American Veteran 01

Maj. General Philip J. Conley, Jr., USAF (Ret.)

May 22, 1927 ~ October 7, 2021 (age 94)

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Major General Philip James Conley, Jr., USAF (Ret.) died peacefully on October 7, 2021, in Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 94.

A native of West Warwick, Rhode Island, Phil was born on May 22, 1927, to Philip J. Conley, DDS, and Lillian L. Burns. In his youth, he was active in Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Following attendance at La Salle Academy and Providence College, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy, graduated in 1950, and was offered a commission in the newly formed (1947) United States Air Force. During the Korean War, he flew 100 combat missions as a forward air controller with the First British Commonwealth Division. He then earned an advanced degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Michigan.

While living in Ann Arbor, he met Shirley Andrews and they were married in 1956. During his Air Force career, Phil became a command pilot with over 4,200 hours in 86 different aircraft types, including the F-15, F-16, B-52 and B-1. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and Joint Service Commendation Medal. His many assignments included service in the Vietnam War and as Chief of Staff of the Air Force Systems Command. A highlight of Phil’s career began in 1978, as commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, CA. While there, Phil was responsible for over 400 test projects affecting the US national defense posture. Major flight test programs included the B-1, F-16, F-15, A-10 and F-117, and many of these planes remain primary combat aircraft in the Air Force today. Additionally, he was the Center commander for the first space shuttle landing on Edwards’ dry lake bed, and on July 4, 1982 he hosted President Reagan’s visit to view the first shuttle landing on a conventional runway. Following Phil’s retirement in 1983, Phil and Shirley moved to Santa Barbara where Shirley had graduated from UCSB. Phil served on several non-profit boards including the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation, the Flight Test Historical Society, and the American Irish Historical Society. In 2007, Phil was inducted into the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame. He was also named to the La Salle Academy Hall of Fame. Throughout retirement, he travelled frequently to his family home in Rhode Island and to Ireland where, while tracing his family heritage there, he made many friends and felt very much at home. Phil’s Navy roots never left him. He rarely missed an annual Navy football game in Annapolis, MD. Phil was preceded in death by Shirley, his loving wife of 64 years, in 2020, and by his sister, Helen Wray. He will be greatly missed by his children, Sharon Conley (Bill Sener), of Santa Barbara; Kathleen Conley, of Arlington, Virginia; Anne Pellegrini (Steve), of Newport Beach, California; and James Conley (Elsa), of Saratoga, California; and his grandchildren, extended family, and friends.

A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Montecito, on October 16th, a Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, November 6, 2021, at 10 a.m. at Saints John and James Church, 20 Washington Street, West Warwick, with burial with Military Honors immediately following in Saint Mary’s Church Cemetery, 70 Church Street, West Warwick. All are invited to attend. Arrangements with HENAULT-GALLOGLY Funeral Home, Condolences to the family may be sent to Jim Conley, 20540 Komina Ave, Saratoga, CA 95070, In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to La Salle Academy ( or the United States Naval Academy Athletics

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Mass of Christian Burial
November 6, 2021

10:00 AM
SS. John and James Church
20 Washington St
West Warwick, RI 02893

Military Honors
November 6, 2021

11:15 AM
St. Mary Cemetery
70 Church Street
West Warwick, RI 02893

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