Richard Lansing Conolly – Admiral, United States Navy

Connolly, Richard L.

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
U.S.S. Westbridge
Date Of Action: August 15 – 20, 1918


The Navy Cross is awarded to Lieutenant Richard L. Connolly, U.S. Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession on the occasion of the torpedoing of the Westbridge, when he, with a party of eight others remained on board for five days steering by hand and handling the lines from the tugs, while the ship was towed four hundred miles to port.

A native of Waukegan, Illinois, Richard Lansing Conolly attended Lake Forrest Academy, Lake Forrest, Illinois prior to his appointment in 1910 to the Naval Academy. After graduation in 1914 he was ordered to Mexican waters where he served in USS VIRGINIA. He continued duty in that battleship until May 1915, when he reported aboard USS MONTANA for torpedo instruction. In November 1915 he rejoined VIRGINIA, and in March 1916 he was assigned to USS VERMONT as Torpedo Officer of that battleship for two months. Transferred in May 1916 to USS SMITH, he was aboard that destroyer when the United States entered World War I, in April 1917, and served aboard SMITH while she performed escort duty in European waters out of Brest, France.

He was awarded the Navy Cross for services while attached to SMITH in connection with salvaging the transport WESTBRIDGE, torpedoed by a German submarine in August 1918, as follows: “For distinguished service in the line of his profession on the occasion of the torpedoing of the WESTBRIDGE, when he, with a party of eight others remained on board for five days steering by hand and handling the lines from the tugs, while the ship was towed four hundred miles to port.”

Detached from SMITH in November 1918, he returned to the United States. Until August 1920, he had consecutive duty in connection with fitting out, and as Executive Officer in turn of the destroyers FOOTE, WORDEN, and HUNT. From August 1920 until June 1922 he was under instruction in electrical engineering at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland, and Columbia University, New York, where he received a Master of Science. He continued instruction at various Naval activities until September 1922, and in November of that year joined USS MISSISSIPPI. In March 1924 he was transferred to USS NEW YORK, and served as assistant Engineer Officer of that battleship until September 1925.

After duty as an instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, September 1925 until June 1927, he returned to sea as Engineer Officer of USS CONCORD. In August 1929 he assumed command of USS DUPONT. He completed the junior course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island 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 in April 1935 was ordered to USS TENNESSEE. He served as Navigator of that battleship until June 1936, after which he again had duty, until May 1939, as an instructor at the Naval Academy, first in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics, and later in the Department of Seamanship and Navigation, acting as head of the latter department for six months in 1938.

Assuming command of Destroyer Division 7 in May 1939, he was transferred to duty as Commander Destroyer Squadron 6 on January 30, 1941. He was at sea, in command of Destroyer Squadron 6 at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He subsequently participated in the initial attack on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands on February 1, 1942, as part of the gun bombardment force under command of Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.; and in April his destroyers served as escort for the aircraft carrier HORNET from which Lieutenant General J. H. Doolittle's Army planes took off for the first bombing of Tokyo. He also participated in a shore bombardment of Wake Island in command of destroyers in Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance's Task Group.


USS CONOLLY was the 17th SPRUANCE – class destroyer and the first ship in the Navy named after Admiral Richard Lansing Conolly. USS CONOLLY was last homeported in Mayport, Fla., and is currently hold on donation at the Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for future use as a floating museum.


March 4, 1962 – Funeral services will be held tomorrow in New York City and Tuesday in Washington for Admiral Richard L. Conolly, 69, and his wife, Helen, who were killed Thursday in the American Airlines jet liner crash in New York.  The Admiral was a native of Waukegan, Lake County.

His sister, Harriet, and brother and sister-in-law, Mrs. And Mrs. Robert C. Conolly, all of Gurnee, Lake County, left yesterday for New York City, where services will be held in St. Thomas Episcopal Cathedral.  Services Tuesday will be in the National Cathedral in Washington.  Admiral Conolly and his wife will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Washington Rites Precede Interment at Arlington

WASHINGTON, March 6, 1962 – A funeral service was held today at the National Cathedral for Admiral and Mrs. Richard L. Conolly, who died last week in the crash of a jet plane in Jamaica Bay near New York’s International Airport.

Burial followed at Arlington National Cemetery.

Several hundred persons attended the service including Allen W. Dulles, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency; General James A. Van Fleet and more than a dozen admirals.

The Very Rev. Francis B. Thaver, Jr., dean of the Cathedral conducted the service.

Admiral Conolly was president of Long Island University at his death.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/26/1892
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/01/1962


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 01/31/1897
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/01/1962


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