William Robert O'Connell
November 2, 1927 – October 27, 2019
Captain William Robert O’Connell, US Navy, Retired, died peacefully in his home on October 27, 2019. He was born November 2, 1927 in Coffeyville, Kansas, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold O’Connell. Bill attended Holy Name Church where he was an Altar Server. He attended Holy Name Elementary School through the 8th grade, Roosevelt Junior High School for the 9th Grade, and graduated from Field Kindley High school in 1945. Captain O’Connell joined the Navy in 1945, and was assigned to Pensacola, FL for Flight School, becoming a Midshipman in 1949. His class of 125 were assigned to the USS Valley Forge for their first cruise on the carrier; this was the first time since 1776 that US Midshipmen had been in combat. He served in the Navy for 34 years: in bombing squadron VA55 in the Korean War aboard the Valley Forge CV45, and assignments on land including the Pentagon and the Army, Navy, and National War Colleges. Captain O’Connell was Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of the VF 213 squadron, serving in Vietnam combat aboard the USS Kitty Hawk CV63 from 1964 to1966. In 1967-1968 as a fighter pilot, he was Operations Officer of the USS Enterprise. During his time in the Navy, Captain O’Connell earned numerous citations, including the Gallantry in Action and the Flight Aviation Medal with 22 stars. At his retirement, he had logged more than 5,700 hours in his log book. Clearly, he loved the Navy well before he was even old enough to enlist. Captain O’Connell’s love for and faithfulness to his wife of 68 years, Philomena Ridgway O’Connell of Coffeyville, and his daughters Anne, Kathleen, and Erin, and their husbands Richard, Joseph, and Peter was abundant and never failing. He is also survived by loving grandchildren Meghan, Katie, Ryan, Shannon, Sheila, Molly, Colleen, and spouses, as well as his great grandchildren Luke and Annabelle. He will be dearly missed and forever loved by his family. May God bless and keep this brave, loving, and strong husband, with Eternal Rest.
- Visitation Thursday, October 31, 2019
- Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, November 2, 2019