Charles E. Tolman—born on 25 June 1903 in Concord, Mass.—entered the United States Naval Academy in the summer of 1921 and graduated on 4 June 1925. After serving in battleship Utah (BB-31), he was transferred to Warden (DD-288) in 1926. Tolman then completed training courses at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., and at the Submarine Base, New London, Conn. He served in submarines O-4 in 1928 and S-22 from 1929 to 1932 when he returned to the Naval Academy for two years. Tolman served in submarine S--46 in 1934 and commanded S-30 from April 1935 to May 1937. He was attached to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for 17 months before assuming command of Spearfish (SS-190) on 7 October 1939. In January 1941, Tolman joined the staff of Commander, Submarines, Atlantic Fleet.
Comdr. Tolman became the commanding officer of De Haven (DD-469) upon her commissioning on 21 September 1942. The destroyer steamed to the South Pacific in November 1942 and supported operations in the Solomons. On the afternoon of 1 February 1943, while escorting landing craft, De Haven was attacked by six Japanese dive bombers. Fighting off the attackers, the destroyer splashed three enemy planes before a bomb struck her navigating bridge, stopped her, and killed Comdr. Tolman. Two more hits and a near miss doomed De Haven, which sank within two minutes. Comdr. Tolman was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his valiant leadership.
(DM-28: dp. 2,200; 1. 376'6"; b. 40'10"; dr. 18'10"; s. 34.2 k. (tl.); cpl. 363; a. 6 5", 12 40mm.; cl. Robert H. Smith)
Tolman (DM-28) was laid down as DD-740 on 10 April 1944 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; reclassified a destroyer minelayer and redesignated DM-28 on 19 July; launched on 13 August; sponsored by Mrs. Helen Tolman; and commissioned on 27 October 1944, Comdr. Clifford A. Johnson in command.
The minelayer held her shakedown training off Bermuda during November and December and returned, via Norfolk, to Boston. On 13 January 1945, Tolman departed Boston to escort Pittsburgh (CA-72) to the west coast. She called at San Diego on the 27th and then escorted Birmingham. (CL-62) to Hawaii. She participated in exercises at Pearl Harbor until 23 February before heading for Eniwetok and Ulithi. On 19 March, Tollman sortied from Ulithi with Task Group 52.4 to provide fire support and antisubmarine screening for the minesweepers clearing channels prior to the amphibious assault on the Ryukyus. On 22 March, she began clearing the approaches to the beaches of Okinawa.
Shortly after midnight on 28 March, she encountered eight Japanese motor torpedo boats. The enemy closed to 4,000 yards when Tolman opened fire with her 5-inch and 40-millimeter batteries. The DM increased her speed to 34 knots and maneuvered radically to avoid torpedoes. Two of the enemy boats exploded and sank as the remainder laid a smoke screen. The minelayer briefly lost contact, but used radar-controlled fire against the remaining boats and fired star shells to ferret them out. The last boat was seen to slow, apparently in trouble, just before it was blown up. The ship evidently made a clean sweep of the torpedo boats as a search revealed nothing, and no boats had been seen leaving the area.
Later that morning, Tolman was approximately 500 yards from Skylark (AM-63) when Skylark struck and detonated a mine against her hull. As Tolman moved in to pass a tow line to the stricken ship, Skylark hit a second mine and began settling rapidly. Tolman backed full to clear the mined area, but her boats, together with PC-1228 and PC-1179, rescued 105 survivors.
On 29 March, during several enemy air attacks, Tolman reported splashing one plane of three in the first raid; one of two in the second attack; and, with the aid of Barton (DD-722) and Wiley (AM-29), two of three in the third. Later, she shot down a kamikaze that was approaching her in a suicide dive. The minelayer then proceeded to Kerama Retto to transfer Skylark's survivors to other ships.
On the morning of 30 March, Tolman contacted three enemy torpedo boats at a range of 3,000 yards. She went ahead at flank speed ana made a hard turn to port. One torpedo passed astern and another was reported off her starboard bow. A third exploded astern, causing considerable vibration. On 3 April, she screened Transport Division 17 to a waiting area approximately 150 miles southeast of Okinawa and remained there for 10 days before returning to the Hagushi beaches.
Tolman grounded off Nagunna Reef on the morning of 19 April and remained aground. Two tugs then pulled her free on the 25th, and Clamp (ARS-33) towed her to Kerama Retto for repairs. She entered drydock on 15 May and was not ready for sea until late in June. On 28 June, the ship got underway for the United States. After arriving at San Pedro on 21 July, she began permanent repairs that were completed on 8 November.
The minelayer stood out for the Far East early in December and arrived at Sasebo on the day after Christmas. She operated out of Sasebo until February 1946 and then shifted her base of operations to Pusan, Korea, for three months. The ship began the return voyage to California on 4 May and arrived at San Francisco on 27 May 1946. Proceeding down the coast to San Diego in January 1947, she was decommissioned on the 29th. Tolman was reclassified a fast minelayer, MMD-28, in January 1969. She was struck from the Navy list on 1 December 1970.
Tolman received one battle star for World War II service.