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O’Neill, Merlin (1898-1981)


O’Neill, Merlin (1898-1981)
Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)

Based on four interviews conducted by Peter Spectre from January 1970 to March 1971. The volume contains 139 pages of interview transcript plus a comprehensive index. The transcript is copyright 2004 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.

In 1921 O’Neill graduated from the Coast Guard Academy after a three-year shortened course resulting from World War I. In the 1920s he served in several cutters during the anti-rumrunner patrols of the Prohibition era: Gresham, Haida (WPG-45), Algonquin, and Mojave. In 1925-27 he was executive officer and later commanding officer of the destroyer Ericsson (CG-5). He served on the staff of the Coast Guard Academy from 1927 to 1930, had brief duty in other destroyers in the early 1930s, and commanded the cutter Apache, 1933-35. O’Neill had a long stretch in Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington from 1935 to 1942, during which time he helped establish the Coast Guard Reserve and Coast Guard Auxiliary. He commanded the Navy attack transport Leonard Wood (AP-25/APA-12) from 1942 to 1944, during World War II amphibious operations. After that he headed the Baltimore subsection of the Fifth Coast Guard District and then commanded the entire Fifth Coast Guard District. O’Neill served 1946-49 as Assistant Commandant of the Coast Guard and from 1950 to 1954 was the seventh Commandant of the Coast Guard.


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