Russell Francis Flynn was born in Leesville, Connecticut, on August 15, 1918, son of Henry Patrick and Olive E. (Crocker) Flynn. He attended Nathan Hale High School, East Haddam, Cannecticut and the National Preparatory Academy, Cornwall-on-hudson, New York. From July 1937 to June 1938 he was attached to the Thirteenth Infantry, US Army as a Private and attended the West Point Preparatory School, Fort Williams, Maine. In 1938 he entered the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state. Graduated with the Class of 1942, on December 19, 1941 (course accelerated due to wartime emergency), and commissioned Ensign, he subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date from July 1, 1961.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1941, he joined USS Mississippi and participated in the Attu occupation before he was detached in July 1943 for instruction in applied communications at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland. In July 1944 he reported as Communications Officer on board USS Pennsylvania and while attached to that battleship saw action during the capture and occupation of Guam and the Palau Islands and the landings at Leyte and Lingayen Gulf. He was on board the Pennsylvania when she was damaged by an enemy aircraft torpedo in the Okinawa area on August 12, 1945. He is entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facimile of the Navy Unit Commendation awarded the Pennsylvania.
In November 1945 he joined USS Iowa as Communications Officer and in December 1947 transferred to USS Gainard to serve as Executive Officer until September 1948. Following an assignment as Communications Instructor at the General Line School, Monterey, California, he reported in January 1952 as Communications Officer on the Staff of Commander Carrier Division Sixteen. From June 1953 until October 1954 he was Executive Officer of USS Watts, after which he was attached to the Fleet Operations Section, Division of Naval Communications, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
He assumed command of USS Harold J. Ellison (DD-864) in June 1957 and in August 1959 was detached from that destroyer for duty as an Instructor at the Atlantic Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical School, Norfolk, Virginia. In December 1960 he joined the Staff of the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet and in March 1963 assumed command of USS Mt. McKinley (AGC-7). In February 1964 he was designated Commanding Officer of the Naval Communication Station, Norfolk, Virginia.
In addition to the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Captain Flynn has the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four operations stars; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia and Europe Clasps; National Defense Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars.