Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

McDonnell, Edward O.

McDonnell, Edward O.

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Vice Admiral, USNR (Retired), (1891-1960)

Edward Orrick McDonnell was born on 13 November 1891 in Baltimore, Maryland. Appointed from that same state to the U.S. Naval Academy, he graduated as an Ensign in July 1912 and served in succession on board USS New Jersey, the cruiser Montana, USS Florida and USS Montgomery. In March 1914, he reported to USS Prairie and participated in the intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico. On 21 and 22 April, while under continual fire and at an exposed post, McDonnell established a signal station to ensure effective communications between troops and ships. For his "extraordinary heroism," he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Following aeronautical instruction at the Wright Company at Dayton, Ohio, and flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, he was designated a Naval Aviator in March 1915, then remained at Pensacola as an aviation instructor. In June 1915, McDonnell was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade.


In June 1917, McDonnell became an instructor at Naval Air Station Huntington Bay, Long Island, New York. That July, he was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant. During World War I, he served at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. At the end of the year, he reported to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters and took part in air campaigns in France and Italy. In September 1918, McDonnell was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant Commander and was assigned to USS Texas while aircraft was installed. In January 1919, he served at the Bureau of Navigation and the Office of Naval Operations. In January 1920, McDonnell resigned and entered the active reserves. During this time, he had periods of active duty on board USS Wright and at Naval Air Station, Pensacola. Following promotion to Commander in July 1940, he was a Naval Observer on the first flight of Pan American Airways to Oceania. While still in reserves, he returned to active duty that October at the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C.. Early in the new year, he was assigned as the Attache for Air in London,England, and transferred as such for duty at the American Embassy at Peiping (now known as Beijing), China.


In July 1941, McDonnell commanded the Naval Air Station at New York City while also serving as the District Aviation Officer for the Third Naval District. That December, he was promoted to Captain, which was followed by a promotion to Rear Admiral the following year. In June 1943, he reported to Commandant, Naval Air Training Center, Corpus Christi, Texas, and transferred in the area to Chief of Naval Air Intermediate Training Command. In May 1944, McDonnell assumed command of USS Long Island and later transferred to command the escort carrier Nehenta Bay. After World War II, he was Special Assistant to the Flight Pay Board at the Office of the Deputy Chief of the Naval Operations. In December 1945, he was relieved from active duty. Upon transfer to the reserve retired list in December 1951, he was promoted to Vice Admiral. On 6 January 1960, Edward O. McDonnell was a casualty on a commerical plane crash in North Carolina. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.


USS Edward McDonnell (DE-1043, later FF-1043), 1965-1992, was named in honor of Vice Admiral Edward O. McDonnell.


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