Joseph A. McDonough Jr., 54, a rear admiral in the Coast Guard and the chief of its Office of Readiness and Reserve, died April 27 at Commonwealth Hospital in Fairfax after a heart attack. He lived in Chantilly, Va.

Adm. McDonough was born in New York City. He graduated from the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., and the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

His sea duty included assignments in Hawaii and the Philippines and the command at different times of three cutters based in Florida and one based in California.

His shore duty included several tours in Washington. In 1958, he was an intelligence branch chief at Coast Guard headquarters. In 1968, he was appointed Coast Guard liaison officer to the chief of Naval Operations. He served in Florida and then returned here in 1973 as executive assistant to the Coast Guard commandant.

From 1962 to 1964, the future admiral was the commanding officer of the presidential security patrol at President John F. Kennedy's retreats in Hyannisport, Mass., and Palm Beach, Fla.

Adm. McDonough received his promotion to flag rank in 1983 and was ordered to Washington to take charge of the Office of Boating and Public and Consumer Affairs. He held that post until he took over the newly created Office of Readiness and Reserve.

His decorations included the Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal and the National Defense Medal with Bronze Star.

Adm. McDonough was a member of St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Chantilly.

Survivors include his wife, the former Betty F. Sessions, of Chantilly; six daughters, Janine Obenschain of Knoxville, Tenn., Erin Kramer and Colleen Askin, both of Arlington, and Challis, Michelle, and Shannon McDonough, all of Chantilly; two sisters, Theresa M. Cunningham and Ruth M. Fitzpatrick, both of Fairfax; and one granddaughter.