Glynn Robert Donaho, 81, a retired Navy vice admiral who was one of the most heavily decorated submarine skippers of World War II, died May 28 at the Raymond W. Bliss Army Community Hospital at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz. He had pneumonia and heart ailments.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and brought the United States into the war, Adm. Donaho, then a lieutenant commander, was the prospective commanding officer of the Flying Fish, a new submarine. Three days later he put her into commission.
He commanded the boat until November 1943, and during that time he took her on six war patrols in the Pacific that accounted for the destruction of thousands of tons of enemy shipping. And for each of these patrols he received a personal decoration.
In January 1944, Adm. Donaho, then a captain, took command of Submarine Division 222 and in July 1944, he added to this the command of the submarine Picuda. He held these posts until June 1945, when he was named operations officer on the staff of a battleship squadron.
In the course of his submarine service, Adm. Donaho won the Navy Cross -- the highest decoration for bravery in the naval service after the Medal of Honor -- four times. Three of these awards came for his performance in command of the Flying Fish and the fourth was for his service aboard the Picuda. He twice won the Silver Star, which ranks just after the Navy Cross, while skipper of the Flying Fish and he also won the Navy Commendation Ribbon while in that boat.
In addition, he won the Bronze Star for his service as commander of Submarine Division 222 -- the citation said he had "contributed materially to the success of 18 war patrols, which resulted in the destruction of approximately 280,000 tons of enemy shipping and the damaging of an additional 80,000 tons" -- and the Picuda received the Navy Unit Commendation while under his command.
The citation for Adm. Donaho's first Navy Cross relates how he sank a Japanese patrol vessel and severely damaged a battleship. He received his second Navy Cross for a patrol on which he sank two enemy destroyers. He got the third for sinking four ships and damaging two others. The fourth was for sinking five ships and planning attacks by Division 222 that sank 16 others that totaled 93,500 tons and damaged six more totaling an additional 49,000 tons.
Adm. Donaho's postwar assignments included the National War College, from which he graduated in 1951, and various staff and command jobs ashore and afloat. He commanded the Navy base at Subic Bay in the Philippines in 1958 and then was assigned to Washington. He was promoted to vice admiral in 1963 and named commander of the Military Sea Transportation Service. He continued in that job until 1967, when he retired.
Adm. Donaho lived in Washington and at Carl Vinson Hall in McLean until 1978, when he moved to Sierra Vista.
A native of George, Tex., the future admiral graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1927. He received his basic submarine training at New London, Conn., in 1930.
Survivors include his wife, the former Louise Stebbings of Sierra Vista; one stepson, Robert Preston White of Monrovia, Calif.; one sister, Fay Wilson of Mulberry, Ark.; two grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.