After the holidays CHILTON loaded the first battalion of the 7th army Regiment (Infantry) in Boston and participated in Operation PORTREX, the largest peacetime Amphibious operation undertaken by Atlantic Fleet forces up until that time. After a brief stop-over in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she arrived back in Boston 3 April 1950 and under-went two months of overhaul there.
CHILTON then returned to Norfolk and planned intensive training for her scheduled deployment to Korea. A serious boiler casualty then occurred which forced an additional period at Norfolk Naval shipyard for a complete replacement of her boiler tubes. CHILTON was prevented from going on her planned assignment and her sister ship, the BAYFIELD APA-33 took her place instead. It was during this period that another change of command took place where CAPT Aylward was relieved by CAPT Neale Roland Curtin on 29 June 1950. (This was the day that CAPT Curtin announced that he had two new "babies," the CHILTON and a new son, Mark.)
That summer of 1950 saw CHILTON taking part in Operation CADMID V, a joint training exercise for West Point cadets and Annapolis midshipmen as well as a large number of Reserve midshipmen from Naval ROTC un its throughout the United States. Following a trip up the Hudson River to West Point, CHILTON returned to Norfolk where she arrived 28 August 1950.
After undergoing refresher training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 1 September and a brief stopover in Kingston, Jamaica CHILTON embarked COMTRANSDIV 21 in Norfolk 1 October in the person of CAPT J. W. Stryker. CHILTON next took part in training Marine officers at Quantico, VA from 16 to 21 February and in Amphibious training exercises for student Marine Corps officers. On 7 April 1951 RADM H. E. Orem came aboard and raised his two-star flag for COMPHIBGRU FOUR. A sudden change in plans occurred and forced him to depart on 21 April. In May CHILTON took part in CONVEX II.
Her next exercise took her to Newfoundland and Bermuda as the flagship of COMTRANS DIV 23. Upon her New York arrival, CHILTON'S crew took part in an Armed Forces Day parade, and welcomed hundreds of visitors aboard as guests on 19 May 1951 before returning to Norfolk for another change in commanders.
CAPT Curtin was relieved on 28 May 1951 by Captain James Donald Livingston Grant who commanded CHILTON's first Mediterranean cruise which began 11 June. After embarking elements of the 2nd Marine Division at Morehead City, she departed 22 June for the Mediterranean. CAPT Stryker was aboard as flag of COMTRANSDIV 21. The crew enjoyed liberties in Gibraltar, Golfe Juan, Cannes and Athens before undertaking their first Allied landing operations at Crete and Malta. CHILTON then proceeded to Golfe Juan where the flag, his staff and the Marine battalion were disembarked. The ship sailed empty to Naples where she became the berthing ship for the staff of ADM Robert Carney, CINC Southern Europe, attending a NATO conference there. It was here at Naples that CAPT Grant was married to a Greek lady he had met during an earlier tour of the Mediterranean. The captain will also be remembered for the Packard automobile he carried in the hold and put over the side onto the dock wherever he could find the time to drive around the countryside surrounding the ports he visited while commanding the CHILTON.
One incident that will not soon be forgotten by the crew occurred when they were lined up for a formal visit and review by the President of Italy. The engineering officer of the Italian flagship (believed by some to have been about 1890 vintage!) decided for some reason to blow his tubes at the worst possible moment! The resultant shower of sparks, soot and cinders came down on all present: visitors, the bank, CINCSEUR, his staff, Captain Grant and all officers and men present! (Does anyone know what happened to that E.O?)
While in Naples the crew celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving with the usual turkey dinner and all the trimmings. After three and a half months of this highly unusual duty, CHILTON returned to Norfolk where she arrived 20 December 1951 in time for Christmas leaves for all hands.
In January 1952 CHILTON was refitted at Portsmouth Navy Yard and sailed to the Caribbean for a training cruise known as TRAEX, returned some West Point cadets from Little Creek to West Point, enjoyed a Fourth of July celebration in New York City and returned to Norfolk in July. That month there were changes in command for both CHILTON and COMTRANSDIV 21. CAPT Grant was relieved by CAPT Edward Bernet of the CHILTON and CAPT Stryker was relieved by CAPT Woodbury as commodore of TRANSDIV 21. On 21 August 1952 CHILTON left Norfolk to participate in NATO Operation MAINBRACE in the North Sea. This was the first-ever full scale NATO naval exercise involving several nations' ships. Liberty followed this exercise in Edinburgh and Copenhagen following which CHILTON headed for the Mediterranean where she became part of the Sixth Fleet for Operation LONGSTEP. Practice landings were made at Algiers with the actual landings held at Lebedos Bay in Turkey. While in the Mediterranean, crewman had opportunities to visit Algiers, Izmir, Rhodes, Oran, Golfe Juan, Naples and Malaga. Christmas this year was celebrated in Marseille and CHILTON returned home to Norfolk on 6 February 1953.
Only twenty days later CHILTON left Norfolk for Operation PHIBEX II at Vieques at the eastern tip of Puerto Rico. For the very first time in almost two years CHILTON was flying an Admiral's flag again, that of RADM Rufus E. Rose, commander of PHIBGRU TWO. Just four days before CHILTON's crew celebrated the tenth anniversary of her commissioning, CAPT Bernet was relieved by CAPT R. D. Williams on 25 May 1953. MARLEX and NARMID exercises followed in June and July until a turbine casualty marred the cruise and forced a ten day halt in the operation at San Juan. CHILTON next entered the Norfolk shipyard for evaluation then on to the Philadelphia yard for three month overhaul. On 23 September CHILTON left Philadelphia for a shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay and Gonaives. Following a final amphibious training period at Little Creek, she rejoined the Sixth Fleet for normal operations. All hands enjoyed Christmas leaves at Norfolk.
Combat loaded with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Division CHILTON sailed 5 January 1954 for the Mediterranean carrying the flag of COM Bosquet N. Wev, COMTRANSDIV ONE. The crew again saw some familiar sights at Oran, Naples and Izmir, then added other new liberty spots at Salonika and LaSpezia from which CHILTON departed on 13 May. Landings with our NATO allies provided the work before CHILTON returned to Norfolk 27 May 1954. CAPT Williams was relieved by CAPT Clifton Iverson in July 1954. Local operations were carried out during the summer as CHILTON prepared for her next cruise.
The NORAMEX Phase of the overall LANTFLEX Exercise entailed winter amphibious landings on the coast of Labrado. This was followed by the final phases of LANTFLEX at Onslow Beach, NC.
After a leave and upkeep period during the holiday season, CHILTON headed south again in January 1955 to participate in PHIBEX I and II. She remained off Vieques for ten weeks except for liberty runs to several Caribbean ports, then returned to Norfolk in late March. In May she spent nine days at Quantico while her embarked staff laid plans for Operation PACKARD VI. This operation unfolded off Little Creed and was soon followed by TRAMID, the Naval Academy midshipmen's amphibious training exercise, and then by MARLEX, a large scale Marine landing on the beaches of Camp Pendleton which was viewed by numerous ranking military officers and civilian officials from bleachers erected on the beach.
CHILTON was at Norfolk Naval Shipyard from late June through August 1955 while her electronic equipment was completely remodeled and modernized. On 31 August during this period, she had another change in commanding officers. CAPT Iverson was relieved by CAPT Charles K. Duncan. On 27 September CHILTON had another refresher cruise to Guantanamo Bay, spent a weekend in New York City and on 10 October sailed once more for the Caribbean. On 29 October 1955 while at Kingston, Jamaica for liberty, a special event occurred.
Two 17th century cannon, a gift from the Jamaican Historical Society, were presented by the British Governor, Sir Hugh Foot, to our American Consul, Mr. David Maynard. He in turn gave custody of them to CAPT Duncan for transport to the United States where they were to be installed at the Fort Frederica National Monument in Georgia. They had once guarded Fort Williams in Jamaica during the 1600's and they weighed together three and a half tons. This gift was part of the Jamaica's 300th Anniversary Celebration under British rule, and was made since no cannons of the period were available to the recently restored Fort Frederica. On 8 November 1955 CHILTON arrived at Norfolk for two weeks of refresher training at the Little Creek Amphibious Base, the next item on her agenda.
A week after her November training period CHILTON participated in a mission that was unique for her class of ship. She joined in an air defense exercise with units of battleship, cruiser, destroyer and submarine forces and received congratulations for her outstanding material readiness, termed the best of any ship in the exercise, and in her top honors for radar detection, which she shared with the USS CONE DD-866, a destroyer. This exercise was called AIDEX and was followed by holiday leaves.
In 1956-57 the Suez Canal crisis required CHILTON, which was on station in the Mediterranean under CAPT F. W. Laing, COMPHIBRON 23, to go to Alexandria, Egypt to evacuate American nationals in danger from the bombing and strafing. In two days, despite some intense Anglo-French bombing raids on the nearby Egyptian airfields and heavy anti-aircraft fire, the ship embarked 1105 evacuees, most of whom were women and children.
"I Remember........by Hayes C. McClerkin, LT USNR 1955. From our assault position anchorage off Alexandria we were eventually allowed into the harbor which was blockaded for the next 4 or 5 days while we embarked more than 1100 civilians. The British and French warplanes were constantly bombing targets and a few Egyptian naval units. The latter were getting the worst of it and anchored right next to us and other ships. As our PA announced incoming raids spotted by our CIC, the Egyptian destroyers would go into their GQ since their spotting was inferior to ours! Their AA fire was ineffective but the spent shrapnel showered CHILTON a few times. As Navigator or GQ OOD I was on the bridge constantly and like other officers let two mothers and their children stay in my stateroom. When we were finally allowed to sail out of Alexandria, we had all passengers on deck as there were possible mines in the channel. We transferred all civilians to the S.S. Patch at sea off Crete."
Several small incidents occurred during the Alexandria evacuation that are worthy of note. Anticipating the embarkation of an unknown number of children of unknown age groups necessitated some unusual preparations ranging from diaper folding to crib building and game construction. The only casualty reported was that of a French lady who fell from her top bunk while dreaming and sustained a broken leg.
Among the evacuees was a Mrs. Robert Von Vorhis who gave birth to a son on board the CHILTON on October 31, 1956 - Halloween. She named him after the ship that was taking them to safety. The men of the CHILTON later gave the parents a plaque which read: "Commemorating the Launching 28 February 1957 of CHILTON VON VORHIS with the fond wish that his journey through life may be accompanied by fair winds and following seas. Presented by the Officers and Men of the USS CHILTON (APA-38)." The date on the plaque was obviously the date of its actual presentation - not his birth. Officiating at this singular event in the USS CHILTON's history was LT Nicholas Sacrinty, (MC), USNR, the ship's Medical Officer.
"I Remember.................by Nicholas W. Sacrinty, LT (MC) USNR 1955. When we got the word that we would be picking up people of various nations: men, women, children and infants; we soon realized how poorly equipped we were for the task. I put our small H Division staff of 5 people to work making bassinets, cutting and folding diapers, and generally making ready an over-sized nursery. Fortunately, some of the corpsmen had prior experience with babies and infants so much of the preparation went quite well."
The Marines kept the "junior marines" busy by drilling them in marching and in rifle drills (with real carbines but with no ammunition!). These eight to twelve year olds grew into a close-knit group with an esprit de corps that challenged that of the U.S.
Marine Corps itself. When it came time off Crete to transfer all the evacuees to a larger transport, the S. S. PATCH, the "junior marines" didn't want to ride across with their parents and sibling and insisted on having their own LCVP to transport them over to the PATCH! CHILTON's commanding officer until July 1957 was CAPT Dale Mayberry who was relieved by CAPT John M. Lee until July 1958.
In the summer of 1958 CHILTON was again on station in the Mediterranean under CAPT Thomas B. Dabney when trouble in Lebanon came and she moved close to shore and, in a flawless assault with less than 48 hours notice, delivered the Sixth Marine's 3rd Battalion onto the beach near Beirut on 16 July. For two months CHILTON supported these troops in a perfect display of amphibious teamwork.
From January to August 1959 CHILTON carried the flag of CAPT Dale Mayberry, COMPHIBRON TWO and COMTASKFOR 61. CAPT Dabney was relieved on 12 September 1959 and his replacement was CAPT John P. Currie. From August until December 1959 CHILTON carried the flag of CAPT James D. Collett, COMPHIBRON TWO and COMTASKFOR 61. CHILTON departed New York 23 March 1960 for two days of sea trials and crew refresher training and returned to Norfolk.