Title: Distinguishing Flag of RADM Oldendorf
Accession #: NHHC 2003-58-16
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command
One personal distinguishing flag of Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf, flown on the USS Louisville (CA-28) at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The field of the flag is blue with two white stars as the charge. The canvas at the hoist reads "USS Louisville Flagship Rear Admiral J.B. Oldendorf USN Battle of Surigao Strait, October 25, 1944."
Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf commanded the fire support group during the invasion of Peleliu and the Palau islands. On 12 September 1944, the fire support group was scheduled for a three day assault on the islands but ceased fire after two days, striking all of their targets around the island group multiple times. Following the barrage, the US Marines assaulted the still heavily fortified beach on Peleliu, resulting in heavy Marine casualties. The early withdrawal of the attack resulted in criticism and controversy for Oldendorf.
Admiral Oldendorf was able to redeem himself from his alleged mistake at Peleliu during the Battle of Surigao Strait, a component of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf. On 24 October 1944, as commander of Task Group 77.2 aboard the USS Louisville (CA-28), Oldendorf deployed his ships in a battle line formation enabling a successful “crossing the T” maneuver resulting in the sinking of the Japanese battleships Fusō and Yamashiro. The Battle of Surigao Strait marks the last time this maneuver has been performed in battle. The efforts of Task Group 77.2 prevented the Japanese fleet from entering Surigao Strait and secured the beachheads at Leyte. Admiral Oldendorf earned the Navy Cross for his actions during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.