from June to August 1917 he commanded the naval armed guard on the US Army Transport ship Saratoga. He then became a gunnery officer aboard the troop transport USS President Lincoln, which was sunk by three torpedoes from a German submarine off the coast of Ireland in May 1918. From August 1918 to March 1919 he was engineering officer of the armored cruiser USS Seattle and the following July he was briefly executive officer of the troop transport USS Patricia. During the early 1920s he performed various duty, including a recruiter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an engineering inspector in Baltimore, Maryland, sea duty on the patrol yacht USS Niagara, and aboard the cruiser USS Birmingham in the Caribbean, while acting as flag secretary to Special Service Squadron commanders Rear Admiral Casey B. Morgan, Captain Austin Kautz and Rear Admiral William C. Cole. From 1922 to 1924 he served as aide to Rear Admiral Josiah S. McKean, commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard in California. In 1925 he became commander of the destroyer USS Decatur and from 1927 to 1928 he was aide to successive commandants Rear Admirals Thomas P. Magruder and Julian L. Latimer of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1928 to 1929 he attended the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island and from 1929 to 1930 he attended the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. From 1930 to 1935 he was the navigator of the battleship USS New York. During which time he also taught navigation at the US Naval Academy from 1932 to 1935. He then returned to sea duty, serving as executive officer of the battleship USS West Virginia until 1937, when he be became the director of the recruiting section of the Bureau of Navigation in Washington DC. From 1939 to September 1941 he commanded the cruiser USS Houston, after which he joined the staff of the Naval War College, where he taught navigation until February 1942. The following month he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral, and assigned to the Aruba-Curaçao sector of the Caribbean Sea Frontier. In August 1942 he was transferred to the Trinidad sector where he performed anti-submarine warfare. From May through December 1943 he commanded Task Force 24 which was assigned all Western Atlantic escorts. In January 1944 he was re-assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations, where he commanded Cruiser Division 4 from his flagship USS Louisville, that supported carrier operations and provided fire support for the landings during operations in the Marshall, Palau, and Mariana Island, and also the Battle of Leyte. In September 1944 he commanded the Fire Support Group from his flagship, the battleship USS Pennsylvania, and provided bombardment support of Peleliu in the Palaus island group. In October 1944 he commanded Task Group 77.2 at the Battle of Surigao Strait and defeated the Japanese Southern Force when he deployed his powerful force of battleships and cruisers in a classic battle line formation across the Surigao Strait, crossing the T of his opponent. His action prevented the Japanese from bringing their battle fleet, centered around the super battleship Musashi, into Surigao Strait and attacking the Allied beachheads on Leyte Island, and it resulted in the sinking of the Japanese battleships Fuso and Yamashiro and Vice Admiral Shoji Nishimura was killed. In December 1944 he was promoted to the rank of vice admiral and made commander of Battleship Squadron 1, commanding battleships in the landings at Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands. In August 1945 he participated in the Battle of Okinawa while serving on his flagship, the battleship USS Pennsylvania. The following month he commanded the occupation of Wakayama, Japan and dictated terms of surrender to Japanese Vice Admiral Hoka and Rear Admiral Yofai. In November 1945 he returned to the US and became commander of the 11th Naval District in Lake Bluff, Illinois. The following year he assumed command of Naval Base San Diego in California until 1947, when he became commander of the Western Sea Frontier and the US Navy reserve fleets at San Francisco, California. He retired in that position in September 1948, with 39 years of continuous military service. Among his military decorations and awards include the Navy Cross with bar, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal with 2 stars, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with 1 gold star, the Purple Heart with bar, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the World War I Victory Medal with transport bar, the Mexican Campaign Medal, and the Cuban Pacification Medal. He was then promoted to the rank of admiral on the retired list for having been especially commended in combat in accordance with an Act of Congress passed on March 4, 1925 and February 23, 1942 (colloquially known as a "tombstone promotion"). He died at the age of 87. The destroyer USS Oldendorf (launched in October 1975, decommissioned in June 2003 and sunk in April 2004) was named in his honor.

Bio by: William Bjornstad





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Mark S
  • Added: 29 Mar 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13776064
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jesse Bartlett “Oley” Oldendorf (16 Feb 1887–27 Apr 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13776064, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .