Admiral Richard L. Conolly

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Richard Lansing Conolly

Birthplace: Waukegan, Illinois
Death: March 01, 1962 (69)
Jamaica Bay, New York (airplane crash)
Place of Burial: 1 Memorial Avenue, Arlington, Arlington County, VA, 22211, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Ballentine Conolly and Cora B. Carhart
Husband of Helen Blanche Conolly
Father of Private; Private and Private
Brother of Private and Private

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Admiral Richard L. Conolly

Richard Lansing Conolly (April 26, 1892 – March 1, 1962) was a United States Navy Admiral, who served during World War I and World War II.


Conolly was born in Waukegan, Illinois, attended Lake Forest Academy and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, graduating in 1914. He was assigned to the battleship Virginia (BB-13) and served in Mexican waters. Between May–November 1915 he received training aboard Montana (ACR-13), and in March 1916 he was assigned to Vermont (BB-20) as Torpedo Officer.

World War I

Transferred in May 1916 to the destroyer Smith (DD-17), he was aboard her when the United States entered World War I in April 1917. Smith performed escort duty in European waters out of Brest, France.

Conolly was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in connection with the salvaging of the transport ship USS West Bridge, which was hit by two torpedoes launched by the German submarine U-107 in August 1918. Conolly, with a party of eight others remained on board the badly damaged ship for five days, steering by hand and handling the lines from the tugs, while the ship was towed 400 nautical miles (740 km) to port.

Inter-war period

He returned to the United States in November 1918, fitting out, and serving as Executive Officer of the destroyers Foote (DD-169), Worden (DD-288) and Hunt (DD-194) in turn. From August 1920 he studied electrical engineering at Annapolis and Columbia University, New York, receiving a Master of Science degree in June 1922. He then served aboard Mississippi (BB-41), transferring to New York (BB-34) in March 1924 to serve as assistant Engineer Officer until September 1925. He then returned to Annapolis, this time as an instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics.

In June 1927 he returned to sea as Engineer Officer of Concord (CL-10). In August 1929 he assumed command of the destroyer Du Pont (DD-152). He completed the junior course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island in May 1931, and remained on the staff for two years.

In May 1933 he reported as Aide and Flag Secretary on the staff of Commander Cruisers, Scouting Force, and from April 1935 until June 1936 he served as Navigator aboard the battleship Tennessee (BB-43). He then returned to the Naval Academy, serving as an instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics, and later in the Department of Seamanship and Navigation.

Conolly assumed command of Destroyer Division 7 in May 1939, transferring to Destroyer Squadron 6 on 30 January 1941. He was at sea, in command of DESRON 6 at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

World War II

He participated in the initial attack on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands on 1 February 1942, as part of the force under the command of Admiral William Halsey, Jr., and in April his destroyers served as escort for the aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-8) from which Lieutenant General J. H. Doolittle's aircraft took off for the first bombing raid on Tokyo. He also participated in a shore bombardment of Wake Island in command of the destroyers in Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance's Task Group.

Promoted to rear admiral in July 1942, he served on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) Fleet Admiral Ernest King.

Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly, pictured here on the right, alongside British Major General J. L. I. Hawkesworth aboard the USS Biscayne, 6 September 1943.

Between March and October 1943 Conolly served with the Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet, taking part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy. Transferred to the Pacific, he was with amphibious forces in the Pacific and participated in the landings on Kwajalein, Wake and Marcus Islands.

He commanded Group 3, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet during 1944 and 1945, and led the landings on Guam in July 1944, and the Lingayen Gulf in January 1945.

He gained the nickname "Close-In Conolly" from his insistence that fire support ships should be extremely close to the beach during amphibious assaults. Conolly believed that strong fortifications could be neutralized only by direct hits, which could only be achieved from the shortest possible range.


Conolly was naval representative to the 1946 Paris Peace Conference. He commanded the United States Twelfth Fleet from September 1946 until January 1947, then U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean from 1947 until 1950.

His last assignment was as President of the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, between 1950 and 1953. Conolly retired with the rank of admiral in November 1953, and was then the president of Long Island University until 1962.

On 1 March 1962 Admiral Conolly and his wife, Helen B. Conolly, were passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 1, which crashed into Jamaica Bay soon after take-off from Idlewild Airport, New York City, killing all 95 passengers and crew aboard.

Conolly is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The ship USS Conolly (DD-979), a Spruance-class destroyer, was named for Admiral Richard Lansing Conolly.

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Admiral Richard L. Conolly's Timeline

April 26, 1892
Waukegan, Illinois
March 1, 1962
Age 69
Jamaica Bay, New York
March 6, 1962
Age 69
Arlington National Cemetery, 1 Memorial Avenue, Arlington, Arlington County, VA, 22211, United States