From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Paul Riley '37

Date of birth: April 12, 1913

Date of death: June 4, 1942

Age: 29

Lucky Bag

From the 1937 Lucky Bag:


From Find A Grave:

Jason Daniel "JD" Riley and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Nealie Williams were married on 19 April 1908 in Garland county, Arkansas. They were parents of at least four children: Mildred Laverne, Paul James, James Whitcomb, and Edith Sarah Riley. Paul, James and Sarah graduated from Hot Springs High School. Paul and James served in the Armed Forces during WWII.

Paul enlisted in the Naval Reserve 12 Dec 1931. Several years later, he received an nomination from Arkansas to the Naval Academy and entered on 26 Jun 1933. Four years later he graduated with the USNA class on 03 Jun 1937, and was commissioned an Ensign, USN. …

He began his mandatory sea duty tour in late June 1937 aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-3). He detached from USS Saratoga in June 1939 and began flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola later that month. He completed his flight training under instruction and was designated a naval aviator 22 May 1940. He was promoted on 03 Jun 1940 to Lieutenant Junior Grade (Ltjg.). Later that month he detached from NAS Pensacola and reported for temporary duty to the 11th Naval District in San Diego, CA. The following month, on 22 July 1940, Ltjg Riley boarded the USS Neosho (AO-23), a Cimarron-class fleet oiler, as a passenger in San Diego, CA enroute from the 11th Naval District to Pearl Harbor, T.H., for further transfer (FFT) to the USS Enterprise (CV-6). On 28 July he reported for duty with Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6) aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6). He was promoted to Lieutenant on 6 Jan 1942.

Early on the morning of 1 Feb 1942 aircraft from the USS Yorktown and the USS Enterprise attacked enemy targets in the Marshall Island group. Lt Riley was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions against enemy Japanese forces that day.

Approximately four months later on the morning of 4 Jun 1942, pilot Lt Riley and his radioman-gunner ARM2 EdwinJohn Mushinski launched their torpedo plane from Enterprise along with other members of VT-6 and Air Group Six to attack the Japanese striking force that was near Midway. Separated from their covering fighter protection, VT-6, comprised of 14 torpedo planes, pressed their attack even though overwhelmed by superior numbers of Japanese fighter aircraft. One by one the planes of VT-6 were shot down. Of the 14 planes only four returned to Enterprise. Lt Riley and Petty Officer Mushinski did not return. According to the USS Enterprise Battle of Midway after action report dated 8 Jun 1942, Lt Riley and ARM2 Mushinski were recorded as personnel losses in battle. Their remains were unrecoverable. They were missing in action on 04 Jun 1942 and presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943. In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Lt Riley was also awarded (posthumously) the Navy Cross, The Purple Heart, and the Presidential Unit Citation. bio compiled by G47

His sister was listed as next of kin. He has a memory marker in Arkansas.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Paul James Riley (NSN: 0-78730), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron SIX (VT-6), attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV-6), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942. Participating in a vigorous and intensive assault against the Japanese invasion fleet, Lieutenant Riley pressed home his attack with relentless determination in the face of a terrific barrage of anti-aircraft fire. The unprecedented conditions under which his squadron launched its offensive were so exceptional that it is highly improbably the occasion may ever recur where other pilots of the service will be called upon to demonstrate an equal degree of gallantry and fortitude. His extreme disregard of personal safety contributed materially to the success of our forces and his loyal conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 309 (December 1942)
Action Date: 4-Jun-42
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Company: Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6)
Division: U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Paul James Riley (NSN: 0-78730), United States Navy, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight during the operations of United States forces against Marshall Islands on 1 February 1942. With utter disregard for his own safety, despite intense and sustained enemy anti-aircraft fire. Lieutenant Riley developed the attack of the section he was leading against an enemy light cruiser in a most efficient and tenacious manner, which resulted in the destruction of an enemy ship.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 304 (July 1942)
Action Date: February 1, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Battalion: Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6)
Division: U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)


USS Riley (DE 579) was named for Paul; the ship was sponsored by his sister.

Class of 1937

Paul is one of 45 members of the Class of 1937 on Virtual Memorial Hall.