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

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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.

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Three Dot … 116

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.

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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.

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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!

———-ooo———-

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


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.

Mom

Mom

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.

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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:  https://jimsthreedot.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/take-off-those-red-pants/

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”.

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LTC Thomas Havard Sayes Jr.

LTC Thomas Havard Sayes Jr.

Marion Thomas Reilly

Marion Thomas Reilly