Retired Army Lt. Gen. Edward J. O'Neill, 76, who was in charge of supplies for the Allied landings at Salerno, Anzio and Southern France in World War II, died at Arlington Hospital on Tuesday following an apparent heart attack.
Gen. O'Neill was the G-4, or logistics officer, of the VI Corps, whose troops led the amphibious assaults at Salerno and Anzio in Italy and later in Southern France. At Salerno, many critical supplies were loaded aboard LSTs (landing shiptanks) in such a way that it was difficult to move them onto the beachhead.
Gen. O'Neill, then a colonel, devised a scheme for the landing at Anzio to get around this problem. He proposed that trucks be loaded to double their normal capacity at Naples, Italy, and then put aboard LSTs. At Anzio, they would be driven from the ships to supply dumps on the beachhead, and then returned to the LSTs. He said the process could be repeated daily, since LTSs could sail from Naples to Anzio in a day. One advantage, he said, would be to reduce to an hour or two the time the ships would be under enemy shellfire during each trip.
Although a meeting of top-level Allied leaders, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain, disapproved of the idea, Gen. O'Neill went ahead with it. It succeeded, and he was decorated.
Gen. O'Neill finished the war as G-4 of the 5th Army.
Gen. O'Neill later held several staff jobs in Washington and Europe. In 1950, he was appointed deputy chief of staff of the European Command, later called Headquarters, U.S. Army, Europe. He held this post until 1953.
In 1957, he returned to Europe as commander of the Army's communications zone with headquarters in Orleans, France. In May 1958, he chose the body of an unknown soldier from the European-North African-Mideast theaters for possible reburial at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
Gen. O'Neill retired from the Army in 1962 as commanding general of the 1st Army with headquarters in New York. He made his home in Arlington and for the next eight years was a consultant for the Aerojet General Corp. in Washington.
Gen. O'Neill was born in St. Albans, Vt. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army after graduating from the University of Vermont in 1924. He was trained and served as an infantry officer before undertaking logistics duties in World War II.
His decorations include two Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and honors from Britain, France, Italy, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
Survivors include his wife, the former Marie Cronin, of the home in Arlington; two sons, Brian R., of Syracuse, N.Y., and Kevin, an Army lieutenant colonel stationed in Lisbon, Portugal; two daughters, Judith, of New York City, and Bonnie, of the home; a brother, Dr. Francis J. O'Neill, of Hauppauge, N.Y., and seven grandchildren.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Arlington Adult Development Center, 3507 Columbia Pike, Arlington.