Notable People

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Rear Admiral Donald E. McKay


Rear Admiral Donald E. McKay, United States Coast Guard, was born on 7 January 1906, in Brainerd, Minnesota, and attended Brainerd High School before entering the Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut, in May 1924.

Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 8 March 1927, he subsequently was promoted in rank as follows: Lieutenant (jg), 8 March 1929; Lieutenant, 8 March 1931; Lieutenant Commander, 1 July 1939; Commander, 1 September 1942; Captain, 20 March 1945; and Rear Admiral, 1 June 1956.

Rear Admiral McKay's first assignment was at New London, Connecticut, aboard the Destroyer Trippe, followed by a tour as navigator on the Destroyer Downes also based at New London.  From July, 1930 to December, 1932, he was attached to the Communications Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  Duty on the West Coast followed, where he served as Navigator and assistant engineer of the Cutter Tahoe, at Oakland, California.

Returning to Headquarters in March, 1937, he spent the next three years as Assistant Communications Officer and Aide to the Secretary of the Treasury.  Then, in March, 1941, he went back to Oakland and duty as Executive Officer of the Cutter Shoshone.

During the years of World War II, 1941 to 1945, Rear Admiral McKay saw duty as Executive Officer of the attack transports Leonard Wood, performing duty in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the Arthur Middleton, working in the Pacific theatre.  While on the Wood, he participated in the transfer of British troops to Bombay, India.  Then he went ashore for fifteen months, first a year as head of the Eighth Coast Guard District Personnel Office at New Orleans, Louisiana, and then a brief three-month tour at Headquarters under the Chief, Search and Rescue Division,  During June, 1945, he returned to the Pacific as Commanding Officer of the attack cargo vessel Cepheus, and took part in the initial landings and occupation of Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Saipan, Leyte and the Okinawa campaign.

In January, 1946, Rear Admiral McKay, returned to Headquarters for a fourth tour, this time as Chief, Communications Division.  While in this capacity he served as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the International Conferences on Communications and Loran at Moscow, USSR, Geneva, Switzerland, Atlantic City, and Washington, D.C.  He served as chairman of the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee (IRAC) in 1950, and as vice chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the Loran Conferences at Geneva in 1949.

He was transferred to San Francisco, California, in August, 1950, serving there for the next five years, first as Director of Reserve, then as Chief of Operations, and finally as Chief of Staff, Twelfth Coast Guard District and Deputy Commander, Western Area.

In August, 1955, Rear Admiral McKay, became Chief of Staff, Fourteenth Coast Guard District, at Honolulu, T.H., and on 20 June 1956, became Commander, Fourteenth Coast Guard District.

In addition to the American Defense Service Medal-A and the World War II Victory Medal, Rear Admiral McKay is entitled to the following campaign ribbons: The American Area, the European-African-Middle Eastern Area; the Asiatic-Pacific, with five stars; the Philippine Liberation; and the Occupation, with Asia clasp.

He is a member of the Aurora Lodge No. 100 AF&AM of Brainerd, Minnesota; the Washington Counsel No. 1 R&SM, of Washington, D.C.; the Mount Vernon Chapter no. 3RAM, Washington, D.C.; the Albert Pike Consistory Scottish Rite at Washington, D.C.

He is an active supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, and was connected with Troop 111 of Oakland, California for five years, 18 months as scoutmaster.  He is currently Commissioner for the Kamehameha District of the Honolulu Council.

Rear Admiral McKay married the former Grace L. R. of Oakland, California.  The McKays, with their son, Donald, currently reside in Honolulu, Hawaii.


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