Happy Mother’s Day 2016


Happy Mother’s Day 2016 to all of the moms in the combined and extended Reilly-Douglas-Sayes-Davis family. This past year has been a good one for all of our moms … and by next year, we’ll have some new additions to this display. Thanks, MOMS, for all you have done and continue to do to make our families happy, healthy and well-loved. We love you all.

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“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.

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Three Dot … 112

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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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.

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Put the Lost 74 on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


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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!

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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


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.

memorial-day-1

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 …

… https://jimsthreedot.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/lest-we-forget-uss-frank-e-evans-dd-754/

… and here …

… https://jimsthreedot.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/uss-frank-e-evans-reunion/

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/>http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Taps+video&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=5A04AC3C5F8C7EAEBAD45A04AC3C5F8C7EAEBAD4

———- 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.

Scan-140524-00040210000502100006021000121GoldStarWindBanner

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day


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December 11th … A Shared Birthday …


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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

December 7th … 45th Anniversary


1968

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.

Larry & Joyce Wedding Photos May 6, 1967


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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

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

https://jimsthreedot.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/lest-we-forget-uss-frank-e-evans-dd-754/