Woonsocket native and lifelong Rhode Island resident CDR Paul G. Farley, USN (Ret) (1917-1993) survived the sinking of the battleship USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor and went on to earn two Distinguished Flying Crosses and five Air Medals while flying 600 combat hours in the Pacific.
He was a 1934 graduate of LaSalle Academy and 1938 graduate of Providence College, lettering at both schools in baseball, basketball and tennis. On the morning of December 7th he survived the attack by escaping through a 28-inch porthole after the ship capsized, swimming through the oily burning water to the beach, where he and other survivors were strafed by Japanese aircraft. He was one of the 12 men helped to safety by Chaplain (LTJG) Aloysius Schmitt, who perished trying to rescue others.
Farley was later promoted to LCDR and took command of the newly-formed Torpedo Squadron 37, leading his unit on strikes in support of the island-hopping campaign across the Pacific. He returned to the US at the end of 1944 and spent the last year of the war as a Naval Aide to the President at the White House. He left active duty in 1946, and retired from the Naval Reserve as a Commander in 1954. Mr. Farley worked as a manufacturers’ representative for Blackstone Mills, Goodall Fabrics and Dicey Mills from 1946 until retiring in 1974
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