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McConnell (DE-163)

(DE‑163: dp. 1,240; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 8'9"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 8 20mm., 3 21" tt., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.); cl. Cannon)

Riley Franklin McConnell, born 22 July 1884 at Gate City, Va., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy 7 June 1909. For over three decades he carried out a wide variety of assignments. During World War I he served as navigator in Arkansas; later, he had duty as executive officer in Ohio, Relief, and Chicago; and in 1935 and 1936 he commanded Milwaukee. Following instruction at the Naval War College, he served on the staff of Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, between 1925 and 1927. Commissioned captain 1 September 1934, he returned to the Asiatic Fleet and served as Chief of Staff from 30 October 1936 to 25 July 1939. For distinguished service during this period, he received the Navy Cross. He assumed command of the Naval Training Station at San Diego 22 August 1939 and died while on active duty there 12 July 1940.


McConnell (DE‑163) was laid down by Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newark, N.J., 19 October 1942; launched 28 March 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Grace Otteson McConnell; and commissioned at Brooklyn Navy Yard 28 May 1943, Comdr. D. D. Humphreys in command.

After shakedown off Bermuda and training out of Norfolk, McConnell sailed for the west coast 24 August, transited the Panama Canal the 31st, and reached San Francisco 10 September. Departing 10 days later, she escorted ships to Pearl Harbor, Samoa, New Caledonia, and the New Hebrides and on 29 October arrived off Guadalcanal, Solomons, for patrol and escort duty.

Assigned to Escort Division 11, McConnell carried out extensive escort and ASW patrol operations in the South Pacific during the next 7 months. Operating primarily out of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, she escorted ships to American bases throughout the Solomons from Tulagi to Bougainville, as well as to the Fijis and Samoa. She departed the Solomons 12 June 1944 in the screen of a convoy bound for the Marshalls and reached Eniwetok 18 June.

McConnell patrolled between Eniwetok and Kwajalein until 23 July when she sailed to escort ships carrying men and supplies for the recapture of Guam. She closed the western coast of Guam 28 July, protected off‑loading ships from enemy submarines, thence returned to Eniwetok in convoy 29 July to 2 August. Departing the Marshalls 20 August, she arrived Manus, Admiralties, the 26th; and, on 1 September, sailed with ships of the Logistics Support Group (TG 30.8). During much of the month she escorted oilers and supply ships as they replenished ships of the Fast Carrier Task Force, then carrying out devastating airstrikes in the Palaus and the Philippines. In October she screened logistics ships as they provided at‑sea support for the hard‑hitting carriers pounding enemy positions from Formosa to Mindanao.

McConnell departed Eniwetok 5 November, touched at Pearl Harbor the 12th, and reached San Francisco 22 November. Following overhaul at Mare Island, on 16 January she departed for Hawaii to perform, patrol and escort duties until sailing for the Marshalls 11 March. Between 24 March and 4 May she made three round trips to the Marianas and back while escorting convoys to Guam and Saipan.

McConnell steamed to Majuro 6 May and during the closing months of World War II patrolled off the bypassed islands in the Marshalls. She conducted periodic shore bombardments, and she provided air‑sea rescue service during airstrikes against enemy‑controlled islands. She rescued eight Marshallese natives off Jaluit 13 May. On the 14th, and again on the 21st, she captured two surrendering Japanese soldiers from Enejet and Bokku. Following the Japanese capitulation 15 August, she carried American occupation troops to Mille Atoll 28 August; at Jaluit, Japanese came aboard to surrender their forces on the island 5 September.

McConnell departed the Marshalls 16 September and steamed via the west coast to New York, arriving 20 October. She sailed to Green Cove Springs, Fla., 13 to 16 November, decommissioned there 29 June 1946, and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Into 1969, she remains with the Atlantic Inactive Fleet and is berthed at Norfolk.

McConnell received three battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Thu Apr 07 08:36:28 EDT 2016