Every Veteran Has a Story: Harlan Eugene Riley

Harlan Eugene Riley
Radioman Third Class, US Navy, World War II
USS Magoffin (APA 199)

This article is copied from Shelby County Today without permission.
Gibbon, Buffalo County, Nebraska is the hometown of Harlan Eugene Riley who was born there March 14, 1926. His Father George was a native of Nebraska and Mother Mable Martha Jackson hailed from the show-me state of Missouri. He had two younger siblings, Kenneth and Ruth Elaine. Their parental grandfather Daniel also lived with them on the family farm in Gibbon.(1)

With the Japanese attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941 the United States found itself embroiled in a second world war. At age 18 Harlan voluntarily enlisted in the US Navy and following boot camp he was received on board the troop transport USS Magoffin (APA199) on the day it was commissioned, October 25, 1944. He held the rank of Radioman Third Class and joined the group who were responsible for transmitting and receiving radio signals and processing all forms of telecommunications aboard ship. Attached to Transport Division 54, the Magoffin conveyed troops and cargo in the South Pacific until March 1945. She then steamed with the invasion force for Okinawa and participated in the landing on April 1. During the battle for Okinawa, the USS Magoffin was the first ship in Transport Division 54 to be unloaded and assisted in downing two enemy planes, earning her a battle star. After this campaign she carried men and cargo between the United States and forward area bases until the following spring. On 10 March 1946, six months following the end of World War II, the USS Magoffin reported to the 19th Fleet, San Francisco, California, for inactivation. Harlan was then transferred to Mare Island, California, and honorably discharged May 6, 1946. His ship was decommissioned August 14.(2)

According to the obituary found on ShelbyCountyToday.com he returned home to Nebraska following the war and bought an Indian Motorcycle and rode it all the way to the Port Arthur, Texas area. He married Marion Clara Mitchell in Shelby County, Texas on December 30, 1949.Harlan was one of the founding members of the St. Therese Catholic Church in Center, Texas and was an engineer for KDET Radio in Center for 63 years. He helped to broadcast the First Sunday Singing for many years by driving and operating a transmitter truck. Harlan also owned and operated Texas Electronics and Sentry Signal Alarm for many years in Center and was a member of the local VFW Post 8904.(3)
This article is copied from Shelby County Today without permission.
US Navy Veteran Harlan Riley passed away at age 86 on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at the Shelby Regional Medical Center, Center, Texas. Services were held the following Saturday at St. Therese Catholic Church with Father Jose Vidarte officiating. He now rests in Oaklawn Memorial Park, Center, Shelby County, Texas. Day is done, God is nigh.

(1) Year: 1930; Census Place: Gibbon, Buffalo, Nebraska; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0016; FHL microfilm: 2341002
(2) “USS Magoffin (APA-199).” In Wikipedia, November 17, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=USS_Magoffin_(APA-199)&oldid=926566341.
(3) Shelby County Today. “Obituaries 2013 February,” December 30, 2015. https://scttx.com/obituaries/obituaries-2013-february#Riley.