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Riley, Herbert D. (1904-1973)

Riley, Herbert D. (1904-1973)
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Based on 14 interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., from April 1971 to May 1972. The volume contains 562 pages of interview transcript plus a comprehensive index. The transcript is copyright 2004 by the U.S. Naval Institute; permission is required from Lynne L. Riley, the admiral’s daughter, in order to cite or quote the oral history in published works.

This memoir focuses heavily on the interviewee’s experiences in naval aviation. Once he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1927, Riley served in the battleship New Mexico (BB-40) and had to be persistent to get into flight training. Aviation assignments in the 1930s included service in Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) with the cruiser Cincinnati (CL-6), Scouting Squadron Five (VS-5) with the cruiser Richmond (CL-9), Patrol Squadron One, Patrol Squadron Ten, Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) in the Ranger (CV-4), the aviation unit of the heavy cruiser Portland (CA-33), and Anacostia Naval Air Station. In the billet at Anacostia he was a pilot for VIPs and married the daughter of Rear Admiral John Towers, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1940-41 Riley served on the staff of Commander Carrier Division One and on the staff of Commander Patrol Wings. He had temporary duty in 1942 on Guadalcanal and in 1943-44 served in the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1944-45 he commanded the escort carrier Makassar Strait (CVE-91) and at war’s end in 1945 was operations officer on the staff of the prospective Commander First Carrier Task Force, Vice Admiral Frederick Sherman. In 1946 Riley was on the staff of Joint Task Force One, during Operation Crossroads. Shore duty in the late 1940s included service in the Strategic Plans Section of OpNav, as an assistant to two Secretaries of Defense, James Forrestal and Louis Johnson, and as a student at the National War College. In the early 1950s he was assistant chief of staff for plans on the staff of CinCLant-CinCLantFlt-SACLant, commanded the aircraft carrier Coral Sea (CVA-43), and was chief of staff to Commander Carrier Division Two, Rear Admiral Hugh H. Goodwin. After duty in the International Affairs Division of OpNav, Riley served as Commander Carrier Division One and from February 1958 to May 1961 was Chief of Staff of the Pacific Command serving Admiral Felix B. Stump and Admiral Harry D. Felt. The oral history concludes with Riley’s service in the early 1960s as Deputy CNO (Operations and Readiness), OP-03, and as Director of the Joint Staff.


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