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First Name: Richard

Last Name: Conolly

Birthplace: Waukegan, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Lansing

Date of Birth: 26 April 1892

Date of Death: 01 March 1962

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1914-1953
Richard Lansing Conolly

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1914

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Richard Lansing Conolly

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Richard Lansing Conolly was born on 26 April 1892 in Waukegan, IL. He attended Lake Forest Academy and was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, graduating in 1914. He was assigned to the battleship USS Virginia (BB-13) and served in Mexican waters. Between May-November 1915, he received training aboard USS Montana (ACR-13), and in March 1916, he was assigned to USS Vermont (BB-20) as Torpedo Officer.

World War I

Transferred in May 1916 to the destroyer USS Smith (DD-17), he was aboard her when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917. Smith performed escort duty in European waters out of Brest, France.

Conolly was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in connection with the salvaging of the transport ship USS West Bridge, which was hit by two torpedoes launched by the German submarine U-107 in August 1918. Conolly, with a party of eight others remained on board the badly damaged ship for five days, steering by hand and handling the lines from the tugs, while the ship was towed 400 nautical miles to port.

Inter-War Period

He returned to the U.S. in November 1918, fitting out, and serving as Executive Officer of the destroyers USS Foote (DD-169), Worden (DD-288) and Hunt (DD-194) in turn. From August 1920, he studied Electrical Engineering at Annapolis and Columbia University, NY, receiving a Master of Science degree in June 1922. He then served aboard USS Mississippi (BB-41), transferring to USS New York (BB-34) in March 1924 to serve as Assistant Engineer Officer until September 1925. He then returned to Annapolis, this time as an Instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics.

In June 1927, he returned to sea as Engineer Officer of USS Concord (CL-10). In August 1929, he assumed command of the destroyer USS Du Pont (DD-152). He completed the junior course at the Naval War College, Newport, RI, in May 1931, and remained on the staff for two years.

In May 1933, he reported as Aide and Flag Secretary on the staff of Commander Cruisers, Scouting Force, and from April 1935 until June 1936 he served as Navigator aboard the battleship USS Tennessee (BB-43).

He returned to the Naval Academy in May 1939, as an instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics, and later in the Department of Seamanship and Navigation.

Conolly assumed command of Destroyer Division 7 in May 1939, transferring to Destroyer Squadron 6 on 30 January 1941. He was at sea, in command of DESRON 6 at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

World War II

He participated in the initial attack on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands on 1 February 1942, as part of the force under the command of Admiral William Halsey, Jr. In April, his destroyers served as escort for the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) from which Lieutenant General J. H. Doolittle's aircraft took off for the first bombing raid on Tokyo. He also participated in a shore bombardment of Wake Island in command of the destroyers in Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance's Task Group.

Promoted to Rear Admiral in July 1942, he served on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Ernest King.

From March to October 1943, he served with the Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet, taking part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy. Transferred to the Pacific, he was with amphibious forces in the Pacific and participated in the landings on Kwajalein, Wake and Marcus Islands.

He commanded Group 3, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet during 1944-45, and led the landings on Guam in July 1944, and the Lingayen Gulf in January 1945.

He gained the nickname "Close-In Conolly" from his insistence that fire support ships should be extremely close to the beach during amphibious assaults. Conolly believed that strong fortifications could be neutralized only by direct hits, which could only be achieved from the shortest possible range.


Conolly was naval representative to the 1946 Paris Peace Conference. On 23 September 1946, he was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral and commanded the U.S. Twelfth Fleet until January 1947; then U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean until 1950.

His last assignment was as president of the U.S. Naval War College at Newport, RI, between 1950-53. Admiral Conolly retired in November 1953.


The ship USS Conolly (DD-979), a Spruance-class destroyer, was named for Admiral Richard Lansing Conolly.

In Retirement

He was President of Long Island University until 1962.

Death and Burial

On 1 March 1962, Admiral Richard Lansing Conolly and his wife, Helen B. Conolly, were passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 1, which crashed into Jamaica Bay soon after take-off from Idlewild Airport, New York City, killing all 95 passengers and crew aboard. Conolly and Helen are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 486   Created by: MHOH




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