Richard Joseph Coad was born in New York, New York, on June 3, 1922, son of Richard and Lillian Coad. He graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York, in June 1942 and served on board the USS Shooting Star from July 1942 until June 1943. While on board that merchant ship, he was commissioned Ensign, USNR, on March 21, 1943. He subsequently advanced in rank to the Captain, to date from July 1, 1963, having transferred to the Regular Navy on April 16, 1947.
Detached from the Shooting Star in 1943, his first naval assignment was on board the USS Rutiliucs (AK-43) as First Lieutenant. He transferred, in a similar capacity to the USS Hamblen (APA-112) in January 1946. He reported as Damage Control Officer on board the USS Missouri (BB-63) in March 1947, and in July 1949 began instruction at Columbia University, New York, attached to the US Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit.
In June 1951 he became Assistant Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander Military Sea Transportation Service, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, headquartered in London. He had instruction at the US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, from July 1953 until February 1954, then assumed duties as Executive Officer of the USS Cony (DDE-598). In February 1956 he reported for instruction at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, and in July 1956 became Plans Officer on the Staff of Commander Amphibious Group Two.
He was Assistant Operations Officer on the Joint Staff, Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet from June 1958 until June of the following year when he reported to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island for instruction. He commanded the USS Taylor (DDE-469) during the period Julyn1960 to March 1963, and was Executive Officer on board the USS Providence (CLG-6) for the following three months. In June 1963 he joined the Staff of Commander Amphibious Force, US Pacific Fleet as Assistant Plans Officer. He served as Commanding Officer of the USS Winston (AKA-94) from March 1965 to April 1966, and in July, that year, joined the Joint Staff, Office of the Joint Chief of Staff, Washington, DC
In September 1968 he enrolled in the Degree Completion Programs, George Washington University, DC He was ordered detached in December 1968 for duty as Commander Amphibious Squadron Eleven.
Captain Coad has the American Defense Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal ( three stars); World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; Europe and Asia Clasps; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; the Vietnam Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with star.