John Louis Chew, 89, a retired Navy vice admiral, died of congestive heart failure May 17 at his home in Fort Pierce, Fla. After retiring from active duty in 1970, he lived in his native Annapolis until becoming a full-time Florida resident two years ago.
Adm. Chew, an Annapolis High School graduate, was a 1931 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He went on to spend much of his career aboard surface ships. During World War II, he was an officer aboard the heavy cruiser Helena when it was sunk in 1943 by the Japanese in the Battle of Kula Gulf in the Solomon Islands.
He survived 2 1/2 days in the water before being rescued and was sent back to the Naval Academy as an instructor. In mid-1945, another cruiser named Helena was commissioned and the future admiral was named her executive officer.
After the war, he held a variety of posts, including service as project Mercury recovery force commander for astronauts John Glenn Jr., Virgil Grissom and Scott Carpenter. In 1964, he was named commander of Navy forces in Japan. Later, he was assistant chief of Naval Operations for plans and policy, commander of anti-submarine warfare forces in the Pacific, and, finally, commander of the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Command.
Adm. Chew's Navy awards include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal with combat "V."
His first wife, the former Helen Loughan, whom he married in 1938, died in 1954.
Survivors include his wife of 39 years, Julia Pierson Chew of Annapolis and Fort Pierce; two children from his first marriage, John Jr., of Annapolis, and Margaret Campbell of Grafton, Va.; three stepchildren, Thomas W. Chew of Jacksonville, Fla., Stanley C. Chew of Hampton, Va., and Virginia C. Payne of Rock Hill, S.C.; and six grandchildren.