Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway 120th Anniversary

Today is the 120th Anniversary of the founding of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway, which carried visitors from Mill Valley up the slopes of Marin County’s Mt. Tamalpais to just below the East Peak of the mountain.

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway Patch

The Mt. Tam Railway operated for 34 years until 1930, when operations were shut down and the tracks torn up.

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway horizontal 2

Most of the old railroad grade was converted into a fire road, which remains a favorite hiking and running trail on Mt. Tam. During my trail-running days, I ran hundreds of miles on the railroad grade.

Three years ago, I wrote another blog on the Mt. Tam Railway, which contains additional photos and information about the railroad and the associated buildings and services:


Three Dot … 129

Happy 48th Birthday Larry III …

… my nephew, Lawrence John Reilly III, turns 48 today.

Larry is the first-born of the next generation of Reillys …Slide1

… and is the namesake of my younger brother Lawrence John Reilly Jr., one of The Lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans … and my Dad, Lawrence John Reilly Sr.Slide2

My favorite picture of Larry as a child is this one I took in 1969 … when he was a “mascot” of the Costa Mesa High School football team.Larry 3d Costa Mesa Mustangs 1969 corrected Maximum

My brother Jerry played for the Mustangs at the time … and Larry later played for them when he was in high school.

Larry’s Facebook page:


Three Dot … 124

Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day is a day for remembering American military servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, of the 34 members of the extended Reilly-Douglas-Sayes-Davis families who have served in the military, we remember 3 of them today:

My younger brother, BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr. USN, was one of the 74 men lost in the sinking of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754) on June 3, 1969.

BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr. USN … September 22, 1948 — June 3, 1969

The Evans was participating in a SEATO training exercise during a brief respite from gunline duties off the coast of Vietnam. My Dad, GMCM Lawrence John Reilly Sr. (USN Ret) was one of the survivors of the collision, barely escaping from the sinking front half of the ship.

I have blogged here several times on the efforts of the USS Frank E. Evans Association and others to have the names of The Lost 74 added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, thus far to no avail.

One of my father’s uncles, Stephen John Otten, fought with the US Army in Europe during World War I. He received a Purple Heart after being gassed and several years later died as a result of the injuries to his lungs.

Going back even further on my wife’s side of the family, one of her ancestors, John Calvin Busby, was killed in action during the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. He was one of nine family members who fought in the Civil War, eight of them in the Confederate Army.

Unfortunately, I do not have photos of either Stephen Otten or John Busby and do not know any of the details of their military service.

Today is also a day to remember two other groups of veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice … The Lost 74 of the Frank E. Evans …

The Lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD754) … Lost at Sea June 3, 1969

… and the 30 of my West Point classmates who were killed in Vietnam.

USMA Class of 1967 ... KIA Vietnam

On this Memorial Day, I salute all of these men … John, Stephen & Larry … The Lost 74 … and my 30 West Point classmates.

Three Dot … 107

300 Dots …

When I was a kid, one of my favorite candies was the boxed gum drops called DOTS, produced by Mason …

Dots Candy Box 1970's

Dots Candy & Box… though they, of course, have nothing to do with the dots of the ellipses which I use here in my Three Dot blog …

Dots Candy 2…of which this is the 100th … hence the blog title … 300 Dots

Dots Candy 3… I actually haven’t had any Dots in years …

…though writing about them tonight is making me think I’ll pick some up next time I’m at the store.

Dots Candy 1

10K PR — 32:59.14 — 30 Years Ago Today …

… at the Piggy Bank 10K Run …

… in what I consider one of my two best road races ever …

… took 1st place in my age group (35-39), despite being one of the oldest runners in the group …

… and finished 4th overall in a time of 32:59.14 …

… at an average mile pace of 5:18.50 …

Jim Piggy Bank 10K Run PR Jan 1985… in addition to a nice plaque …

Piggy Bank 10K Run Placque 850127 corrected High… each age group winner was awarded … a ceramic Piggy Bank …

DSC_0084This race was self-deprecatingly sponsored by …

… the Brea Police Athletic League.

We Moved to Mill Valley …

… thirty years ago today … August 22, 1984, Sandy & I and our four children moved into our new home on Morning Sun Drive in the Tamalpais Valley area of Mill Valley, Marin County, California.

This move culminated more than a year of planning and preparation which had started during a visit to the Bay Area for me to run in the San Francisco Marathon and check out the trail on which the Dipsea Race is run. During that visit, we had driven through Mill Valley on Cascade Drive … surely one of the most beautiful residential neighborhoods in the world … and I had asked Sandy, “Why are we living in Orange County when we could live here?”

The answer to that question, of course, was that we didn’t have to … and so, here we were moving into the house on Morning Sun Drive.

Uprooting the kids from our home in Irvine, California, was not, as far as they were concerned, the most popular thing we had ever done … No. 1 son Douglas was about to start high school and was being dragged away from all of his friends … but we thought it best to make the move before school started, rather than waiting until our Irvine home sold, so that we wouldn’t have to move during his freshman year of high school.

No. 2 son Matt was about to start 5th grade, daughter Risa was starting 2nd grade and No. 3 son Sean was starting kindergarten … Sandy & I were confident that they would make new friends, but it was still a tough move for all of them.

Fortunately for Doug, we moved in directly across the street from another prospective Tamalpais High School freshman … who also happened to be, like Doug, a redhead … and who became the kind of best friend for life that most people only wish they could find … his name, of course, is Toby George.

Because the Irvine house had not sold, I remained in Southern California until it did … which meant that I didn’t actually move to Mill Valley until the following summer … and saw Sandy & the kids only during visits to Marin County. Once the house finally did sell … in June 1985 … I left the Orange County DA’s office, moved the last of our stuff to Mill Valley and went into private practice.

I have now lived in Marin County twice as long as I have ever lived anywhere else … and looking back over the past 30 years, I remain of the opinion that there is no better place to live than the San Francisco Bay Area and, in particular, Marin County.

West Point, June 7, 1967 …

West Point 1967 Crest on whiteOne more anniversary this week … 47 years ago today … 6-7-67 … my West Point class graduated … and went off to make its mark in the world.

There is good reason to conclude that the class lived up to its motto … “None Will Surpass” … with ’67 grads excelling in their military careers and civilian endeavors after leaving the Army … or, for three of us, the Navy!

For today, though, I just want to remember … through representative photos … what an experience it was for me to be a West Point cadet from July 1, 1963, until June 7, 1967.

West Point Crest enamel

Company I-2, Class of 1967 Plebes

Company I-2, Class of 1967 Plebes

Among my I-2 classmates were my two best friends, Jim Vance (3rd row, 2nd from left), who nearly four years later introduced me to my wife-to-be, Sandy Douglas, and Dick Waterman (upper left corner).

With Candy Sayes at the Thayer Hotel, Christmas 1963

With Candy Sayes at the Thayer Hotel, Christmas 1963

On October 19, 1963, another classmate and good friend, Tom “Trey” Sayes, introduced me to his younger sister, Candy.  We dated throughout the rest of plebe year … and, after her family moved to Oklahoma the following year, saw each other rarely … and finally drifted apart.  We saw each other one last time in July 1967, while I was on graduation leave … then not again until exactly 43 years to the day of our first meeting … October 19, 2006 … when I drove to Colorado to see her again … as they say, the rest is history … and we have been back together ever since.

Co I-2, Class of 1967 Yearlings

Company I-2, Class of 1967 Yearlings

By yearling (sophomore) year, we were more relaxed … and a smaller group, several of our company mates having departed.

Door to My Room 5243, November 28, 1964

Door to My Room 5243, November 28, 1964

I was a rabid Army football fan and festooned the door to my room … and the surrounding walls … with support for the team … and, along with the rest of the Corps of Cadets, enjoyed Army’s 11-8 win over Navy in the 1964 game … the winning margin of which came by way of a field goal by my classmate Barry Nickerson.

In April of 1965, near the end of Yearling year, my family visited West Point … and my Mom took this picture of me … my favorite of all of my West Point photos …

Photo after Parade, April 17, 1965

Photo after Parade, April 17, 1965

As a plebe, I had run on the plebe cross-country, indoor track and track & field teams … but was not good enough to compete intercollegiately as an upperclassman.  As a result, I participated in intramural athletics … including football …

USMA 1967 Intramural Football D-2 Card… and wrestling …

Brigade Open Intramural Wrestling, March 8, 1966

Scoring 2 points in a Brigade Open Intramural Wrestling match, March 8, 1966

Eventually, as a first classman (senior), I was the coach of the company intramural football and wrestling teams … and finally was designated Athletic Sergeant for the company … my official rank upon graduation.

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Cows

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Cows

Between our yearling and “cow” (junior) years, the corps was re-organized from two regiments to four … and we were re-assigned to new companies.  I was assigned to Company D-2 and housed in the old Central Barracks (which were later demolished to make room for new cadet barracks).  Among my D-2 classmates were my roommates our last 2 years as cadets … Bob Unterbrink (front row, third from left, next to me) … and Rob Walker (4th row, right end). 

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Firsties

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Firsties

Two of my D-2 company mates went on to become Army generals … Chuck Sutten, (front row, 4th from right, directly in front of me) … and Ed Smith (2nd row, 4th from left).  Note in this picture Arnie Cano (from Panama) … holding in his right hand a small lizard!

First class (senior) year marked the beginning of our transition from cadets to officers … starting with receipt of our rings …

Ring Hop, September 10, 1966, with my date Gail McGahren

Ring Hop, September 10, 1966, with my date Gail McGahren

During the 1966 football season, Army played the California Golden Bears in Berkeley … providing me with the opportunity to visit for the first time Cal’s Memorial Stadium …

California Golden Bears, Memorial Stadium, Student Section

California Golden Bears, Memorial Stadium, Student Section

… a place I would later visit many times and grow to love as a fan of the Cal Bears myself (after #1 son attended Cal and worked as a student manager for the football team).  Army beat the Bears 6-3 in the 1966 game!

Another major milestone came in March of 1967, when we were allowed to receive delivery of our new cars … mine a maroon with white top 1967 Corvette convertible …

My 1967 Corvette -- "So Rare, Too"

My 1967 Corvette — “So Rare, Too”

Then came June Week … the traditional celebration of a graduating class of West Point cadets.  The day before graduation, we had an academic award ceremony … at which I received the “Colonial Daughters of the 17th Century Award” as Honor Graduate (First in Class) for the Department of English …

Mrs. Marshall I. Groff presenting Colonial Daughters of the 17 Century Award

Mrs. Marshall I. Groff presenting Colonial Daughters of the 17 Century Award

.. the night before graduation, we had our graduation hop …

Graduation Hop photo with my date Jessica Poulson

Graduation Hop, June 6, 1967, with my date Jessica Poulson

… and then graduation day itself … and my swearing in as a newly commissioned United States Navy ensign … a whole other story for another time!

Being Sworn in by US Navy LCDR C. A. Sorenson

Being Sworn in by US Navy LCDR C. A. Sorenson

With Mom & Dad After Swearing In  --  GMCM Lawrence J. Reilly, USN (Ret) and Marion Thomas Reilly

With Dad (GMCM Lawrence J. Reilly, USN (Ret)) and Mom (Marion Thomas Reilly) After Swearing In

And … finally … graduation …

USMA Class of 1967 Standing for National Anthem, Graduation Ceremony, June 7, 1967

USMA Class of 1967 Standing for National Anthem, Graduation Ceremony, June 7, 1967

… and liberation!


Ring Hop Photo September 10, 1966

Ring Hop Photo September 10, 1966

USMA Class of 1967 Senior Portrait

USMA Class of 1967 Senior Portrait

USMA 1967 Howitzer (Yearbook) Photo

USMA 1967 Howitzer (Yearbook) Photo

D-Day, June 6, 1944 …

June is a busy month of historical and family anniversaries … today is a day on which the two converge … as one of the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach at Normandy on D-Day was my father-in-law, Joe Marion “Pappaw” Douglas, of Senatobia, Mississippi.

Douglas Joe

In all the years I knew him, Joe Douglas talked about D-Day only once, describing for me what happened to him and others on his craft … a member of the venerated Big Red One … the 1st Infantry Division … he recalled nervously anticipating his first combat as his landing craft headed toward the beach.

He described feeling seasick as the landing craft bounced across the waves … and then the ramp dropped … and “all hell broke loose”.

His was one of the landing craft immediately taken under heavy fire from the Germans defending Normandy … several members of his platoon were killed in the first few seconds and those toward the rear of the craft, including Pappaw, had to either climb over their bodies and into the line of fire … or jump over the side into the breakers.

Although not much of a swimmer, Joe Douglas chose to jump … and nearly drowned himself in the process … to survive, he shed his pack and dropped his rifle … and then, once ashore, picked up another rifle and ammunition from a dead comrade … and joined the attack on the German defenses.

Several years after Pappaw described his experience to me, Steven Spielberg directed his Oscar-winning depiction of the invasion … Saving Private Ryan … and Pappaw went to see it with my sister-in-law, Penny Douglas. 

He broke into tears during the opening scenes, one of the few times any of us had ever known him to cry.  Joe Douglas was a gentle man in his personal life … but a tough one in combat.  By April of 1945, he had fought with the 1st Infantry Division in all of its major battles … as the allies drove across Europe and into Germany.

Pappaw gave his imprimatur of historical accuracy … and emotional impact … to Spielberg’s recreation of the D-Day invasion … as it brought back memories he had long sought to keep hidden deep inside.

On this very special anniversary day, I salute Joe Douglas and all of the other men who made this momentous invasion an Allied success.  Pappaw died on July 7, 2000, at the age of 76.  He never considered himself a hero;  the rest of our family knows better.

———- ooo ———-

For the website about D-Day, complete with a detailed history, videos and photos, see:

———- ooo ———-



Memorial Day …

Memorial Day 2014

… to most Americans is a day to honor those who have given their lives in the military service of their country …

… to “remember” men and women they have never actually known …

… and to “celebrate” the day with barbecue, beer and baseball.


To the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, however …

… Memorial Day is a day for somber reflection …

… and honoring the memory not of multitudes of unknowns …

… but of loved ones who, in earlier times, had shared the day, unaware of the heartache and sorrow lying ahead.

Flag RibbonOurs is such a family …

… and today our thoughts turn to our son, brother, father, grandfather & uncle …

BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr

BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr.

… who was lost at sea on June 3, 1969, in the sinking of the American destroyer USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754).

I described the collision which cost Larry his life in earlier blog posts here …


… and here …


USS Frank E. Evans Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

USS Frank E. Evans Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

Because he was lost at sea, Larry has a memorial headstone at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego (coincidentally, the city of his birth) …

… which I first visited with other family members when Larry’s son Lawrence John Reilly III was a small child …

Scan-140524-0002Scan-140524-0008… while later visits showed the changes in the setting …

Scan-140525-0008… and damage to the headstone from maintenance of the lawn.

02100009Also note the error in the date of death on the headstone …

… an error I shared for many years because it was still June 2, 1969, in the United States when the collision occurred …

… though it was already June 3rd in the South China Sea …

… as a result of which the official date of the collision in June 3, 1969.

Larry & EvansMemorial Day Banner/>

———- ooo ———-

Reilly Family December 7, 1968 ----- Luanne, Jim, Larry Sr., Larry Jr., Jerry, Marion and Suzie

Reilly Family December 7, 1968 —– Luanne, Jim, Larry Sr., Larry Jr., Jerry, Marion and Suzie

Joyce E. Gillich Reilly & Lawrence John Reilly Jr.

Joyce E. Gillich Reilly & Lawrence John Reilly Jr.





Oh, they built the ship Titanic …

RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic

Today is the 102nd Anniversary of the sinking of the great British ocean liner RMS Titanic … an event regarding which I have been fascinated since childhood.

That fascination actually began during cub scout, boy scout and state conservation summer camps that I attended as a child … during which it was common at evening meals to sing a then popular song about the tragedy:

Oh, they built the ship Titanic, to sail the ocean blue.
And they thought they had a ship that the water would never get through.
But the Lord’s almighty hand knew the ship would never land,
It was sad when the great ship went down.

Oh, it was sad,
It was sad,
It was sad when the great ship went down to the bottom of the….
Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives,
It was sad when the great ship went down.

They sailed on through the night and were almost to the shore,
When the rich refused to associate with the poor.
So they threw the poor below, where they were the first to go,
It was sad when the great ship went down.

Repeat chorus

Then they swung the lifeboats o’er the deep and raging sea,
And the band struck up with “Nearer My God to Thee”.
Little children wept and cried as the waves swept o’er the side,
It was sad when the great ship went down.

Repeat chorus

There are any number of additional verses … and/or variations on those I remember (each verse of the current “official” Boy Scout version is somewhat different than the ones I recall singing).

RMS Titanic at sea.

RMS Titanic at sea.

My fascination with the Titanic continued throughout the years … and I avidly followed the efforts of oceanographer Robert Ballard to find the wreck.

Robert Ballard

Robert Ballard

No one was more excited than I when he finally succeeded … I have since watched his documentaries about the search many times, have his beautiful book about the Titanic and other “Lost Liners” …

"Lost Liners" by Robert Ballard

“Lost Liners” by Robert Ballard and Rick Archbold with Paintings by Ken Marschall

… and love the gorgeous paintings that Ken Marschall did for that book and “Titanic — An Illustrated History” by Don Lynch …

"Titanic - An Illustrated History" by Don Lynch with Illustrations by Ken Marschall

“Titanic – An Illustrated History” by Don Lynch with Illustrations by Ken Marschall

Titanic Sailing Toward the Iceberg

Titanic Sailing Toward the Iceberg

Titanic Sinking

Titanic Sinking

And of course there are the documentaries by Ballard and others showing Titanic today … lying in two major pieces on the floor of the Atlantic …

Titanic Bow Section on Ocean Floor

Titanic Bow Section on Ocean Floor

Titanic Aft Section on the Ocean Floor

Titanic Aft Section on the Ocean Floor

… and this poignant view of the human cost …

Titanic Shoes on the Ocean Floor

Titanic Shoes on the Ocean Floor


For alternative verses of the Titanic song, see:


And for a YouTube performance of one version of the Titanic song, see:

Nano … One in a Billion …

… “Nano- : one billionth part of something”

… (the Merriam-Webster online dictionary) …


Nano … my one-in-a-billion canine companion … well, one in about a half-billion or so anyway (the estimated dog population of the world being somewhere between 400 and 550 million).

I have been planning to write a series of blog posts here about the furry critters who bring such joy to our lives … Nano being the oldest and with me the longest, she goes first.

Unfortunately, I have to start with bad news … this past weekend was a tough one for Nano … she is closing in on 15 years old and has been slowing down in the recent past … on Saturday, we had an unexpected medical crisis.

Early in the day, she went outside and up on the hill behind our house … something she had not done for some time … and I had to carry her back down when it was time to come in … I then went out to Costco … primarily for dog treats … and was gone for about an hour and a half.

When I got home, I found Nano lying lethargically on her bed, surrounded by what appeared to be bloody vomit … and found a trail of the same stuff all the way out the back door onto the deck.

Nano was listless, could not stand on her own and did not respond when I talked to her … so, I picked her up and took her to the Pet Emergency & Specialty Center in San Rafael … had to carry her into the vet’s office, too, as she still could not walk.

They quickly discovered that what I had thought to be vomit was actually diarrhea, as she had a serious bout in the vet’s office shortly after we arrived … ultimately, the vet determined that she was suffering from HGE or Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis … which means that it was a good thing that I took her in right away, as the website “” describes HGE as follows:

“HGE or Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis is a disease that hits quickly and can be fatal if not treated immediately. Veterinarians and pet owners remain frustrated by Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis because symptoms appear rapidly and often without explanation. A perfectly healthy dog will be fine one moment and then seriously ill the next. The problem with Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis is that there is no known cause. Experts believe there might be a link between this disease and a loss of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. What is known is that fluids leak from blood vessels within the intestines and exit through the rectum.”

The vet … Dr. Audra Pompeani … put Nano on a hydration IV and some medications … and recommended that she stay at least overnight … I went in to see Nano and she barely responded when I hugged her goodnight.

Sunday morning, the vet recommended that Nano stay the rest of the day … and I had to drive to San Diego for a Monday morning court appearance … so Candy had to pick Nano up after she got off work at midnight.

By the time I got home near midnight on Monday, Nano was doing somewhat better … though she had to be carried when she needed to go outside for a couple of days.

By today, Thursday, we had also learned that a follow up urinalysis revealed that she has a urinary tract infection … for which she has to take amoxicillin … and her blood work shows elevated kidney values, an early sign of kidney problems.

All in all, a tough few days … for Nano … and for Candy & me.

Looking back at better times …

… I adopted Nano (nee “Starrose Lady”) …

Starrose Lady — Marin Humane Society Photo

… from the Marin Humane Society on January 26, 2000 … just shy of three months after my wife Sandy had died of breast cancer … this was a difficult time for me, emotionally … and over the next year, Nano provided a measure of emotional support and comfort for which I can never fully repay her.

Nano -- 2000

Nano — 2000

Of the dogs available for adoption at that time, I picked Nano because I wanted a medium-sized dog who could go running with me on the trails of Mt. Tam … part whippet and part who-knows-what, Nano fit the bill perfectly …

Nano Running on Mt. Tam Trail

Nano Running on Mt. Tam Trail

… and eventually did run thousands of miles with me on the mountain and other open space trails.

The night I brought her home, however, she was shaking like a leaf the entire trip … and didn’t really stop shaking until we went to bed … at which time she crawled under the covers and curled up at my feet … which proved to be her favorite sleeping place for several years.


Not only did Nano love running … she also loved chasing and catching any ball that I would throw for her … for several years she went with me to work at my brother’s company, A&J Electric Cable Corp., in Hayward … and we would go out a couple of times each day to play catch in the long driveway … I would throw a ball as far as I could and she would go tearing after it … bringing it back and begging for me to throw it again … over & over … until she was panting and my arm was tired!

After I moved to Novato, we spent a lot of time on the Wild Horse Valley fire road … and playing catch out on the street … an uphill run for her to chase the ball.

The last few years, though, she has slowed down … at first, we would go out to play ball and she would run up the hill a few times … then come down once and instead of bringing me the ball, would turn into the driveway and head for the house! Hint … I’m tired … enough ball-playing for the day!

Eventually, she would not chase the ball at all … and would just watch it roll down the hill if I threw it. We lost a few that way until I finally got the message … the ball-throwing & chasing days were over.

Nano has a sweet personality … loves everyone she meets … most other dogs …

Nano & Cairo

Nano & Cairo

especially her long-time friend Cairo

Nano, Samantha & Macavity

Nano, Samantha & Macavity

… and even the cats who have invaded her space since Candy moved to California in 2007.

These days, she particularly likes visiting with my daughter Risa & her husband Jeff Thomas … and their two dogs, Bailey (a mini-dachshund) and Blue (an American blue pitbull).

Here are some more pictures of Nano … doing the things she loves the most …


Relaxing on the Couch

Exploring a Mt. Tam Ridgeline

Exploring a Mt. Tam Ridgeline …


… and Running on a Mountain Slope.

Nano -- 2005

Nano — 2005

Nano 2010

Nano 2010

Except as Otherwise Noted, all Photos Copyright Jim Reilly 2014

“The British are Coming, The British are Coming” …

… the second of this week’s major rock & roll anniversaries was on Friday, February 7th … the 50th anniversary of the arrival in the United States of … the first wave of the “British Invasion” … THE BEATLES.

Rolling Stone Magazine:  The Beatles Arrive in the U.S.

Rolling Stone Magazine: The Beatles Arrive in the U.S.

The Beatles, of course, changed rock & roll forever … and in the process profoundly changed the United States in ways the consequences of which continue to this day.

John, Paul, George & Ringo … last names not necessary … came to the U.S. while the country was deep in mourning over the then recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy  … and provided, at least for the younger generation of Americans, a welcome diversion from the melancholy which had gripped the country.

Because I was in the midst of “gloom period” (the post-Christmas leave, mid-winter period of cold, snow & early darkness) of my plebe year at West Point, I was not a spectator … either directly or even by way of television … at the arrival of the Beatles.

But, thousands of Americans … mostly teenagers or journalists … greeted the band on its arrival at the recently renamed John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.

The Beatles Press Conference February 7, 1964

The Beatles Press Conference February 7, 1964

After their arrival, the Beatles participated in a press conference with New York disc jockey Murray Kaufman … “Murray the K” … who came to refer to himself as “The 5th Beatle”.  Kaufman hosted the “1010 WINS New York” evening time slot … and was (along with Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow) one of my favorite DJ’s of the rock & roll era.

The Beatles went on to make American television history with their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9th … with 73 million viewers … a staggering 40% of the total American population … and the largest recorded TV audience for a single show ever up to that time.

Meet the Beatles Album Cover

Like many young Americans, I bought every Beatles album as it was released … at least until I graduated from West Point … at which time I unwisely sold most of my record albums, including all of my Beatles albums, to underclassmen. 

Although I was never as much a fan of the Beatles as I was of others who they credited with making their success possible … including Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley … and did not like most of their post-1966 recordings … I do, to this day, enjoy their early recordings … such as …


“I Want to Hold Your Hand” … “Love Me Do” … and “I Saw Her Standing There” … which provided temporary relief from the drudgery of life as a West Point plebe … and which still bring a smile to my face when I hear them.


The Beatles on Wikipedia:

The Beatles arrive in the U.S. on Wikipedia:

How popular were the Beatles albums?

December 11th … A Shared Birthday …


My Mom, Marion Thomas Reilly, and my fiancée Candy Davis’ Dad, Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr., shared the same birthday, December 11th, albeit 8 years apart (Col. Sayes 1917 and Mom 1925).  See Note 1 below.

Yesterday was therefore a somber and reflective day for both of us.

Candy’s Dad, a retired U.S. Army colonel, died more than 30 years ago (May 1, 1982) in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he and Candy’s Mom, Margaret “Mimi” Sayes, had moved after his retirement.  They had just returned from a visit with Candy’s family in Houston when Col. Sayes suffered a heart attack.

My Mom, on the other hand, has been gone just a little more than a year, dying November 30th last year in Syracuse, NY, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Candy & I are both fortunate in that we each have a long-lived, surviving parent.  Mimi Sayes will be 88 the day after tomorrow and my Dad, Lawrence John Reilly Sr., will be 90 on June 18, 2014.

Col. Sayes was a combat veteran of World War II …

Thomas Havard Sayes -- WWII Soldier

Thomas Havard Sayes — WWII Soldier

… Korea and Vietnam, who also served peacetime tours of duty in Japan and Germany.  As result, of course, Candy and her siblings (my West Point Classmate Thomas Havard Sayes III, Morgan Sayes & Summer Sayes Purvis) enjoyed the peripatetic lifestyle typical of Army brats.

I met Candy and consequently her father while he was attending the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, PA, in 1963. 

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr. —– Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA — 1963-64

I was, at the time, a plebe at West Point and colonels were the next best thing to divinity (otherwise known as generals) in my world at the time.  For a young man, the prospect of meeting any new girlfriend’s father is always daunting — for me, the prospect of meeting Candy’s Dad was terrifying!

The actuality proved less intimidating than the expectation, as the colonel accepted my felicitations for his daughter with equanimity.  Truth be told, I ultimately discovered Mimi to be the more daunting of Candy’s parents!

Near the end of our plebe year … and upon completion of his War College studies … Col. Sayes was re-assigned to Fort Sill, OK, and he moved his family there in the Spring of 1964.  I saw him on only one occasion thereafter — during a brief visit to Oklahoma in December 1964 while I was on my Yearling (sophomore) year Christmas leave.  He was somewhat nonplussed to discover that, despite being 19 years old, I did not as yet have my driver’s license and therefore could not drive Candy anywhere while there.

Mimi & Col. Sayes -- December 1971

Mimi & Col. Sayes — December 1971

The move of the Sayes family from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma was the second of two major transitions in my life that came only a few months apart.

In March of 1964, my Dad, who was a Navy chief at the time, was also transferred to Long Beach, CA, and my family moved from my childhood home in Lindenhurst to Garden Grove.

Despite the fact that Dad, like Col. Sayes, was career military, my Mom had a radically different life as a military wife than did Mimi Sayes.  Dad had split service, doing six years during and after World War II. 

Mom & Dad Wedding Portrait -- January 17, 1945

Mom & Dad Wedding Portrait — January 17, 1945

Mom & Dad married in January 1945 and while he was overseas during the remainder of the war, Mom lived with her parents in Ozone Park, NY.

After the war, Dad had relatively brief assignments in Bremerton, WA, and San Diego, CA, and Mom moved to each of those cities with him (and their first born).

Dad left the Navy in 1948, rejoined as a reservist in the mid-1950’s, and his ship was called to active duty during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  He then decided to remain on active duty and once transferred to California in 1964, he was thereafter assigned to ships home ported in or Naval facilities located in California.  For the rest of his career, his overseas assignments were always sea duty, meaning that his family could not accompany him.

This, of course, meant that Mom continued living in the family home, which after a year in Garden Grove, was in Costa Mesa, CA, until Dad’s retirement.

All in all, Dad was away on sea duty or training assignments, cumulatively, for years … years during which Mom was essentially a single parent.  And, by 1962, that meant five of us kids for her to care for … and four still at home after the move to California.

And yet, for the most part, Mom was undaunted by the separation, the anxiety and the difficulties attendant to being a military wife and periodic single parent.  I never saw her feeling sorry for herself and while I know she worried about Dad when he was overseas (worry which was, as things turned out, all too justified), she rarely showed that, either.



In short, my Mom was a strong woman, capable of doing what had to be done, loving us kids unconditionally, disciplining us when necessary, and defending us fiercely if she felt we had been wronged by others (see Note 2 for an example of this).

She was also extremely proud of her children, grandchildren and great-children.  She liked to recite the numbers … 5 children, 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren … and, as she always concluded, “Not a loser in the bunch”.  (See Note 3 below.)

As her first born, I of course knew her longer than anyone in the family other than my Dad.  She was particularly proud of my appointment to and graduation from West Point and sometimes expressed her pride, to my embarrassment, by calling herself “Mother of Jim”. 

Mom & I in 1946

Mom & I in 1946

Dad even had a special California license issued for her car:

MTR MOJ California License Plate 080517 cropped

Which of course, stands for “Marion Thomas Reilly, Mother of Jim”!

The mental decline of her final years was heart-breaking as her memory failed and she lost the vitality which had always characterized the mother I knew.

Mom & I in 2010

Mom & I in 2010

Looking back now, Candy & I each love & miss our lost parent, but take pride ourselves in their lives well-led.


Note 1:  The fact that two of our four parents shared a common birthday is a serendipitous coincidence, albeit one which has a precise mathematical probability, a probability which is actually the same as the likelihood that two people out of any group of four will share the same birthday.  That likelihood, taking into consideration leap day every four years, is 1.64% (I’ll spare you the mathematical calculation, which is straightforward, but involves a lot of division, addition and multiplication, topped off with one subtraction!)

Note 2:

Note 3:  Sadly, she will not know that the number of great-grandchildren has continued … and is continuing … to grow … and that there’s still “not a loser in the bunch”.


LTC Thomas Havard Sayes Jr.

LTC Thomas Havard Sayes Jr.

Marion Thomas Reilly

Marion Thomas Reilly

December 7th … Army-Navy 1963

Besides being my wedding anniversary …



… and the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor …



… December 7th is a significant date to me for another reason …


… the Army-Navy football game in 1963, about which I have blogged once before …



Separate and apart from my personal interest in the game, the 1963 Army-Navy game had national significance, coming as it did on the heels of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy


… the game had been scheduled for November 30th, but was delayed because of the assassination … and there was some discussion of possibly cancelling it completely.


The president, however, had been a big football fan, particularly of the interservice classic …

President John F. Kennedy Flips the Coin at the 10962 Army-Navy Game

President John F. Kennedy Flips the Coin at the 1962 Army-Navy Game

… and had planned to attend the game and flip the coin for the opening kickoff … his family, in particular First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, wanted the game to be played, even as the country was in the midst of the official 30 day period of mourning for the slain president.


JFK, of course, was a Naval officer and World War II hero … about whom the movie PT-109 was made … so, after a one week delay, the game was on …  with Navy, ranked #2 in the country, a big favorite to win its 5th Army-Navy game in a row.


Instead of names across their shoulders, the Navy uniforms featured the slogan “Drive for Five” … and the Middies were led by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Roger Staubach.


Rumor had it that an upset win by Army would put the Black Knights, in place of Navy, into the Cotton Bowl against #1 ranked Texas … and Army had a secret weapon named Rollie Stichweh at quarterback …

Army Quarterback Rollie Stichweh

Army Quarterback Rollie Stichweh

… so we cadets were hopeful.


The game was played at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium, which was later renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium in honor of the president … and the nation looked on as the two service academy teams met in honor of their fallen commander-in-chief.


Army scored first, but Navy ran off three unanswered touchdowns to lead 21-7 with ten minutes to play … which was when Army … and Stichweh in particular … took over and mounted one of the most thrilling comeback attempts in college football history.


First, Army drove to a touchdown … which was scored by … Rollie Stichweh on a one yard run … after which Army made a daring 2 point conversion, to make the score 21-15.


And then, with everyone in the stadium expecting it, Army attempted an onsides kick … and succeeded … with the ball recovered by none other than that man Stichweh … after which Army once again drove deliberately (too deliberately, as it turned out) toward the Navy goal line.


On a 3rd down run, Army halfback Ken Waldrop dove to the Navy 2 yard line with 18 seconds to play …

Army Fullback Ken Waldrop

Army Halfback Ken Waldrop Dives to the Two Yard Line

… but with deafening noise in the stadium and no timeouts remaining … Army was not able to get off a 4th down attempt to pull out the win.


Like all Army fans, I was crushed when the officials waived off the game as time expired … and the memory remains vivid even after 50 years … but there is no doubt that the game helped to heal the grievous wound which the nation had suffered two weeks before.


Oddly, the game is known in football history for another reason … it featured the first ever use of instant replay … showing Stichweh’s 4th quarter touchdown run.


As mentioned in my earlier blog, Sports Illustrated writer Dan Jenkins wrote an excellent story about the game … which I have saved to this day … and which is reproduced below.


One other personal note … my guest for the 1963 Army-Navy game was none other than my then girlfriend and now fiancee Candy Sayes (Davis)!

Candy Sayes & I During Plebe Christmas at West Point -- December 1963

Candy Sayes & I During Plebe Christmas at West Point — December 1963 — Shortly After the Army-Navy Game

Army-Navy Game Logo

This year’s Army-Navy game will be played at 3:00 pm EST next Saturday, December 14th, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia … the Middies are on an 11 game winning streak against Army … the longest such streak in the 113 year history of the game … and lead the series 57-49-7.


I, of course, will be rooting for Army … as will Candy’s brother, my West Point classmate, Trey Sayes … but she, her son Jason Davis, a 1994 Annapolis graduate, and my Dad (Lawrence Reilly, Sr., a retired Navy master chief gunner’s mate) will all be cheering for the Middies.



For other stories about the national significance of the 1963 Army-Navy game, see:





A documentary has also been produced about the game and its importance to the country …

Army-Navy 1963 Marching On


… it is called “Marching On:  1963 Army-Navy Remembered” and is described here:




Army Black Knights Logo


The Army football website is here:




Navy Football Logo.

Navy’s is here:




Arm-Navy Game Logo Football

The Wikipedia article on the history of the Army-Navy game is here:




And here is the Dan Jenkins Sports Illustrated article about the game:


USMA 1967 Army Navy game 1963 Sports Illustrated article


Army-Navy Game 1963 Sports Illustrated Photo

December 7th … 45th Anniversary


Sandy Wedding Newspaper Announcement

Jim & Sandy Wedding Portrait

Joe M. Douglas, Father of the Bride, and Sandy

Joe Marion Douglas, Father of the Bride, and Sandy

Lawrence John Reilly Sr., Marion Thomas Reilly, James Thomas Reilly, Sandra Kay Douglas Reilly, Dorothy Hardy Douglas, Joe Marion Douglas

mom_wedding_portrait adjusted

Lawrence Ambrose ("Grandpa") Reilly, Jessie Grace Busby ("Granny") Douglas, Sandy, Jim, Gerald Francis ("Pop") Thomas, Louise E. Schillinger ("Nana") Thomas

Lawrence Ambrose (“Grandpa”) Reilly, Jessie Grace Busby (“Granny”) Douglas, Sandy, Jim, Gerald Francis (“Pop”) Thomas, Louise E. Schillinger (“Nana”) Thomas

Luanne Reilly Oda, Jim, Lawrence John Reilly Sr., Lawrence John Reilly Jr., Gerald Thomas Reilly, Marion Thomas Reilly, Suzanne Marie Reilly

Luanne Reilly Oda, Jim, Lawrence John Reilly Sr., Lawrence John Reilly Jr.,
Gerald Thomas Reilly, Marion Thomas Reilly, Suzanne Marie Reilly

Penny Douglas, Sandy, Brenda Williams, Susan Hardy

Penny Douglas, Sandy, Brenda Williams, Susan Hardy

Sandy + Wedding - Close Up (adjusted)

SANDY — We all love & miss you.

Talking about how we talk …

… and where we came from …

… I ran across this intriguing website today …

… the North Carolina State University Dialect Survey Maps

… the self-description of which says, “Dialect maps by Joshua Katz based on data from the Harvard Dialect Survey conducted by Bert Vaux, Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge.

The site contains a quiz which you can take to see what how you talk … your dialect … says about where you live … or came from …

… the quiz is here … …

… and can be taken in about ten minutes.

I took it today … and found that how I talk really does say a lot about where I came from …

… as shown in the correlation map produced by my responses to the test questions:



Apparently, at least in my case, where I grew up had a much greater impact on how I talk than where I have lived for the 46 years since I graduated from college …

… and moved away from New York.

As you can see in the map, my “most similar” range of dialect locations is a very narrow band of locations in New York and New Jersey

… and the four “most similar cities” are within a relatively short distance of where I spent most of my childhood …

… in Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island.


And, somewhat oddly, my “less similar” range of dialect locations covers all of California


… where I have lived since 1969!


For the website of Joshua Katz, which contains a lot of information about regional dialects and his “Beyond ‘Soda, Pop or Coke'”, see:

The Science-Fiction Book Club …

… as a youngster in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, I was a big science fiction fan … both books and movies …

… and was a member of the Science-Fiction (yes, they hyphenated it in those days) Book Club

… which provided me with the visions of such Sci-Fi luminaries as the “Big 3” of science fiction … Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke & Robert Heinlein

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov

Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke

Robert Heinlein

Robert Heinlein

Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, John Christopher, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. van Vogt

… and many others …

… all of whom fired my imagination regarding outer space, space (and time) travel and interstellar adventure.


One bonus of membership in the S-F Book Club was being provided with a MOON TOUR RESERVATION card that “certified” that I was “among the first to apply for a reservation on a trip to the moon” …

… a card which (like the S-F Book Club books) I still have nearly 60 years after receiving it …

Science-Fiction Book Club Moon Tour Reservation Card

Moon Tour Reservation Card

… though it is somewhat the worse for wear after having been carried for many years in my wallet!


One other result of this early exposure to science fiction is my firm belief that we are not alone …

… and that there is other intelligent life somewhere in the universe …


… if only we could find it.


Which, in turn, resulted in my advising my wife and kids that if I ever just disappeared …

… it was because intelligent aliens had arrived and I had gone with them in their spaceship for travel to some distance planet!


I am also convinced that the day will come when, assuming we don’t exterminate ourselves first, humans will build their own interstellar spaceships …

… and will travel to distant stars and planets …

… what an adventure that will be …

… though sadly I will not live to see it.


This rumination was motivated today by a post on Facebook by my West Point classmate and friend Rich Estes

… about the Hubble Telescope

The Hubble Telescope

The Hubble Telescope

… and its 1996 study of what is called “the ultra deep field” …

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D

… and about which Rich commented, “Watch this then try to calculate the probability that we’re the only life, intelligent or otherwise, in the entire Universe.”


I don’t even know how to begin making such a calculation …

… but remain confident that the day will come when humans make contact with or are contacted by intelligent beings …

… from another planet.


The Science Fiction (no longer hyphenated) Book Club, by the way, is still around …

Science Fiction Book Club

Science Fiction Book Club

… and has its own Facebook page …

The Science Fiction Book Club on Facebook

The Science Fiction Book Club on Facebook

Remembering 9-11 …

9-11-01 was one of those days … everyone remembers where he or she was when first hearing the news … I was enroute from Mission Viejo to Los Angeles International Airport with Glenda Blake, as we were planning to fly to San Francisco Airport for a visit to Marin County …

… at first I thought it was an incident like the 1945 crash of an Army B-25 into the Empire State Building … an accident … likely to cause damage, but after which the building could be repaired …

… then we heard about the second plane hitting the South Tower of the World Trade Center and it became obvious that these were not accidents …

9-11-01 World Trade Center

9-11-01 World Trade Center

… with the airports closed, we turned around and went back to Glenda’s home … then drove to Marin a couple of days later …

9-11 Memorials

9-11 Memorials

… on March 3, 2012, I visited the World Trade Center Memorial with #1 son Doug and daughter Risa … one of the names engraved on the wall around the Memorial Pool is Brent James Woodall … Brent was a Cal football player and one of Doug’s friends when he was a manager for the 1991 team …

National 9/11 Memorial Visit -- 3-3-12

National 9/11 Memorial Visit — 3-3-12


The National 9/11 Memorial Website is here:

Larry & Joyce Wedding Photos May 6, 1967


My younger brother, Lawrence John Reilly Jr., was married to Joyce E. Gillich on May 6, 1967.  Barely more than two years later, Larry was one of 74 sailors lost in the sinking of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754).

Joyce & Larry

Joyce & Larry

I was still at West Point at the time, a month shy of graduation, so was not able to attend the wedding.  My brother Gerald Thomas Reilly, youngest of the three boys in the family, was Larry’s Best Man.

Jerry & Larry

Jerry & Larry

You may now kiss the bride!

Larry & Joyce Share First Kiss as Husband & Wife

Larry & Joyce Share First Kiss as Husband & Wife

My parents, Lawrence John Reilly Sr. and Marion Thomas Reilly, were in attendance at the wedding and happy to pose with the bride & groom.

Dad Joyce Larry Mom

Dad Joyce Larry Mom

And then they were off on their honeymoon.

Joyce & Larry

Joyce & Larry

In their two short years of marriage, Larry completed one deployment to Vietnam and was on his second when the Evans was sunk.  He was not yet 21 years old when killed and barely had a chance to know his son, Lawrence John Reilly III, who was just 13 months old at the time.

I have one photo of four generations of Lawrence Reillys (my grandfather’s name was Lawrence Ambrose Reilly):

Grandpa Pop & Larry with Larry III

Grandpa Pop & Larry with Larry III


For more on the sinking of the Evans, see my earlier blog post here:

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway 117th Anniversary


Today (Sunday, August 18, 2013) is the 117th Anniversary of the founding of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway, which wound its way up the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, California.  The Mt. Tam railroad, often referred to as “The Crookedest Railroad in the World”, had 266 curves over its 8.19 mile distance!  The railroad operated until the summer of 1930, then shut down and the tracks were torn up.

Parts of the old route in downtown Mill Valley, and the nearby residential neighborhoods, were built over and partially paved to create Fern Canyon Road and upper Summit Avenue.  What is left of the railroad grade is now a fire road and was one of my favorite places to run in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  I ran part or all of it with most of my running partners in those days, including sons Doug & Matt, Eric Nygren, Tom Hurst and Toby George.  On one occasion, my friend and running partner from the Orange County DA’s office, Doug Woodsmall, visited Mill Valley and we ran the full length of the railroad grade from bottom to top and back.








For more information on the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway, see this Wikipedia article:

And for an interesting short documentary about the railroad produced in 1976 for the Marin County American Bicentennial Commission, see this YouTube video:

And here for additional video footage of the railroad from the Marin County Free Library:

Lindenhurst High School Graduation 1963

Didn’t have time to get to this yesterday … which was the 50th Anniversary of my graduation from Lindenhurst High School, Lindenhurst (Long Island), New York.

Some pictures from Lindy — the school itself:

Lindenhurst High School

Lindenhurst High School

Our class was the last to graduate from this venerable old building (circa 1920’s).  A new high school opened the year after we graduated and this school became entirely a junior high school.

The cover of our 1963 yearbook “Bulldog” (which was also the school mascot):

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook cover

Lindenhurst High School 1963 Yearbook

I was boys sports editor of the yearbook and wrote the boys sports reports …

… ran on the cross-country team … which finished second in the Suffolk County Class A championship meet … and I qualified for the New York state championship meet, along with teammates Ed Quigley and Ed Hertel …

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook Cross Country

… was co-captain of the indoor track team …

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook Indoor Track

… and ran outdoor track (though I missed most of the 1963 track season after injuring my left ankle playing pickup basketball) …

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook Track & Field

… I was also a member of the  Varsity Club …

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook Varsity Club

… having won 8 varsity letters (3 in cross-country, 3 in indoor track and 2 in outdoor track) …

… was on the school’s Math team …

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook Math Team

… that’s me in the plaid jacket …

… and ran for “Mayor” in our Youth Week elections at the head of the “Rei-bel” party ticket …

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook Youth Week

… losing to my friend Bob Schroeder (who was the captain of our county championship football team).

I have fond memories of my four years at Lindy High … and the two of my teachers who were most influential in my life … Coach Carl Greenhut, who was both my PE teacher and my track coach … and Angela Hughes, my English teacher who taught me many of the language and creative writing skills on which I have relied ever since.

Lindenhurst High School Bulldogs

Risa’s Birth Announcement …

… revisiting the subject of my daughter’s birthday … while looking through some old file folders last night, I ran across the birth announcement which I prepared and distributed when she was born.

Unfortunately, no computer in those days … so I had to settle for typed text and rubdown letters for the headers.  Today, of course, it would be possible to match the paper’s own type and headers styles and make a more convincing “tearsheet”!

Reilly Larisa Birth Announcement redacted

Happy Birthday ……………….. Sean … Risa … & Matt

Okay, I am really bad.  Because I was in the middle of my trial when my son Sean & daughter Risa had their birthdays, I just didn’t have time to do their birthday power points.  When the trial ended, I was already way late, so decided to wait until son Matt’s birthday to do all three at once!  So, here they are.

Sean & Risa … happy belated birthdays!  Matt … happy birthday today!

The links are to animated power point versions of the birthday greetings.  Be sure to play them if you can.

Sean 34th Birthday 2013

Risa 36th Birthday 2013

Matt 39th Birthday 2013

Below are jpeg versions:

Sean Birthday 2013

Sean 34th Birthday 2013

Risa 36th Birthday 2013

Risa 36th Birthday 2013

Matt 39th Birthday 2013 -1-

Matt 39th Birthday 2013 -1-

Matt 39th Birthday 2013 -2-

Matt 39th Birthday 2013 -2-

“Lest We Forget” — USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)


June 3rd is a sad day in our family history, as it was June 3, 1969, when my younger brother, US Navy BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr., was killed in the collision between his ship, the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754) and the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne.

I was stationed at the 6th Naval District Headquarters at the time and learned of the collision late in the evening of June 2nd (it was early morning on June 3rd off the coast of Vietnam).  I had played softball that evening and the phone was ringing when my wife Sandy & I arrived home after the game.  That call was from my father-in-law, Joe Douglas, but we had barely started talking when the operator broke in with an emergency call.  Joe said, “I know what that is” and said I should take the call.  It was my Mom, telling me that the Evans, on which both my Dad and brother were serving, had been involved in a collision and half the ship had sunk, with a number of sailors unaccounted for.

I spent most of that night on the phone, trying to get information about the collision.  Finally, after I got to my office early the next morning, I spoke on the phone with a friend who was at the Navy public affairs office in Washington.  He had a list of the missing men, but said it was not yet authorized for public release.  I imposed on our friendship and he relented, saying that there was a Lawrence J. Reilly on the list.  I asked, “Sr. or Jr.?”  He told me that it didn’t say, so I asked what rate and he replied “BT3”.  My brother was missing and I knew that after that long there was no chance he was going to be found alive.  I then called home and Mom answered the phone.  There was no easy way to break the news, so I just said, “Dad’s okay, but Larry is missing.”  She said, “Oh, my poor Booper” and started crying.  “Booper” was her nickname for Larry when he was a baby.

Within a few hours, I had made arrangements to fly to California and got home in time to then fly up to Travis Air Force Base with my brother Jerry to meet Dad when the Navy flew him home ahead of the rest of the crew.  Dad had also been on the forward half of the ship, asleep in his quarters, at the time of the collision.  He managed to find his way off the ship, despite the fact that it was heeled over on one side and sinking rapidly.  He was one of a small number of crewmen who escaped from the half of the ship that sank.

Altogether, 74 men were lost in the collision.  Because it occurred just outside the designated Vietnam war combat zone, and despite the fact that the SEATO training exercise “Sea Spirt” during which the collision occurred was directly related to Vietnam duty, their names are not included on the Vietnam wall.  Over the years, a number of efforts have been made to have them added, all to no avail.

Coincidentally, I had a long lunch meeting today (June 8) with journalist Louise Esola, who is writing a book about the Evans.  Part of the impetus for and one of the themes of the book is the issue of getting the 74 names on the Vietnam Wall.  Louise showed me Navy records which specify that the service of the Evans on June 2, 1969, during which the ship was participating in “Sea Spirit”, qualified everyone on the ship for the Vietnam Service Medal.  It seems to me that this alone is reason enough to rectify the wrong that has been done to the memory of these men and to have their sacrifice recognized on the Wall.

Larry Jr Evans Collision 01

Larry Jr Evans Collision 02

Larry Jr Evans Collision 03

Larry Jr Evans Collision 04

Larry Jr Evans Collision 05

Larry Jr Evans Collision 06

Larry Jr Evans Collision 07

Larry Jr Evans Collision 08

Larry Jr Evans Collision 09

Larry Jr Evans Collision 10

Larry Jr Evans Collision 11

President Nixon Letter to Larry's wife, Joyce Reilly

President Nixon Letter to Larry’s wife, Joyce Reilly

4 Larry in Uniform

BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr

Larry Jr cropped

USS Frank E Evans June 3 1969 3

USS Frank E. Evans DD754 aerial view

During the previous deployment of the Evans to Vietnam in 1968, I was working at the headquarters of the Seventh Fleet detachment in Saigon and was able to arrange a visit to the Evans while she was on the gunline.  Buck Lanier, a friend and military reporter for the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, visited with us as well, writing the following article:

Dad, Larry & I onboard USS Frank E. Evans cropped


The USS Frank E. Evans Association website is here:

The USS Frank E. Evans Facebook page is here:

The USS Frank E. Evans Association history of the ship is here:

“In the Meets” — Lindenhurst High School Track & Field


Early June is a busy time of the year for personal remembrances and I’m a tad behind here, so going to catch up with a few of them today.

June 2nd was a time for reliving high school glory days … lol … it was the 51st anniversary of the day on which I ran a Lindenhurst High School record 2:05.7 for the 880 yard run. I was a junior at the time and missed most of my senior track season due to an ankle injury, so it was the highlight of my high school outdoor track career. My record lasted just one year, as my friend and teammate Dan Meehan broke it during the 1963 track season. Unfortunately, I have no photos of myself running track in high school, but do have a picture of the track record board that was published in the 1963 Bulldog, our yearbook. And one of myself and two of my teammates, Dave Polland and Jim Clark, who was my best friend in high school, also from the yearbook (check out the skinny tie!).

Lindenhurst Track Records 1963

Lindenhurst High School Bulldog 1963 Yearbook with Dave Polland

Actually, as I think about it now, it may have been Dave Polland’s record that I broke.  As I recall, the record was broken at least three times that season — once by Dave and once by Paul Busick, who was a senior that year.  Since I did it in the last meet of the season (the State Qualifiers meet), my name and time went on the record board.

My high school track and cross country coach, Carl Greenhut, was one of the most influential people in my life. Two of the primary lessons I learned from him: “Never Give Up” and “In the Meets”, his way of saying do your best when it counts the most. “The Hut”, as we called him, was also largely responsible for my going to West Point. I had given that possibility no thought whatsoever until after we ran in an invitational cross-country meet my senior year at which the then West Point plebe track and cross-county coach was the honorary starter. While we were running, Coach Greenhut spoke with him about me and set in motion the process by which I ultimately received my appointment to the academy.

Lindenhurst High School Track & Field and Cross Country Coach Carl Greenhut (early 1960's)

Lindenhurst High School Track & Field and Cross Country Coach Carl Greenhut (early 1960’s)

In 2011, Coach Greenhut was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Northern California.  His entry on their website reads:

Carl Greenhut – 2011 — Our most senior inductee to date, Carl Greenhut is 88 years young. His life in sports reads like a how to make a contribution text. From Stanford and Navy baseball in the 1940’s to migrating to the east coast, where he coached high school teams in football, basketball, track and field, cross country to local and state championships. Carl served as head coach at State University at Farmingdale before returning to the west coast to begin a coaching career at Northern California’s Foothill, De Anza, Diablo Valley and Granada Colleges where his instruction to over 3,000 adult students earned him the title of Bay Area’s best golf instructor. Carl is author of numerous articles on fitness and golf. Carl received the Johnny Walker International Hole in One Award on the 175 yard 18th hole.

There is also a video of an interview with him on the Hall of Fame site here: