Veterans Day Tribute to LT Paul Riley

Veterans Day Tribute to LT Paul Riley
Posted on 11/10/2019
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A Veteran’s Day Tribute to LT Paul Riley, from LCDR Sean M. Garrett, USN (Ret.), our Senior Navy Science Instructor for the HSWCHS NJROTC


As Veteran's Day arrives (tomorrow) and the weather gets colder, many Garland County resident veterans and government employees prepare to take a well-deserved day off, possibly enjoying a cup of coffee and sharing pictures of their military service online with their military brethren from far away. Some will take an opportunity to pay a visit to the recently re-dedicated Veteran's Memorial in Hot Springs, while others who are able will line the streets for Monday night's Veteran's Day parade.


A younger generation may get their first glimpse of action from World War II by attending this week's opening of the Lionsgate PG-13 action movie, "Midway." The movie stars Deadpool's Ed Skrein, as well as action movie favorites Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Ekhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson. The movie hopes to show a more realistic side of the attack on Pearl Harbor and focus on the following battle of Midway, seen by many as the turning point in the Pacific for World War II.


Not listed in the characters is a little-known hometown hero named Paul "Pablo" Riley, a 1931 graduate of Hot Springs High School who enlisted in the Naval Reserves in 1931. He was later accepted to the Naval Academy in 1933. Graduating in 1937, he was commissioned as an officer and began his sea duty assignments. In 1939, he began flight training in Pensacola and served as a pilot in the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. In 1942, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his action against Japanese forces in the Marshal Islands, and fought in the Battle of Midway as a part of VT-6, a torpedo plane squadron that went up against vastly superior Japanese fighters. Ten of the fourteen aircraft from VT-6 were shot down during the engagement, with Paul Riley and Petty Officer Mushinski, his radioman and gunner, presumed dead.

Lieutenant Riley was awarded the Navy Cross for his efforts posthumously, along with the Purple Heart, and the Presidential Unit Citation.


His efforts in the war did not end with his death. USS Riley (DE 579) was sponsored by Paul's sister and earned two Combat Stars for service during WWII, serving in the same theaters of operation as another noted Hot Spring High School Naval Officer: Rear Admiral Thomas Becton. Rear Admiral Becton won acclaim in actions off the Beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and later commanded the destroyer USS Laffey, "The Ship That Would Not Die." Becton and the USS Laffey were rumored to be the subjects of a potential Mel Gibson movie, "Destroyer."


LT Paul Riley is remembered in Hot Springs with both mention on the Veteran's Memorial and with his own monument at Greenwood cemetery. Please take a moment to remember him and the many other notable Garland County veterans this Monday, November 11th. 


Hot Springs World Class High School maintains a proud military heritage, and hosts Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, celebrating its 50th year of service. The unit and the Hot Springs World Class High School Marching Band are scheduled to participate in the Veteran's Day Parade. 


A portrait of LT Paul Riley was produced by Senior Art Student Rachel Tyler, Hot Springs World Class High School. Her outstanding oil painting was completed in the same school year her work was featured in HER magazine. Mrs. Tyler's portfolio is proudly featured in Hot Springs World Class High School and regional art shows.



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