Abbot’s Commanding Officers:
Chester Edward “Blackie” Carroll

April 23, 1943 — August 13, 1943

By Walt Baranger

Carroll

Abbot’s first commanding officer was a World War I army veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor who retired as a rear admiral in 1954.

Chester Edward Carroll was born in Seattle in 1900, served in the Army and Washington National Guard in the final months of World War I, then graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1924. He served on an unusual variety of ships, including the Yangtze River gunboat Oahu in the late 1920s. In 1933, he was assigned to the captured Spanish-American War cruiser Reina Mercedes, which was permanently moored as a barracks ship at the U.S. Naval Academy. He joined the destroyer forces for good in 1936 and was eventually assigned to Hawaii in command of the Bagley-class destroyer Helm.

Lt. Cmdr. Carroll was a Pearl Harbor veteran with a unique distinction: He and his son survived the attack aboard the same Navy ship.

On 7 December 1941, Chester Todd Carroll, 13, was visiting his father aboard Helm. Already underway within Pearl Harbor when the attack began, Helm took some near-misses and was one of a handful of vessels that managed to sortie.

After two days at sea with his father, young Chet was evacuated from Helm via boatswain’s chair. Chester and Chet Carroll are the only known father-son “shipmates” of the Pearl Harbor attack.

(Chet served in the Navy during the Korean War and died in 2000.)

Lt. Cmdr. Carroll and Helm later fought at Coral Sea, the Solomon Islands, Savo Island and Guadalcanal, and also saved four adrift survivors of the heavily damaged fleet oiler Neosho.

On 23 April 1943, Commander Carroll accepted command of the newly commissioned Abbot in Boston and supervised its shakedown off Casco Bay, Maine, and its deployment to the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, Abbot got its first taste of war, joining the fruitless search for survivors of a German submarine.

Returning to Boston in August 1943, Commander Carroll handed Abbot to a new commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Marshall Dornin, and moved up to command Destroyer Division 96.

Toward the end of the war, Commander Carroll commanded Task Unit 94.3.9, the Bonin Islands Anchorage Occupation Unit, from his flagship, the Benham-class destroyer Wilson. This unit arranged the surrender of Japanese troops in part of the Marianas.

He ended the war in command of Destroyer Squadron 6, then commanded the Haskell-class attack transport Saint Croix, served as a military advisor in Taiwan and retired from the Navy as a rear admiral in 1954 after 30 years of active duty.

Rear Adm. Carroll died near San Diego on 6 June 1987 at age 86, and is buried with his wife, Ruth Harriette Carroll, overlooking San Diego Bay at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma. He earned the Silver and Bronze Star medals for his service in World War II, and was Abbot’s only skipper to hold the World War I Victory Medal.


Carroll Grave

1924 Naval Academy yearbook photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association