CNO Sea Power Presentation Team

The growth of the Russian Navy during the 1960’s was a matter of great concern for the United States and the American Navy.

During the last 14 months (April 1970 to May 1971) of my four years in the Navy, I helped inform the public about the Russian Navy, and other subjects of interest about the American Navy, as part of the Navy’s CNO Sea Power Presentation team.

The Russian Navy … covered in a program called The Soviet Sea Power Presence …

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence 1 Title Slide

… was by far the most popular and and most often requested subject of our presentations.

My Dad, who was then nearing the end of his long and distinguished Navy career, was also a member of the CNO team. He and I had a spirited competition to see who would be the first member of the team to earn the Centurion Award for making 100 presentations. Dad won that competition, giving his 100th presentation on April 12, 1971, while I gave mine four days later.

The CNO team was formed by then Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas H. Moorer. I was officially welcomed to the team by him in a letter dated March 23, 1970.

CNO Sea Power Letter from CNO Admiral Thomas H. Moorer 700323

Not long after, on April 1st, I gave The Soviet Sea Power Presence presentation for the first of the 82 times … to the Sun City California Retired Officer’s Association.

CNO Sea Power News Clipping Sun City CA Retired Officer's Association 700401 First Presentation of Soviet Seapower Presence

Dad and I were the subjects of any number of news articles about these presentations, including a mention in Lou Copozzoli’s “Military Beat” column in the Santa Ana Register.

CNO Sea Power News Clipping Santa Ana Register 700607

I traveled all over Southern California to give these presentations … speaking to groups in 40 different cities. The audiences included military units, school groups, political organizations, community groups, and service organizations, such as Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, Masonic, Sertoma, Optimist, Shriner’s and Rotary Clubs.

I have in my CNO Sea Power scrapbook a number of brochures and programs promotion these presentations …

CNO Sea Power Rotary Club of Long Beach The Rotarygram 700720

CNO Sea Power Wilmington Rotary Club Program 700831

… as well as photographs.

CNO Sea Power Wilmington Rotary Club JTR Presenting Soviet Seapower Presence 700831

Dad and I did one TV program together, discussing The Soviet Sea Power Presence and showing many of the slides from the presentation. The program, called “Urban Forum”, was shown on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles.

On August 11, 1970, I did TV program solo on KHJ-TV on a daytime talk show called “Tempo”, which aired in Southern California and parts of Arizona and New Mexico. After each of our presentations, we submitted reports to the program coordinator in Washington DC. My report for this show notes that other guests that day were movie producer Otto Preminger, a Hollywood actress (whose name I did not record) and a pilot and executive from Continental Airlines. My report also notes (in the last line of the “General Interest” paragraph) that the host of the show was none other than a then little known host named Regis Philbin!

CNO Sea Power Presentation Report KHJ-TV (Tempo) Host Regis Philbin 700811

Depending on the available time, we used up to as many as 60 slides in the presentation about the Russian Navy. Among other things, they showed some of the Soviet ships …

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence 2 Soviet Naval Growth

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence 3 Russian Submarines

… and the extent to which the Russians were exerting their sea power presence in crucial areas of the world.

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence Exerting Russian Sea Power

My in-person audiences ranged in size from as few as 10 (the Alhambra Optimist Club) to as many 225 (the Long Beach Rotary Club and the State Convention of the California Republican Assembly (CRA), a very conservative political organization).

I did have an interesting experience with another Republican group, the Republican Women’s Club of Mission Viejo. A representative of the group contacted me about doing a presentation, the result of which I described in a memo to Navy Capt. Marr, the CNO team coordinator, on October 1, 1970.

CNO Sea Power JTR Memo to Capt. Marr 701001

Some things, it seems, haven’t changed much in the intervening 45 years! On the other hand, several Republican groups had no such reservations. Besides the state convention of the CRA mentioned above, I gave presentations to 10 other Republican organizations (most of them, unsurprisingly, in Orange County). I never was asked to speak to a group of Democrats.

In addition to the Centurion Awards, the Navy recognized the efforts of CNO Sea Power Presentation Team members with Certificates of Merit, of which I received five. Each came with a cover letter from the Chief of Naval Operations … by the time I received my first, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., had become CNO and he signed each of the letters I received with my certificates.

CNO Sea Power Letter from CNO Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr 700829 re Certificate of Merit

CNO Sea Power Certificate of Merit Fifth Award 710208

For several months leading up to my 100th, I led my Dad by a small number of presentations. Then, for a variety of reasons … including my impending departure from the Navy … Dad caught up to and passed me. Capt. Marr sent me a note asking if I had let him beat me to the 100 mark on purpose. I replied with the following memo to him:

CNO Sea Power JTR Memo to Capt. Marr 710426

My kids will confirm that that aspect of my personality never changed … not even for them.

In any event, it was just over 45 years ago … July 29, 1971 … that Dad & I received our Centurion Awards from Rear Admiral Joseph W. Williams, Jr., the Commandant of the Eleventh Naval District. By that time, I had resigned my commission and left active duty.

CNO Sea Power Photo 11th Naval District 710806

CNO Sea Power News Release 11th Naval District 710806 adjusted

Looking back through my CNO Sea Power Team files to write this blog reminded me just how invested I was in the program. I spent hundreds of hours preparing for, traveling to and from, and giving these presentations, many of which took place during off-duty hours. And I had forgotten how many memos I sent to Washington suggesting changes to the program and its presentations, asking for more information and new slides, and otherwise making a pest of myself.

I suspect that the two captains who supervised the team while I was a participant wondered exactly who that lowly lieutenant in Long Beach thought he was (in one memo, for example, I asked why other team members were not keeping up with the pace Dad and I were setting!).

On the other hand, I know they … and the admirals for whom I worked directly … appreciated the effort that I put into the program. My last Navy boss, Rear Admiral H. V. Bird, Commander of Naval Base Los Angeles – Long Beach, wrote a very nice farewell letter when I left active duty.

Naval Base Los Angeles - Long Beach Rear Admiral H. V. Bird Letter of Commendation 710615


Three Dot … 128

My “Gorilla” Story

As a child growing up in Lindenhurst … on the south shore of Long Island … we had a dog … a mutt, really … named Ranger.

Ranger near Hamilton Avenue mid-1950's adjusted & corrected

Ranger, Lindenhurst, mid-1950’s

Ranger’s mother … Lucky … wasn’t. She was hit by a car and killed not long after Ranger’s litter was born … and they weren’t even weaned yet … my mom had to hand feed them until they got big enough to eat on their own.

I was five at the time … and given my choice of which of the puppies we would keep … I picked the runt of the litter … and named him Ranger, after the lead character of a children’s TV show that I liked to watch … Ranger Joe.

Ranger became my faithful companion from then until I left home to go to West Point 13 years later … other than school, he went pretty much everywhere with me … and particularly enjoyed loping along next to my bike when I did my paper route … and running along with me when I did laps around the block as training for cross-country and track.

Eventually, he got too old to do the running … instead, he would lie on the grass in front of our house … and follow me with his eyes as I ran by each time.

Despite his small size, Ranger was fearless … too fearless, as it turned out. One day in March of 1964, he was with my mom and two younger sisters as they walked to the neighborhood grocery store. A much bigger dog came out of the Narrangansett Inn, a local restaurant and reception hall … thinking the dog was coming after his humans, Ranger ran to intercept him … and got into a fight which resulted in injuries so severe that he had to be euthanized.

Mom called me at West Point to give me the news … and I cried myself to sleep that night.

But, that isn’t the main point of this story … which is really about the dog I fell in love with three years later and who was going to be my next “Ranger”.

My Aunt Ethel and her family lived in West Babylon, not far from where we lived in Lindenhurst … and I visited there frequently after my family moved to California in mid-1964, shortly after Ranger’s death. They had a female dog named Queenie … and, coincidentally, she had a little of puppies in April 1967 … just a couple of months before I was due to graduate from West Point.

In my journal for May 6, 1967, I wrote that I had picked up Jessica Poulson, who I was seeing at that time, and then … “we drove out to Aunt Ethel’s. Queenie had her puppies. I picked out one for me — it’s all black with 4 white feet, a white-tipped tail, a white ring around its neck and a white face.”

Yurochka Standing in Grass


I had just that week also finished reading Boris Pasternak’s book Doctor Zhivago … and Jess & I went to see the movie based on the book that same night. I decided that I would name the puppy Yurochka … the affectionate name that Larisa Antipova calls Yuri Zhivago … and then ended up calling him Yuri for “short” (even though in Russian Yurochka is the diminutive of Yuri).

On Saturday, June 3rd, Jess and I were back on Long Island … and I picked up Yurochka …

Yurochka & Jim

With Yuri, June 3, 1967

… to take back to West Point with me for a few days. In retrospect, he was probably a bit young to be separated from his mother … but he enjoyed the visit … particularly sleeping with me on my brown boy (our plush comforter). Needless to say, it’s a good thing no one in authority saw him there in my room!

We graduated on June 7 and I spent the first three weeks of graduation leave hanging around with family on Long Island and visiting with high school friends and teachers … while Yuri was back at Aunt Ethel’s with his mom.

Yurochka on So Rare Too smaller

Yuri had the run of my Corvette

On June 28th, I finally left New York … driving to Washington DC, where Yuri and I stayed at a Holiday Inn. The next day, I visited the Pentagon and confirmed that I would have a few weeks temporary duty at the Pacific Mine Force headquarters before going to the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, in the fall … then on to Saigon, Vietnam, in November.

While driving, Yuri would sit in the passenger seat … or, if I had the top up on my Corvette, would lie on the convertible top cover, just behind the seats. When in the passenger seat, he was too small to see over the doorframe or hang his head out the window … so I usually turned the vent window in so that wind would blow on him while driving.

The third day of our trip, June 30th, Yuri and I visited my high school track teammate George Brown in North Carolina … then went on to Merritt Island, Florida, to visit with my best friend from high school, Jim Clark. We spent five days there, then on July 5th started the drive across the South … headed for Memphis, Tennessee, to visit with my West Point roommate & best friend, Jim “JO” Vance.

On Friday, July 7th, JO and I had dates with two sisters who lived in the Whitehaven section of Memphis … my date that evening was Sandy Douglas … and, as they say, the rest was history …

… regarding which, see…

After two days in Memphis, Yuri and I headed to Oklahoma, where I hoped to see my former girlfriend … Candy Sayes (ah, yes, a whole other story for another time). I was able to visit with her and her fiancée, Joe Davis, for about an hour … then drove down to Lawton, where I planned to see another of my West Point friends, Norm St. Laurent, at Fort Sill.

After visiting with Norm, I decided to drive straight through from Oklahoma to California … in part because I didn’t have any friends living between the two. On Tuesday, July 11, I got on the road about 8:00 am and drove until 3:00 … slept on the side of the road for about an hour … then hit the road again.

I stopped again about 10:00 and called home, then decided to continue driving until I got home … which I expected to do about 2:30 or 3:00 am. For most of the trip from Oklahoma to California, I was driving on either I-40 (which was not yet complete) or the old Route 66 … which connected the completed sections of I-40 at the time.

Shortly after midnight, I stopped in Barstow, California, for gas … I had the top up and Yuri was sleeping on the convertible cover behind me … I pulled up to a pump, got out and began pumping gas.

Perhaps a minute later, a woman from another car at the station asked me, “Is that your dog?”, while pointing toward the highway. I turned to see where she was pointing and saw Yuri … just as he was hit by a car speeding along the highway.

I immediately ran out to Yuri … and when I got to him, knew instantly that, although not yet dead, he would be soon … I picked him up and carried him back to the car … by the time I got to it, he had died.

I wrapped him in my lightweight West Point grey jacket … borrowed a shovel from the gas station attendant … and took Yuri out into the desert to bury him. I dug a hole about three feet deep … laid Yuri in it … and filled the hole. The driver of the car never even stopped.

The rest of the drive home took about two-and-a-half hours … during the entirety of which I was crying so hard that I had trouble driving … and which makes me cry even now thinking about it. My mom had stayed up, waiting for me to arrive, and I fell completely apart when I got there.

To this day, I do not know for sure how Yuri got out of the car … the convertible top was up … and the windows were up high enough that I don’t think he could have wiggled through the opening of either window. The only thing I could … or can … think of is that he must have awakened as I opened the driver’s door, then jumped down onto the seat and out the door behind me as I closing it.

However he did it, it took just a matter of seconds … no more than two or three … and, because I was concentrating on pumping gas, I never saw that he was out of the car until it was too late.

It is nearly 49 years since Yuri was killed, but the guilt I feel over his death burns my heart every time I think of it … which is still often. My journal entry for that day ends with the comment, “He trusted me so & I let him down in the worst way possible.”


I was motivated to write about Yurochka by the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo which resulted in the death of the silverback gorilla Harambe … and the resultant outpouring of animus and vitriol toward the mother of the child who got into the gorilla enclosure.

To the Christians among the vocal critics of the mother, I commend Matthew 7:1-3, King James Version (KJV):

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

In other words, clean up your own act before you judge the actions of others … and once you do, perhaps it would be best to help those others, rather than judging them.

Or John 8:7 (KJV):  He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

In the context of the gorilla discussion, it is a certainty that everyone, without exception, has at one time or another, been distracted in such a way as to lose track of a child … even a small child … for a short period of time. Most people are lucky in that nothing untoward happens during that momentary distraction … the Cincinnati mother … and I … were not so lucky.

Apparently, the Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor will announce tomorrow whether or not he is going to file criminal charges against the boy’s mother. The legal standard in Ohio for filing charges is whether or not she acted “recklessly” or created a “substantial risk” to the health and safety of her child.

Factual circumstances likely to play a part in the prosecutor’s decision include the child’s background and any history of dangerous behavior, risk factors at the zoo, and … perhaps most significantly … the length of time that the child was out of the mother’s direct sight and why.


A few more pictures of Yuri

Yurochka & Little Caruso smaller

Yuri (in the bushes) & his brother, Little Caruso

Yurochka Little Caruso & Little Queenie smaller

Yuri, Little Caruso & their sister, Little Queenie

Yurochka Bath 1 smaller

Bathing Yuri

Yurochka Bath 2 smaller

Drying Yuri

Yurochka & Suzie 1 smaller

My sister Suzie & Yuri

Yurochka & Suzie 2 smaller

Suzie & Yuri Snuggling


Three Dot … 127

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

Vietnam Veterans Day 2016 …

Today is Vietnam Veterans Day

… a day for honoring all those who served there, including …

… my Dad, GMCM Lawrence John Reilly Sr. (US Navy Ret) …

Reilly Lawrence John Sr. @ USS Frank E. Evans Reunion 2012

… my brother, BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr., one of The Lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)

Larry Jr cropped

… the rest of the crew of the Frank E. Evans

USS Frank E. Evans photo 2

… my prospective brother-in-law and West Point classmate, Thomas Havard “Trey” Sayes III (Capt. US Army) …

Sayes Thomas H -- 1968 Vietnam Army

… his Dad, Col. Thomas Havard Sayes Jr. (US Army Ret) …

Col. Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr. cropped

… all of my other West Point Class of 1967 classmates who served with courage and distinction in Vietnam …

West Point 1967 Crest

… and all other American & allied veterans of that war.

Vietnam Veterans Day 2016


Three Dot … 123

Veterans Day 2015

Today is a day for honoring and remembering all of those who have served in our country’s military …

… in particular, of course, members of our own families … the following graphics honor all known veterans from the Reilly-Douglas and Sayes-Davis families, three of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in their service …

… and my classmates from the West Point Class of 1967 ..

… and the members of the USS Frank E. Evans Association, including crewmen from both the Evans and the HMAS Melbourne.


Three Dot … 116

“We Forgot Jimmy!”

Most of my first day as a West Point cadet … July 1, 1963 … is a complete blur in my memory.  About all I can say for certain is that I still consider it one of the most miserable days of my life … so, I wouldn’t normally blog about it … except for one thing.

Because we lived in Lindenhurst, on the south shore of Long Island, I was one of the fortunate New Cadets who was taken to West Point by family … and the whole crew made the trip … Mom & Dad, Larry Jr., Jerry, Luanne and Suzie (who was then just four years old and with whom I was particularly close).

Once I left the family to “report to the man in the red sash” and begin my life away from home, the rest of the family participated in various activities designed to help them understand what their now departed sons (no women yet at West Point then) would be doing for the next four years.

Eventually that day, the upper class cadre trained the 800+ newest cadets well enough for us to march in our first parade … and to be accepted into the Corps of Cadets.  And then it was time for the families to leave … which mine did, beginning the drive back down to Long Island.

It wasn’t long, however, before Suzie realized that I wasn’t in the car … and she cried out, “We forgot Jimmy” … when told that I wasn’t coming with them, she cried most of the trip home.

Little did she … or I … or any of the rest of the family know that by the next time I would visit home, in June 1964, Dad (a Navy Chief) would have been transferred to Long Beach and they would have moved to Garden Grove, California … and that I would not again set foot in my childhood home until invited in by the current owners when I visited the old neighborhood nearly 46 years later in March 2010.


Three Dot … 112

“Lest We Forget”

USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754) “Lest We Forget”Remembering today The Lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754), including my brother, BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr., lost at sea in the early morning hours of June 3, 1969, when the Evans was cut in half by the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne.


This great print of the USS Frank E. Evans on canvas is available from the eBay store of Great Naval Images LLC, through their websites and, or at this eBay auction (current as of today):


 Three Dot … 109

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

Pepperdine University School of Law Class of 1975

Forty years ago today, I graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law, marking the start of my career as a California lawyer. Pepperdfine Univesity School of Law Diploma 750524 MediumBecause it was necessary for me to work full time while attending law school, I took most of my classes in the Pepperdine night school program … when I started in 1971, we attended classes in a small former commercial building on Westminster Avenue in Garden Grove, with each classroom in what had been a small store … while the law school administrative office and law library were located in a former office building across the street from the classrooms.

Night school meant taking a somewhat smaller class load each semester … but also taking four years to graduate, rather than the three years that full-time attendance required.

The summer before my third year, the law school moved to Anaheim, occupying what had been the Buzza-Cardoza warehouse and manufacturing facility … this was a definite improvement, but I graduated in May before the law school opened its new … and beautiful … campus on a hillside above Malibu. Pepperdine University School of Law campusIn part because I was the President of the Student Bar Association during my third year (1973-74) … Pepperdine University School of Law Student Bar Assocaition President Plaque 1973-74 High… I was fortunate to have had a close working relationship with the Dean of the law school, Charles F. Phillips. I also had several excellent professors, including James McGoldrick … about whom I wrote here …

… Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Vincent Dalsimer … and the District Attorney of Orange County, Cecil Hicks. Within a few minutes of the start of my first class in criminal law, I knew that I wanted to practice criminal law … and to work for Cecil as a deputy district attorney … a desire I was able to fulfill shortly after learning the following December that I had passed the California bar exam.

Despite working full time … and being active in the student bar association and the law school’s moot court competition … I managed to maintain a spot on the Dean’s Honor Roll …

Pepperdine University School of Law Dean's Honor Roll Certificate Academic Year 1972-73… to graduate cum laude (#3 in my class) … and to win five American Jurisprudence Awards for standing first in my class in the subjects of contracts, torts, constitutional law, conflict of laws and labor law. Pepperdine University School of Law American Jurisprudence Award Constitutional Law 1973Although my team finished 2nd in the 1975 Pepperdine Moot Court Competition, I received the Vincent J. Dalsimer Award as the Top Advocate in the competition … and was added to the Pepperdine team which competed in the 1975 Roger J. Traynor State Moot Court Competition.

Pepperdine University School of Law Roger J. Traynor California Moot Court Competition Certificate 1975My law school experience was, in some ways, very difficult, as it meant long hours and little free time, not even on weekends … but it was also an incredibly rewarding four years, during which I received a solid foundation for the profession I have practiced ever since.

Three Dot … 106

Happy Mother’s Day 2015

Wishing all of the mothers in the combined and extended Reilly-Douglas-Sayes-Davis family a Happy Mother’s Day today. Sadly, since we last celebrated Mother’s Day, we lost two matriarchs of the family. Robin “Mimi” Sayes, mother of Thomas “Trey” Sayes, Candy Sayes Davis, Morgan Sayes and Summer Sayes Purvis, died peacefully while napping during the afternoon of October 16, 2014, at her home in San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico, at the age of 89. And Ruth Guzinski, mother of Sue Thomas and grandmother of Jeff Thomas, and Gary, Larry and Angela Reposa, died on March 1, 2015, also at the age of 89. So we’re remembering them today, along with the other mothers who are no longer with us … Marion Thomas Reilly, mother of myself, Larry Reilly Jr., Jerry Reilly, Luanne Reilly Oda and Suzie Reilly; Dorothy Hardy Douglas, mother of Sandy Douglas Reilly, Penny Douglas and Mike Douglas; and Sandy Reilly, mother of my children, Douglas Reilly, Matt Reilly, Larisa Reilly Thomas and Sean Reilly. We love and miss them all.


Slide4Slide5Three Dot … 103

Put the Frank E. Evans Lost 74 on the Vietnam Wall …

… so, after my previous post on this subject:

… one of our cats climbed up on my desk and barfed all over the copy of “American Boys” that Louise Esola had inscribed for me to President Obama …

… necessitating that I have her send me another autographed copy for the president …

… and also necessitating that I revise my letter to him.

I did that on January 1st … put together a presentation booklet to send with it … sent the package certified mail … and it was delivered to the White House on January 20th …

… here is the complete presentation that I sent to President Obama:

Front Cover

Front Cover

Letter to President Obama -- Page 1

Letter to President Obama — Page 1

Letter to President Obama -- Page 2

Letter to President Obama — Page 2

Slide3Slide4Page 1 of PresentationPage 2 of PresentationPage 3 of PresentationPage 4 of PresentationPage 5 of PresentationPage 6 of PresentationPage 9 of PresentationPage 10 of PresentationPage 11 of PresentationPage 12 of PresentationPage 10 of PresentationPage 12 of PresentationPage 13 of PresentationPage 14 of PresentationPage 15 of PresentationSlide12Slide13Slide11Slide12Slide13Slide14

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.

70th Anniversary!

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the wedding of my parents, Lawrence John Reilly Sr. and Marion Thomas Reilly.

It is a poignant day for Dad, as he has to remember the event without the love of his life, who has been gone for more than two years. Dad is now 90 and, despite some struggles with his own physical health, remains mentally alert.

From the 34 of us who wouldn’t be here without them, here’s to the best parents, grandparents and great-grandparents that anyone could ever hope for.


In 1814 we took a little trip…

Reblogging here something by my daughter Larisa Joy Reilly Thomas, posted today on her blog “Roots of Kinship”. Great little family story about one of my favorite songs from my teen years, which took on family significance far exceeding the musical quality of the song!

The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny HortonDespite its rather unusual subject matter, The Battle of New Orleans won the 1960 Grammy for Best Country & Western song and was 1959’s #1 song on the Billboard Top 100 — see:

Johnny Horton had several other hits with unlikely subjects, including “Sink the Bismarck”, about the British Navy’s efforts to sink the German battleship Bismarck in World War II; “Comanche”, about the horse Comanche, which was the sole survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and Custer’s Last Stand; and “North to Alaska”, about the 1896 Alaskan gold rush.

Johnny Horton's Greatest Hits AlbumSadly, Horton was killed in an automobile accident on November 5, 1960, near Milano, Texas. Like several others of my favorite singers (including Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and Eddie Cochran) he left us too soon.

Thanks, Kiddo, for this trip down memory lane!


Roots of Kinship

Battle of New OrleansBattle of New Orleans. By Edward Percy Moran. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons In 1959, Johnny Horton earned a number one hit on the Billboard Charts for the song The Battle of New Orleans.  Written by Jimmy Driftwood, it commemorates the victory of the United States over the British Army at the end of the War of 1812.1

Today, January 8, 2015, commemorates the 200th anniversary of the conclusion of the battle, fought from December 23, 1814 to January 8, 1815.  It was the last important battle of the War of 1812, occurring after the Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814 (but before the treaty was ratified by both governments in February 1815).2The Battle of New OrleansAll of this is to set the background of a song that played a significant role in my childhood.  When my father was overseas in the US…

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Put the Lost 74 on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


Veterans Day 2014

Today is a day for honoring and remembering all of those who have served in our country’s military. In particular, of course, members of our own families. The following graphics honor all known veterans from the Reilly-Douglas and Sayes-Davis families, three of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in their service.


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.

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

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My Mommy Was Going to Have a Baby …


In 1974, my wife Sandy & I had one child, oldest son Douglas, and were planning to adopt a second … we worked long and hard on the adoption process and were nearing its conclusion when Sandy unexpectedly became pregnant.

Birth of another child would have interrupted the adoption process … one of the rules at the time being that no other infant could be present in the adopting family.

Nevertheless, and knowing that adoption would remain an option in the future, we were happy and excited to learn of the pregnancy … as was Doug, despite his expressed preference for a playmate, rather than a helpless little brother or sister.

Sadly, neither was to be … 40 years ago today, May 31, 1974, Sandy suffered a miscarriage and lost the then two month old fetus.

Proving that even tragedy can sometimes have unexpected benefits, however … the miscarriage meant that we were able to continue with the adoption process … a process which led to the arrival in 1975 of our #2 son, Matthew Suk Zook Ahn Reilly … a Korean orphan then just over a year old.

Shortly after the miscarriage, I wrote a story about the pregnancy and the loss … copies of the original version of which are reproduced below.

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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/>

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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.





My Dad taught me …

Father and son holding hands… to be a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather …

… a loyal friend … a gentleman …

… and an honest, kind, considerate and generous person.

My Mom taught me not to take any shit from anyone.

Kicking AssThe teachings of which of my parents I will follow in any interactions we have …

… is entirely up to you.

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