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Raymond John Toner was born in Chicago, Illinois, on June 8, 1908, son of James A. and Virginia M. (Casey) Toner. He received his early education in Chicago, Illinois, including Tilden Technical High School and attended the US Naval Academy Preparatory School, Annapolis, Maryland. He later received the degree of Bachelor of Science in Educational Administration from Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, and his Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from Northwestern University Graduate School.
A writer and illustrator, he has had published two books, “Midshipman Davy Jones”, a Junior Literary Guild Selection (October 1938), and "Meeheevee,” an American Library Association Selection (1940). He has also written several articles, some of which have been published in the US Naval Institute Proceedings.
He entered Naval Service on June 15, 1926, and was commissioned Ensign, USNR, on January 21, 1933. Advancing progressively in rank, he subsequently attained that of Captain, to date from July 1, 1954, having transferred to the US Navy on September 18, 1946. Prior to August 1940 he served as Junior Division Officer, Division Officer and Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of the 19th, 21st, and 22nd Divisions, Organized Reserve in Chicago, Illinois and Michigan City, Indiana,
Ordered into active service, he reported in August 1940 as an Instructor in Seamanship and Navigation at the US Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School, Abbott Hall, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. He remained there following the United States entry into World War II, December 8, 1941, and until March 1942, when he became Instructor at the Submarine Chaser Training Center, Miami, Florida.
Two months later he assumed command of the USS PC 465, and in December 1942 transferred to command of the USS PC 1225.
In March 1943 he joined USS Reuben James as Executive Officer and in July of that year was detached for fitting out duty in USS Fleming at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, California. He commanded that destroyer escort from her commissioning, September 10, 1943 until February 1944, participating in the occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls. Ordered to the Brown Shipbuilding Company, Houston, Texas, he was in charge of fitting out USS Robert F. Keller and upon her commissioning, June 17, 1944 assumed command. After a period of trials and shakedown, the Robert F. Keller, under his command, participated in the attacks on Luzon, Formosa, China Coast and Nansei Shoto, and the assault on and occupation of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Between May and December 1945 he was in command of Escort Division EIGHTY-NINE, after which he served as Commander Task UNIT NINTY-FOUR POINT SEVEN POINT ONE. Returning to the United States in February 1945, he became Commanding Officer of the Service School, Bainbridge, Maryland, and in May 1947 reported as Commanding Officer of the Service School at Norfolk, Virginia.
He next had instruction, March 1948-August 1950, at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, and in September assumed command of USS English. “For meritorious service… (in that capacity) from October 13, 1950 to April 19, 1951, while attached to Task Force NINETY-FIVE…” he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V.” The citation further states in part:
"Under the capable direction of Commander Toner, the USS ENGLISH ably performed varied and exacting duties, including direct gunfire support for friendly forces ashore, and bombardment, inter diction, and counter-battery fire along the east and west coasts of Korea. He was also active in the support of the X-Corps during the evacuation of Hungnam, Korea, gunfire support during the HTMS PHASAE operations, the siege of Wonsan, Korea, patrol and blockade and providing flagship facilities for Commander Destroyer Squadron SIXTEEN. On three occasions, the USS ENGLISH was subjected to enemy gunfire but timely and accurate counter-battery fire and skillful maneuvering, he escaped damage and assisted in silencing the enemy gunfire from shore batteries. Although constantly threatened by mines through prolonged periods of operation in mineable waters, his vigilant and accurate navigation prevented any damage…”
Detached from command of English in July 1952, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia. Completing the course there in January 1953, he next had temporary duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, prior to reporting in May 1953 as Chief of the Naval Mission to Ecuador, with headquarters at Quito. In August 1955 he became Head of the Plans, Policy and Foreign Naval Training Branch, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. After two years he served as Commanding Officer of USS Mississinewa (A0-144), and later commanded the NROTC unit at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Under orders of March 15, 1962 he returned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department for duty.
In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” Captain Toner has the Naval Reserve Medal with star; the American Defense Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star and four bronze stars (nine engagements); the American Campaign Medal: World War II Victory Medal; China service Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal; United Nations Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He also has the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon with four palms and the Order of Aldon Calderon, First Class, from the Government of Ecuador.