Riley, Herbert D. (1904-1973)
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Vice Admiral Herbert D. Riley was at The Battle of Guadacanal WWII, Okinawa. He commanded the USS Coral Sea from 1952-1953
Once he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1927, Riley served in the battleship New Mexico (BB-40) and had to be persistent to get into flight training. Aviation assignments in the 1930s included service in Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) with the cruiser Cincinnati (CL-6), Scouting Squadron Five (VS-5) with the cruiser Richmond (CL-9), Patrol Squadron One, Patrol Squadron Ten, Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) in the Ranger (CV-4), the aviation unit of the heavy cruiser Portland (CA-33), and Anacostia Naval Air Station. In the billet at Anacostia he was a pilot for VIPs and married the daughter of Rear Admiral John Towers, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1940-41 Riley served on the staff of Commander Carrier Division One and on the staff of Commander Patrol Wings. He had temporary duty in 1942 on Guadalcanal and in 1943-44 served in the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1944-45 he commanded the escort carrier Makassar Strait (CVE-91) and at war’s end in 1945 was operations officer on the staff of the prospective Commander First Carrier Task Force, Vice Admiral Frederick Sherman. In 1946 Riley was on the staff of Joint Task Force One, during Operation Crossroads. Shore duty in the late 1940s included service in the Strategic Plans Section of OpNav, as an assistant to two Secretaries of Defense, James Forrestal and Louis Johnson, and as a student at the National War College. In the early 1950s he was assistant chief of staff for plans on the staff of CinCLant-CinCLantFlt-SACLant, commanded the aircraft carrier Coral Sea (CVA-43), and was chief of staff to Commander Carrier Division Two, Rear Admiral Hugh H. Goodwin. After duty in the International Affairs Division of OpNav, Riley served as Commander Carrier Division One and from February 1958 to May 1961 was Chief of Staff of the Pacific Command serving Admiral Felix B. Stump and Admiral Harry D. Felt. Riley’s service in the early 1960s was as Deputy CNO (Operations and Readiness), OP-03, and as Director of the Joint Staff.
Coral Sea Fires Shots in Anger First Time in Her 18 Year Career Against North Viet Nam
On the morning of December 7,1964 Coral Sea gracefully slid under the Golden Gate Bridge departing San Francisco and beginning an adventure that she had never experienced in her eighteen year career. This unexpected experience would last for nearly one year.
Shortly after departing San Francisco Coral Sea was forced to enter the Navy yards at Pearl Harbor for major repairs to several boilers. Coral Sea remained in Hawaii for a delightful stay of many warm and sunny days enjoyed by her crew on Waikiki Beach.
On January 15,1965 change of command ceremonies were conducted on board Coral Sea. Captain George L .Cassell assumed command from Captain Pierre Charbonnet. On the following day Coral Sea departed Pearl Harbor for operations in the Western Pacific with the 7* Fleet.
On February 6,1965 Coral Sea. which was a part of Task Force 77. was notified that guerilla attacks took place against American advisor barracks in South Viet Nam. Several American military advisors were killed and a number of others were injured.
Early in the morning of February 7,1965 Coral Sea, Hancock and Ranger, all part of Task Force 77. were ordered to rendezvous at a designated point and conduct retaliatory air strikes into North Viet Nam because of these attacks. This was the largest single U.S. Navy air effort since the Korean War. This sea period for Coral Sea which began January 16,1965 would continue for 50 days. Only six months previously North Vietnamese torpedo boats fired torpedoes upon two U.S. Navy destroyers, the Turner Joy and Maddox while on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin. Neither destroyer was hit because of evasive maneurvers taken by the destroyers. The two destroyers returned fire upon the torpedo boats and sunk two of them. Aircraft from aircraft carriers Ticonderoga and Constellation retaliated against torpedo boat bases and fuel dumps In North Viet Nam. These air strikes were total successes.
During her December 7,1964 - November 1,1965 deployment to Southeast Asia Coral Sea was named "Ship of the Year" by Our Navy Magazine. During this time her air wing flew over 10,000 sorties. This was a record number for any carrier in the U.S. Navy during a single combat deployment. Her pilots logged 16,500 launches and 15,000 arrested landings without serious incident since her departure from the U.S. mainland. The average pilot flew over 100 combat missions. Tonnage of ordnance dropped on enemy sites was over 6,000 tons. This was a much higher rate than ever before in naval aviation. Also a significant number of aviators of her air wing sacrificed their lives in this effort. Of those Include Peter Mongilardi, Jr., Harry Eugene Thomas, Kenneth Edward Hume. Edward Andrew Dickson, William Marshall Roark, Edward Brendan Shaw, David Allen Kardell, Dwight Glenn Frakes, Andrew Lee Furrer, Wendell Burke Rivers (MIA), Robert Harper Shumaker (MIA), and Charles Bernard Goodwin (MIA).
On October 2,1965 Coral Sea claimed 150,000 arrested landings in her 18 year career of which no other carrier at that time could claim. She also conducted over 150 major UNREPS and also won the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award for Naval Aviation Safety in which for five months was heavily engaged in the most intense combat operations since WWII. The Navy Unit Commendation for combat operations in Southeast Asia was also awarded to her.
When Coral Sea arrived in San Francisco on November 1,1965 a 975 foot pennant held up by helium balloons flew from the yardarm of the carrier. Coral Sea was greeted under the Golden Gate Bridge by numerous yachts and fireboats that spouted fountains of water in celebration for the famed naval aircraft carrier returning home from a lengthy combat deployment.