LISTEN to Dick Lyon on Hometown Heroes (includes complete interview)
90-year-old Rear Admiral Dick Lyon of Oceanside, CA appears on episode #312 of Hometown Heroes, detailing his trailblazing Navy career. A native of Pasadena, Lyon was a swim champion who was once asked by another of Muir Tech High School’s star athletes for some lessons in the pool. Listen to the program to find out if Dick was successful in teaching Jackie Robinson how to swim.
Lyon qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in 1940, and would have competed for a 4×100 freestle relay team favored to win a gold medal, but the games were canceled that year because of the war in Europe. He did get to be part of a world record relay at Yale, where he graduated in less than three years. You’ll hear Dick remember how he found out about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and how a notice on a bulletin board changed his life. You’ll hear him recall the fine print on that notice, which led to his volunteering for the Scouts and Raiders, the World War II era’s version of the Navy SEALs.
Dick explains the two reconnaissance missions he made at the end of World War II, including his evaluation of a Japanese beach that produced a surreal encounter with an older Japanese man. You’ll learn why Dick’s Yale degree became relevant in his initial conversation with the man who spoke perfect English. Displayed prominently in Lyon’s Oceanside home are the gifts that resulted from that eye-opening meeting.
Lyon was called back to active duty for the Korean War, and details some tense moments he spent in Wansan Harbor, holding his breath underwater as he used bolt cutters to separate mines from their moorings. He remained a reservist after Korea, and in 1974 became the first Navy SEAL to reach the rank of admiral.
Lyon remains very connected with the SEAL community. He has been mentoring members of Navy SEAL class #302, and will deliver the keynote address at their graduation. You’ll hear him speak to what he believes is the most crucial character trait a prospective SEAL must possess, and hear his take on the SEAL Ethos. Dick served two terms as mayor of Oceanside, but says his greatest satisfaction now comes from the time he spends with his family. Visit the Hometown Heroes facebook page for more photos relating to Dick and his story, and make sure you listen to the program to hear Dick recall details from an adventurous wave he’s still riding.
Thanks to Bishop Eric Menees of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin for recommending Admiral Lyon for the program. If you have a veteran you think should appear on Hometown Heroes, click the Suggest a Veteran tab at the top of the page.