The PT Boat Forum

» Forum Category: PT Boats of WWII

» Forum Name: PT Boats - General

» Topic: Last Voyage

I am sorry to advise the group of the passing on August 11, 2010 of my father, Randall J. McConnell, Jr. at the age of 90. After a very hectic summer I am finally getting around to notifying folks of Dad’s passing.

Dad attended Columbia Midshipman School beginning in August 1943 and was appointed as an Ensign. Following the PT Training Center he was assigned as Third Officer of PT 361 at Treasury Island in November 1944. He eventually became CO of the 361 and was promoted to Lt (jg) in March 1945. Dad participated in numerous RON 27 actions in the Philippines, New Guinea and Borneo, including the invasion of Corregidor, the capture of El Fraile Island, and several of MacArthur’s “returns”. He left the 361 in July 1945 and the war ended while he was in transit to San Francisco. Dad received an honorable discharge from the USNR in July 1954. Among his many lifelong friends from RON 27 were Bill Ward (PT 360) and Ray Shafer (PT 375). We heard from Bill’s wife of his passing just a few months before Dad.

Dad also had a long and distinguished career as a trial attorney in Pittsburgh, PA. He is survived by Edna, his wife of 65 years, four children and their spouses, five grandchildren, and his sister Mary. He was buried with full military honors at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.

The last few months were very difficult for Dad. However, during my final visits from Denver he took great pleasure in looking at pictures I loaded onto my laptop from his time in PT boats, from sports car races that he, my brother and I attended, and of vacations with all generations of his family. Although it was difficult seeing his physical decline, those moments looking at pictures will always be valued. For the remaining PT veterans out there, please be assured that his time in the PT service and the people he served with were very important to him.

My mother cannot live alone now and we have been cleaning out their house. This has led to us to finding some PT photos and memorabilia that even I didn’t know about. As time permits I will share some of those items with this group and hopefully you will find them interesting.

My Dad and my grandfather, R.J. McConnell, Esq. were both avid photographers, much to our benefit. My brother is in the process of trying to sort thousands of photos ranging from the 1920’s up to this year. I would like to share a few of those pictures with the group and, again, hope that you find them of interest. Brief captions are provided with each.

Signing off for now, as the last of the line,

Randy McC ( Randall J. McConnell III )

Circa 1934 with his sisters Mary and Helen

Biak Island – Dad had framed copies of this picture and the following one in his home office along with other items from his Navy service. When he finally came to grips with the fact that he would not be able to return home, he asked for these two pictures and several family photos to hang in his room at the nursing home.

PT 361 at speed, 1945 – I once heard a family friend ask Dad why he never bought a boat after being in the Navy. He answered that there was nothing he could buy that could begin to compare to a PT boat, it would just be too tame.

Lt. (jg) Randall J. McConnell and Edna C. King in 1945, shortly before their marriage.

George Sobering, Don Sobering, myself and Dad at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1993. Don and I have raced together for over 30 years but this was the only time that our fathers were both at the track. Note the caps on the old guys – PT Boats Inc. and the Canadian Warplane Heritage. George was a decorated Lancaster pilot in the RAF and was very active in the CWH. He maintained his multi-engine ratings well into the 1990’s so he could fly the CWH Lancaster. The two men that could “stare down anybody” got along quite well, maybe something about big, noisy V-12 engines. When George passed away several years ago the CWH Lancaster flew over the cemetery near Toronto during his service. Not quite possible with a PT boat, but the 21 gun salute at Dad’s service was still impressive.

Posted By: PRJM3 | Posted on: Nov 4, 2010 - 9:00pm
Total Posts: 56 | Joined: May 25, 2009 - 2:47pm


This is always a most difficult time in anyone's life to loose a Father. Like you, I was very close to my Dad , spending the better part of twenty plus years boating on our favorite Lake. We got to talk about a great deal over the years, and I still miss him today. Rest assured that your Dad is once again at the Wheel of PT-361, stering a course across the clouds, and meeting up with those PT SAILORS that went before him. God bless you and your Family during this difficult time, and thak you for sharing these photo's..................

Posted By: Frank J Andruss Sr | Posted on: Nov 4, 2010 - 10:07pm
Total Posts: 3179 | Joined: Oct 9, 2006 - 6:09am

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Posted By: Gary Paulsen | Posted on: Nov 5, 2010 - 4:15am
Total Posts: 241 | Joined: Feb 14, 2009 - 6:31am



Posted By: Will Day | Posted on: Nov 5, 2010 - 6:18am
Total Posts: 1904 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 4:19pm

Sorry to hear of your Dads passing. I second Frank's post, I miss my Dad, who was my best friend, a retired LCDR(He first enlisted in the Naval reserve in 1927 as an aviation gunners mate at Floyd Bennett Field), who passed in June 1984. I miss him every minute of every day.
You can draw some happiness in the fact that PT 361 is once again leaping across the waves 3/4 of the hull out of the water and then gently sliding into the shallow troughs, your Dads hand on the throttles, with cool salt spray hitting his face, giving him the biggest smile, glad to once again be behind the wheel of his baby. MISS MAHNUKI.
Take care,

Posted By: TED WALTHER | Posted on: Nov 5, 2010 - 7:21am
Total Posts: 2893 | Joined: Oct 16, 2006 - 7:42am

please accept my condolences to you and your family earl

earl richmond

Posted By: EARL RICHMOND | Posted on: Nov 5, 2010 - 4:02pm
Total Posts: 319 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 1:50pm

Very sorry for your loss.

I'll ask Dad if he remembers your father. Dad was QM on Shafer's boat, the 359. Dad stayed in touch with Shafer and Jerry Nolan. Nolan became the 359 captain after Shafer was promoted to Ron 27 CO. Dad participated in one of the famous MacArthur "returns".

Dad is 88.

Dick Listro

Posted By: Dick Listro | Posted on: Nov 8, 2010 - 7:30pm
Total Posts: 28 | Joined: Dec 5, 2006 - 12:43pm


Thank you all for your kind and considerate words. I will share your thoughts with my mother the next time I visit, I'm certain she will appreciate them.

Ray Shafer also lived in Western Pennsylvania. I believe he was also an attorney and after being Governor of Pennsylvania he alternated between Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. Dad said that they would talk once or twice a year.

Dick, I have a fair number of pictures of PT 359, most with crew members visible but with no names provided. I can e-mail them to you if you'd like to share them with your father. It's good to hear that he's still with us.

Thanks again,

Randy McConnell (Randall J. McConnell III)

Posted By: PRJM3 | Posted on: Nov 10, 2010 - 5:37pm
Total Posts: 56 | Joined: May 25, 2009 - 2:47pm

Yes, I am fortunate. Dad drives evrywhere, lives by himself. He's leading a normal life. He told me that his body doesn't know it's 88.

Please send the pictures. Dad will ID them. I think only one other from the 359 is still alive. My email address is

I remember visiting Ray Shafer, when he was Governor, at his office in Harrisburgh at the statehouse. in 1969 when I was 19. They exchanged Christmas cards up until about 10 years ago.



Posted By: Dick Listro | Posted on: Nov 11, 2010 - 11:00am
Total Posts: 28 | Joined: Dec 5, 2006 - 12:43pm