A Chevalier Memoir
October 6, 1993, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the loss of USS Chevalier in the night battle with a superior Japanese task force off Vella Lavella Island in the Solomons Sea. On that fateful night, little thought was given to what the future might hold. Like most military personnel serving in the South Pacific, everyone had learned to live from day to day, doing their duty, taking whatever came, and hoping for the best. Those were desperate and violent times, with greatly outnumbered American and Allied forces struggling to hold the line against further Japanese advances until reinforcements could arrive.

That the line was held, against great odds, was due in no small measure to that valiant little band of destroyers—DesRon 21—of which Chevalier was a part. Those gallant ships are long since gone—some, like Chevalier, victims of enemy fire and others, like O’Bannon, retired with highest honors and eventual decommissioning. They have all vanished into history.

The men who sailed in those ships were then little more than boys, raw and untrained. They were rushed through boot camp and sent immediately to receiving stations for assignment to the fleet. The need was crucial. New ships were constantly coming off the ways, ready to be manned and sent to the fighting front.

They learned fast. They became a dedicated and efficient fighting force under the gun of dire necessity.

Now, their youth far behind them, those men who fought the good fight, and who triumphed in the end, are gathered once again in the twilight of their lives to meet and reminisce with old shipmates, to remember with reverence and love all those who have gone before, and to re-dedicate themselves to that great cause for which they fought so long ago.

The distant past in which they played such an intense and vital part has long since faded from public view. But they have not forgotten. They will never forget. After the passage of half a century, memories of those days and nights aboard Chevalier are still fresh and vivid in the minds of her surviving crew.

And as long as free men everywhere stand for those high principles for which Chevalier and her men so valiantly fought, the spirit of Chevalier will live on.

And it will never die.