Capt. Riley Franklin McConnell was born on July 22,1884 at Gate City, Va. In June of 1905, he was appointed to the Naval Academy.
Following graduation in 1906, he transferred to USS Vermont and made a world cruise from 1907 to 1909. Following duty on USS Des Moines as senior engineer officer in 1912, he became the Radio Officer at the Mare Island Navy Yard. This duty involved supervisoin of all shore radio stations from San Diego to the Pribiloff Islands. In June, 1915, he took command of USS Fortune IN Samoa. After more than two years in Samoa, he built the radio station at Pago Pago. By 1917, he was a lieutenant commander.
His next duty was as the navigator assigned to the Sixth Battle Squadron on USS Arkansas. This ship was part of the British Grand Fleet until after the Armisticie in 1918. He was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet and in January, 1919, he reported to the commandand, third Naval District as district radio material officer.
In 1920, Capt. McConnell was the executive officer of USS Ohio. He was the last commanding officer of USS Iowa, which was converted into a radio controlled target and sunk by gunfire in Panama Bay in February, 1923. After the Iowa was sunk, he was attached to USS Oglala, then called Shawmut.
He graduated from the Naval War College in 1924 and became the torpedo officer at the Newport Torpedo Statoin. In September, 1925, he was detailed as operations officer on the staff of Adm. C. S. Williams, commander-in-chief, U.S. Asiatic Fleet and in 1927, he was stationed at the Bureau of Navigation. He became the first executive officer of USS Chicago in 1930.
In 1933, he began a three-year tour as aide to the governor of Hawaii and in July, 1935, he took command of USS Milwaukee.
In 1936, he reported to the commander-in-chief, U.S. Asiatic Fleet as chief of staff and aide to Adm. Harry E. Yarnoll and was awarded the Navy Cross for his services there.
Capt. McConnell reported to NTC in Aug., 1939 and was the second commanding officer to die on duty. He died on July 12, 1940.
During his career, he also received the Haitian Campaign Medal, the Yangtze Service Medal, and the Victory Medal (Grand Fleet Clasp).
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