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Riley Cove...
A Fitting Honor for a Mercer Island Veteran

Life Magazine image of Huston Riley on D-Day

On Military Appreciation Day, November 8th, 2009, Hu was selected to
raise the 12th man flag at Seahawks Stadium.

A Map of Riley Cove

Young PFC Huston Riley from Mercer Island was among the thousands of Americans who landed on June 6, 1944, part of Operation Overlord. Only one quarter of the soldiers in his unit survived. He is 'the soldier in the surf' immortalized in the June 19 issue of Life Magazine, in one of the most iconic photographs of the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach in Normandy. It would be years later before Huston found out it was him in the photo.

Wounded in the landing he recovered and was part of the first wave of invasions in North Africa and Sicily. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded a second time, this time more seriously. He had been awarded three purple hearts by the end of the war. A member of the Greatest Generation he was interviewed by Tom Brokaw and is probably Mercer Island's best-known and most highly decorated war hero.

Hu Riley was a lifelong Island resident. After returning from the war, he and his wife Charlotte, raised their family in the same house on Mercer Way that his father built in 1905. He was very involved in the community including being an active member of the local VFW Post 5760 and serving on the board of the Historical Society.

Hu Riley died in 2011 at the age of 90.

On October 26th, after many years of waiting, the state Committee on Geographic Names approved a final proposal for the name Riley Cove. The cove runs from Luther Burbank Park to the street end landing at the north end of 72nd St. SE. This is the first but very important step in the process of making it official. The committee will forward its recommendations to the Board of Natural Resources, according to a press release from the State. If the board approves these recommendations, the name will be added to the Washington Administrative Code and the board passes them along to the United States Board on Geographic Names for federal review. Once approved - there will be a celebration!