Thornton A. Jenkins was born at Orange Court House. Va., 11 December 1811. He entered the Navy as a midshipman 1 November 1828 and served first in the West Indies in an expedition against pirates and slavers. Examined for a commission as Lieutenant, he placed first among 82 candidates.
Prior to the Mexican War, Jenkins served with the Coast Survey and with the Brazilian and Mediterranean Squadrons. During the war with Mexico, as executive officer of Germantown, he led landing parties from his ship at Tuxpan and Tabasco. Later, he commanded hospital ship Relief and the Supply Station at Salmedena Island. In the interval between the wars, he served in the receiving ship at Baltimore, returned to the Coast Survey, and was Secretary of the Lighthouse Board.
His Civil War record was distinguished. Serving primarily in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron of David Farragut, he commanded Oneida. He served as chief of staff to Farragut, and was later wounded while commanding a convoy escort group. As Senior Officer Present, in command of Richmond, he received the surrender of Port Hudson 9 July 1863. He later commanded a division of the Squadron.
Jenkins was Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, from 1865 to 1869, and he commanded the Asiatic Station from 1870 until his retirement in 1873. Rear Admiral Jenkins was President of the Naval Institute from 1883 to 1885, and died 9 August 1893.
(DD-47: displacement 2,100 tons; length 376'4"; beam 39'5"; draft 13'; speed 35.5 knots; complement 273; armament 5 5-inch guns, 10 40mm., 7 20mm., 10 21-inch torpedo tubes; 2 depth charge tracks, 6 depth charge projectors; class Fletcher)
Jenkins (DD-447) was laid down by Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J., 27 November 1941; launched 21 June 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Marion Parker Embry; and commissioned 31 July 1942, Lt. Comdr. H. F. Miller in command.
After a training period during the summer of 1942, Jenkins departed Casco Bay, Maine, 24 October as escort to a convoy headed for the North African campaign. She screened heavy ships during the shore bombardment, as the attack force arrived off Casablanca 8 November. Following the successful assault, the destroyer returned to New York 19 November to prepare for action in the Pacific.
Arriving at Noumea, New Caldonia 4 January 1943, she immediately began escort and patrol duty among the Solomon Islands and in the Coral Sea. Her first Pacific landing operation began 29 June, when she joined other units in supporting the invasion of New Georgia Island. Jenkins splashed several enemy planes, as the Japanese fought back with considerable air strength.
Assigned to Rear Adm. W. L. Ainsworth's Task Group 36.1, Jenkins departed Tulagi 5 July and steamed up the Slot to intercept a Japanese destroyer and transport force carrying reinforcements to Kolombangara. Radar detected the enemy during mid-watch; and during the Battle of Kula Gulf 6 July, American gunfire sank one destroyer and drove another ashore. Enemy torpedoes sank Helena.
Following this operation, Jenkins was dispatched 18 July to a position 100 miles south of Santa Cruz Island to assist damaged seaplane tender Chincoteague. Although under attack from enemy bombers, the destroyer escorted Chincoteague back to Espiritu Santo.
During the next 4 months Jenkins engaged in escort duty, training exercises, and preparations for the Gilbert Islands campaign. She joined the screen of Rear Adm. W. A. Radford's Northern Carrier Group which bombed Makin and Tarawa during the landings 15 November. Then the destroyer sailed with the carrier force to attack Kwajalein and Wotje in the Marshalls on 4 December. During these raids the carrier Lexington was hit by a torpedo, and Jenkins was assigned to escort her back to Pearl Harbor where she arrived 9 December.
Jenkins departed Hawaii 25 January 1944 with a tanker unit to fuel fast carriers and ships covering the Marshall Islands campaign. She operated with the refueling group through February, and conducted shore bombardment on Bougainville during March. She departed Seeadler Harbor 20 April to rendezvous with Task Force 77 for amphibious operations at Hollandia and Aitape. The landings took place 22 April, and their successful conclusion gave American Pacific forces another base from which to unleash further attacks on remaining enemy held islands. After escort duty and ASW patrols, Jenkins made a search in early June to thwart any attempt by the Japanese to reinforce their Biak garrison. She then covered and provided shore bombardment for the invasions of Noemfoor, Sansapor, and Morotai, as well as patrolling and escorting reinforcements for these operations throughout the summer.
Jenkins once again departed Manus, Admiralties, 12 October for the Leyte invasion scheduled 20 October. Upon arrival, the destroyer was assigned to radar picket duty, from which she performed fighter director duties. As other units of the fleet were decisively defeating the enemy fleet in the historic Battle for Leyte Gulf, Jenkins continued her services on the picket station until 27 November.
On 28 December Jenkins sortied from Aitape to provide close cover for the Luzon Attack Force. After receiving some damage from the enemy shore battery, the destroyer returned to Leyte 12 January 1945. Ten days later she departed to assist in hunter-killer operations in the Linga-yen Gulf area. She remained on ASW patrol until proceeding to cover minesweeping and shore bombardment on Corregidor 13 February. She continued to support the landings in the islands, giving valuable fire support and ASW assistance until late April.
She departed Subic Bay 24 April-to cover minesweeping and amphibious operations in the Celebes Sea off Borneo. Jenkins struck a mine off Takaran Island 30 April and sailed into Subic Bay for repairs. On 18 June she sailed for the United States to complete repairs, arriving San Pedro 8 July. She remained on the West Coast through the duration of the war. The battle-scarred destroyer decommissioned at San Diego 1 May 1946.
The outbreak of the Korean conflict necessitated additional naval strength to maintain America's worldwide commitments. Jenkins recommissioned as DDE-447 on 2 November 1951 under the command of Comdr. C. F. McGivern. She departed San Diego 25 February 1952 for a training period at Pearl Harbor. Upon completion of training, she arrived Japan 12 June; and during the summer she operated with Task Force 77 which furnished air support for the ground forces in Korea. She also engaged in patrol duties off Korea and Formosa before returning to her home port Pearl Harbor 5 December.
She operated out of Pearl until 10 November 1953 when she sailed for another Far Eastern tour. This cruise was highlighted by Korean and Formosan patrols before returning to Pearl Harbor 15 June. From 1954 through 1963, Jenkins sailed annually to the Far East for peacekeeping operations with the 7th Fleet. In her 1958 deployment the 7th Fleet was on ready alert, as the Chinese Communists commenced harassment of the Chinese Nationalist islands of Quemoy and Matsu.
During the sixties the 7th Fleet deployments were of greater importance because of the Communist insurgency in Laos and Vietnam. For the greater part of 1964 and 1965, Jenkins operated out of Pearl Harbor.
Jenkins sailed for the Far East 9 February 1966 and on the 21st was assigned to gunfire support duty and effectively shelled enemy troop concentrations to assist Marine fighting in Vietnam. But for breathers in the Philippines and Japan, she continued this duty until returning to Pearl Harbor 22 July.
Jenkins operated in Hawaiian waters until entering U.S. Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor 11 September for a major overhaul which was completed on 6 February 1967. Following a short period of refresher training out of Pearl Harbor, the destroyer sailed for the western Pacific on 18 April. Arriving at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on 7 May, Jenkins conducted a two week Taiwan Strait's patrol before moving on to Vietnam. Arriving in I Corps area on 22 May, the destroyer spent the next four months conducting naval gunfore support off the coast, plane guard duty with aircraft carriers and ASW and other readiness exercises with 7th Fleet units. The warship sailed for home on 4 October, arriving at Pearl Harbor via Yokosuka on the 23d.
Following a post-deployment stand down, Jenkins conducted local operations out of Pearl Harbor until 5 August 1968, when the warship sailed for the western Pacific. The destroyer arrived off Vietnam, via Yokosuka and Subic Bay, on 4 September and relieved Rich (DD-820) of Search and Rescue (SAR) duties in the Tonkin Gulf that same day. She remained on SAR duty, except for occassional ASW exercises and maintenance stops at Subic Bay and Da Nang, until 26 December when the warship began gunfire support missions. She remained on the gunline until 18 January 1969 when Jenkins sailed for home, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 28 February via Subic Bay; Newcastle and Hobart, Australia; Lyttleton, New Zealand; and Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Tapped for inactivation on 7 April, Jenkins decommissioned at San Diego on 2 July 1969 and was struck from the Navy list that same day. Initially retained for possible foreign sale, the hulk was ultimately sold to Campbell Machine Corp., San Diego, on 26 February 1971 for scrapping.
Jenkins (DD-447) earned fourteen battle stars during World War II, one battle star in the Korean conflict, and five battle stars for Vietnam service.
10 April 2006