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FFG 48 Vandegrift

The guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) decommissioned after more than 30 years of service in a ceremony on Naval Base San Diego, 19 February 2015. Commissioned on Nov. 24, 1984, Vandegrift was named after Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, the 18th commandant of the Marine Corps. Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, commander of the 1st Marine Division based at Camp Pendleton, is scheduled to deliver the principal address. The 1st Marine Division had been under command of Vandegrift during World War II, where he led them to victory during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The ship returned from its final deployment in December, following operations in the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility. Vandegrift was part of the counter-transnational organized crime (C-TOC) mission Operation Martillo, a joint, combined operation involving the U.S. and 14 European and Western Hemisphere partner nations which targets illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America. While participating in Operation Martillo, Vandegrift intercepted approximately 19,833 pounds of cocaine and disrupted numerous other illegal drug shipments. The ship also participated in three community relations (COMREL) projects in Panama City during which 36 Sailors helped build a workshop for the blind, assist an outreach group in refurbishing their building and spent time with children in the Aid for AIDS community.

USS VANDEGRIFT (FFG 48), named for Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, U.S. Marine Corps, was built at Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, Washington, and was commissioned on 24 November 1984. The ship's inaugural cruise began on 5 January 1987. During the course of this around-the-world cruise, it sailed three oceans, seven seas and visited four continents. The plankowners also crossed the international dateline, equator, Greenwich meridian, and sailed through the straits of Gibraltar, and the Suez and Panama canals. VANDEGRIFT conducted operations with USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. These operations were highlighted by an air and sea power demonstration for the President of Pakistan. Port visits included Pearl Harbor; Subic Bay in the Republic of the Philippines; Karachi, Pakistan; Mombasa, Kenya; Maxime, France; Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; and St. Croix and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. VANDEGRIFT returned home to Long Beach in June, 1987.

The ship's second deployment began in June, 1988, returning it to operations in the Arabian Gulf shortly after the cease-fire between Iran and Iraq. VANDEGRIFT's mission while on patrol in the northern Arabian Gulf focused on providing protection and logistic support for joint forces in the area. VANDEGRIFT also participated in numerous Earnest Will missions, escorting U.S. and reflagged Kuwaiti tankers. Port visits included Pearl Harbor; Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines; Bahrain; Pattaya Beach, Thailand and Hong Kong. VANDEGRIFT returned home in December, 1988.

The ship's third deployment to the Arabian Gulf began in March, 1990. VANDEGRIFT patrolled the Northern Arabian Gulf and conducted Earnest Will escort missions. As the senior ship on station in the Arabian Gulf during the invasion of Kuwait, VANDEGRIFT served as the Anti-Air Warfare Commander and Electronic Warfare Coordinator. VANDEGRIFT participated in Operation Desert Shield's Maritime Interception Operations with units from United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and France. Ports of call included Pearl Harbor; Subic Bay; Phuket, Thailand; Singapore and Hong Kong. VANDEGRIFT returned home after an extended deployment in October, 1990.

On April 22, 1992, VANDEGRIFT began its fourth deployment to the Arabian Gulf. VANDEGRIFT participated in exercises with India, Qatar and Pakistan, helping to strenghten U.S. relations in that area. Ports of call included Doha, Qatar; Dubai, Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Karachi, Pakistan; Phuket, Thailand; Goa, India; Bahrain; Hong Kong; Singapore and Guam, and earned the Chief of Naval Operations LAMPS Helicopter Safety Award. VANDEGRIFT returned home on 22 October 1992.

VANDEGRIFT changed homeport to San Diego in February, 1993, and earned the COMNAVSURFPAC Food Service Award in March, 1994.

The fifth deployment to the Arabian Gulf began on 25 October 1994. VANDEGRIFT's mission was the enforcement of U.N. sanctions against Iraq in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The most memorable event was conducting a non-permissive boarding of a sanctions violator on Christmas Day. During the return transit, VANDEGRIFT played host to a major diplomatic reception in Muscat, Oman, to better diplomatic relations. Ports of call included Sasebo, Japan; Manila, Republic of the Philippines; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Bahrain; Singapore and Hong Kong. VANDEGRIFT returned home on 25 April 1995.

USS Vandegrift arrived at Ho Chi Minh City Nov. 19 , 2003 for a scheduled port visit. This visit marked the first U.S. Navy ship visit to Vietnam since 1973. It symbolizes the normalization of relations between the two nations and provided the crew with a chance for sightseeing and cultural exchanges.

USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) anchored off the coast of Dili, Timor-Leste on Wednesday, May 19 for two days in support of the United States' ongoing commitment to the world's newest democracy and its Independence Day.

Crewmembers completed a busy schedule inport Dili, including two luncheons, numerous tours of the ship for dignitaries, attending the United Nations turnover ceremony, and a private flag raising ceremony at the newly renovated American Embassy.

Shield and Crest

The ship's decorations include the Meritorious Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Southwest Asia Service Medal, and five Sea Service Ribbons.

SHIELD: On a field of gold and blue, the colors traditionally associated with the Navy, a scarlet demi-lion symbolizing the Marine courage and strength holds a blue lozenge, emblem of the 1st Marine Division, which fought under General Vandegrift's command against the Japanese at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The four gold sectors of the shield represent the continents where General Vandegrift served during the greater part of his outstanding career, North and South America, Asia and Australia. The blue sectors represent the oceans and the Navy, also alluded to by the wavy diagonals.

CREST: General Vandegrift's medals and decorations are represented in the crest: the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross and the distinguished Service Medal, the last referred to by the blue around the cross. The five bronze stars awarded to the General are recalled by the points of the Medal of Honor, and his distinction as the first active-duty Marine officer to reach four-star rank is symbolized by the four stars surrounding the crest. The adversary, Japan, against which General Vandegrift distinguished himself in combat, is alluded to by the red roundle at the center of the crest. The color red and the gold demi-globe also represent the Marine Corps. The laurel wreath symbolizes the many other awards and decorations General Vandegrift earned throughout his career, as well as his academic achievements and degrees.

Alexander A. Vandegrift

General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, who earned the Medal of Honor in World War II, served as the eighteenth Commandant of the Marine Corps, from January 1, 1944 to January 1, 1948. The general commanded the First Marine Division, Reinforced, in the battle for Guadalcanal, and the First Marine Amphibious Corps in the landing at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, during World War II.

For outstanding services as Commanding General of the First Marine Division, Reinforced, during the attack on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Gavutu in the Solomon Islands on August 7, 1942, he was awarded the Navy Cross, and for the subsequent occupation and defense from August 7 to December 9, 1942, was awarded the Medal of Honor. His citation for the latter reads in part: "With the adverse factors of weather, terrain and disease making his task a difficult and hazardous undertaking, and with his command eventually including sea, land, and air forces of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, Major General Vandegrift achieved marked success in commanding the initial landings of the United States Forces in the Solomon Islands and in their subsequent occupation. "His tenacity, courage and resourcefulness prevailed against a strong, determined and experienced enemy, and the gallant fighting spirit of the men under his inspiring leadership enabled them to withstand aerial, land and sea bombardment, to surmount all obstacles and leave a disorganized and ravaged enemy. "This dangerous but vital mission, accomplished at the constant risk of his life, resulted in securing a valuable base for further operations of our forces against the enemy."

General Vandegrift was born on March 13, 1887, in Charlottesville, Virginia. He attended the University of Virginia and was commissioned in the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant on January 22, 1909. Following instruction as the Marine Officers' School, Port Royal, South Carolina, and a tour of duty at the Marine Barracks, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he went to foreign shore duty in the Caribbean area, where he participated in the bombardment, assault and capture of Coyotepe in Nicaragua. He further participated in the engagement and occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico.

In December 1914, following his promotion to first lieutenant, he attended the Advance Base Course at the Marine Barracks, Philadelphia. Upon completion of schooling, he sailed for Haiti with the First Brigade and participated in action against hostile Cacos bandits at LeTrou and Fort Capois.

In August 1916, he was promoted to captain and became a member of the Haitian Constabulary at Port Au Prince, where he remained until detached to the United States in December 1918. He returned to Haiti again in July 1919, to serve with the Gendarmerie d' Haiti as an Inspector of Constabulary.

He was promoted to major in June 1920. Major Vandegrift returned to this country in April 1923, and was assigned to the Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia. He completed the Field Officers' Course, Marine Corps Schools in May 1926, following which he went to the Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California, as Assistant Chief of Staff.

In February 1927, he sailed for China where he served as Operations and Training Officer of the Third Marine Brigade with Headquarters at Tientsin. He was ordered to Washington, D. C., in September 1928, where he became Assistant Chief Coordinator, Bureau of the Budget. Following duty in Washington, he joined the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, where he became Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1 Section, Fleet Marine Force. During this assignment, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in June 1934.

Ordered to China in June 1935, Lieutenant Colonel Vandegrift served successively as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment at the American Embassy in Peiping. He was promoted to colonel in September 1936.

Colonel Vandegrift reported to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D. C., in June 1937, where he became Military Secretary to the Major General Commandant. In March 1940, he was appointed Assistant to the Major General Commandant, and the following month was promoted to brigadier general.

General Vandegrift was detached to the First Marine Division in November 1941 shortly before the outbreak of World War II. He was promoted to major general in March 1942, and in May sailed for the South Pacific area as Commanding general of the first Marine division to ever leave the shores of the United States. On August 7, 1942, in the Solomon Islands, he led ashore the First Marine Division, Reinforced, in the first large-scale offensive action against the Japanese.

In July 1943, he assumed command of the First Marine Amphibious Corps, and commanded this organization inthe landing at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, Northern Solomon Islands, on November 1, 1943. Upon establishing the initial beachhead, he relinquished command and returned to Washington, D. C., as Commandant-designate.

On January 1, 1944, as a lieutenant general, he was sworn in as the eighteenth Commandant of the Marine Corps. On April 4, 1945, he was appointed general, with date of rank from March 21, 1945, the first Marine officer on active duty to attain four-star rank.

For outstanding services as Commandant of the Marine Corps from January 1, 1944 to June 30, 1946, the general was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He left active service on December 31, 1947, and was placed on the retired list, April 1, 1949.

General Vandegrift holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Military Science from Pennsylvania Military College, and honorary degrees of Doctor of Law from Harvard, Colgate, Brown, Columbia, and Maryland Universities and John Marshall College.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, and Distinguished Service Medal, his decorations and Medals include: the Presidential Unit Citation with one Bronze Star, Solomon Islands, 1942; Navy Unit Commendation with one Bronze Star, Solomon Islands, 1943, and Okinawa, 1945; Expeditionary Medal with three Bronze Stars, Cuba, 1912, Nicaragua, 1912, Haiti, 1915-24, China, 1927-28; Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, Nicaragua, 1912; Mexican Service Medal, Mexico, 1914; Haitian Campaign Medal with one Star, Haiti, 1915 and 1919-20; Victory Medal with West Indies Clasp and one star, Haiti, 1918; Yangtze Service Medal, Shanghai, 1927; American Defense Service Medal, 1939-1941; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars, Solomon Islands, 1942-43; American Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.

He has received the following foreign decorations: Haitian Distinguished Service Medal, Haiti, 1919-20; Medaille Militaire with one Silver Star, Haiti, 1920-21; Honorary Knight Commander, Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; Companion (Honorary) of the Military Division of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath, British Solomon Islands, 1942; Cruz de Aviacion de Primera Clase, Peruvian Government, 1944; Abdon Calderon of the 1st Class, Ecuador, 1944, Knights Grand Cross in the Order of the Orange-Nassau with Swords, Netherlands, 1945; the Order of Pao-Ting (Precious Tripod) with Special clasp, China, 1947; and the Legion of Honor (Grand Officer), France.

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Page last modified: 10-05-2017 12:55:58 ZULU