Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

McGonagle, William L.

McGonagle, William L.

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Captain, USN, (1925-1999)

William Loren McGonagle was born in Wichita, Kansas, on 19 November 1925 and attended secondary school and college in California. He was active in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and was commissioned in the rank of Ensign upon graduation from the University of Southern California in June 1947. After service in the destroyer Frank Knox and minesweeper Partridge during 1947-50, he served in the minesweeper Kite during the extensive Korean War minesweeping operations that earned her a Presidential Unit Citation. From 1951 to 1966, he was assigned to various positions ashore and afloat, including command of the fleet tug Mataco in 1957-58 and the salvage ship Reclaimer in 1961-63.


In April 1966, Commander McGonagle became Commanding Officer of the technical research ship Liberty, taking her on a number of communications and electronic emissions monitoring missions during the next year. On 8 June 1967, while carrying out her important function off the Sinai Peninsula during the war between Israel and Egypt, Liberty was attacked and severely damaged by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats. For his heroism on that occasion, Commander McGonagle was awarded the Medal of Honor and his ship received the Presidential Unit Citation.


After promotion to the rank of Captain in October 1967, McGonagle commanded the new ammunition ship Kilauea and led the NROTC Unit at the University of Oklahoma. He retired from active duty in 1974. Captain William L. McGonagle died at Palm Springs, California, on 3 March 1999.


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