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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 he was the person 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!

Update (3/3/22): After a unanimous approval on January 4th, by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Riley Cove is now the official name and it will be the name used on all Washington State maps. Now there is one last step, approval by the US Board of Geographic Names to make it the official name nationwide and used on all national maps of Washington. The date for that decision is not yet available.

Update (7/26/22):
To: Jane Brahm, Rob MacAuley
From: U.S. Board on Geographic Names
Date: July 23, 2022

This is to inform you that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, at its July 14, 2022 meeting, approved the proposal to apply the new name Riley Cove to a previously unnamed cove in King County.
The decision reads as follows:

Riley Cove: bay; approx. 50 acres; in the City of Mercer Island, on the N coast of Mercer Island in Lake Washington W of Calkins Point; named for Huston “Hu” Riley (1921-2011), a lifelong resident on the cove and the U.S. soldier who appears in the famous “soldier in the surf” photo taken during the Normandy invasion; Sec 1, T24N, R4E, Willamette Meridian; King County, Washington; 47°35’37”N, 122°14’16”W; USGS map – Mercer Island 1:24,000; Not Serena Cove.

The name will be entered shortly into the Geographic Names Information System, the nation’s official geographic names repository, available online at https://edits.nationalmap.gov/apps/gaz-domestic/public/search/names.

Many thanks to Jane and Rob, who put together a strong campaign with extensive documentation and support from neighbors, the Historical Society, the VFW and the City.

June 6, 2023
Dedication of Riley Cove...
A Fitting Honor for a Mercer Island Veteran

Dedication Ceremony - 4pm, Lincoln Landing
Reception - 4:45pm, VFW Hall

Please note: Attendees should park at the VFW Hall or the Lid Park parking lot
and walk safely along the I-90 trail to attend.
Limited ADA parking will be available at the park site.

A fitting honor for a Mercer Island Veteran (article link)

From the Dedication:

On the anniversary of D-Day, June 6th, 1944, as the mid-afternoon sunlight shone down, a group of attendees gathered near the small bay off Lincoln Landing, to honor the cove’s namesake, Huston “Hu” Riley, and unveil a memorial plaque featuring photos and information about the decorated veteran who earned three Purple Hearts during his years of military service. There were smiles, a few tears and plenty of inspirational words spoken during a long-awaited Riley Cove dedication ceremony.

New Riley Cove Plaque Unveiled
L - R Dave Rosenbaum, Erin Riley Borden, (Hu's daughter), Mayor Salim Nice, Craig Reynolds, Rob MacAuley, Jake Jacobson,
Ted Weinberg, Wendy Weiker, Jane Meyer Brahm, Frank Sorba.
(Photo Credits: Bob Brahm)