Herbert Douglas Riley (December 24, 1904 – January 17, 1973) was a vice admiral of the United States Navy. A naval aviator, his career included service in World War II and the Cold War, command of aircraft carriers, and various staff assignments.
Riley was born on December 24, 1904 in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1927. After serving aboard the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40), he underwent flight training and became a naval aviator.
During the 1930s, Riley served as a pilot in Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) embarked aboard the light cruiser USS Cincinnati (CL-6), Scouting Squadron Five (VS-5) aboard the light cruiser USS Richmond (CL-9), Patrol Squadron One (VP-1), Patrol Squadron Ten (VP-10), Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4), and the aviation unit of the heavy cruiser USS Portland (CA-33). He then served a tour at Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C., as a pilot for VIPs and while stationed there married the daughter of the Chief of the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics, Rear Admiral John H. Towers. From 1940 to 1941, Riley was on the staff of Commander, Carrier Division One and on the staff of Commander, Patrol Wings.
World War II
After the United States entered World War II, Riley had temporary duty Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands during the Guadalcanal campaign in the latter half of 1942. He had duty in the Bureau of Aeronautics from 1943 to 1944. He commanded the escort aircraft carrier USS Makassar Strait (CVE-91) in operations against the Japanese in the Pacific from 1944 to 1945, including combat during the Okinawa campaign. When the war ended in August 1945 he was the operations officer on the staff of Vice Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, who was the prospective Commander, First Carrier Task Force.
In 1946, Riley served on the staff of Joint Task Force One during Operation Crossroads, a series of atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. In the late 1940s he had duty in the Strategic Plans Section of the office of the Chief of Naval Operations and served as an assistant to United States Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal and his successor Louis A. Johnson, and then was student at the National War College.
In the early 1950s, Riley became the assistant chief of staff for plans on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief Atlantic, Commander-in-Chief United States Atlantic Fleet, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)'s Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. From November 7, 1952 to August 10, 1953, as a captain, he was the commanding officer of the attack aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43). He then became chief of staff to Rear Admiral Hugh H. Goodwin, who was Commander, Carrier Division Two.
Riley then returned to duty in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, serving in the International Affairs Division. He next was Commander, Carrier Division One. From February 1958 to May 1961 he was chief of staff for United States Pacific Command, serving under Admiral Felix B. Stump and his successor, Admiral Harry D. Felt. In the early 1960s he was Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations and Readiness. He concluded his career with a tour as Director of the Joint Staff for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from February 25, 1962 to February 23, 1964 and retired as a vice admiral.
Awards and decorations
During his career, Riley received the Distinguished Service Medal.
Riley died on January 17, 1973. He is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland, where his headstone proclaims him to have been a "ninth-generation Marylander."