Golden Gate Wing Guest Speaker Archive

Presentation Date: March 28, 2013

Rear Admiral (Ret) Richard Dick Lyon, U S Navy Reserve

Richard Lyon, the son of the late Captain and Mrs. Norman M. Lyon, USNR (Ret.), was born on July 14, 1923 in Pasadena and is a fifth-generation Californian. He attended Yale University as a Western Regional Scholar, graduated with engineering honors in 1944, and received his master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University in 1953.

While a Yale undergraduate, he enlisted as a Seaman Recruit in 1942. Immediately after graduation, he attended Columbia University Midshipmen’s School where he was Regimental Commander and received his commission in October 1944. He served as a Navy Scout and Raider in the Pacific Theatre and in China as a Scout Intelligence Officer. When released from World War II duty in 1946, he affiliated with the Naval Reserve. Returning to active duty in early 1951, he reported to Beach Jumper Unit One. Subsequently, he was a plank owner of Underwater Demolition Team FIVE and served in Korea until late 1952. Upon release, he resumed his Reserve participation, commanding seven Reserve units during the next 26 years.

In July 1974, Lyon became the first Special Warfare (SEAL) admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy. He is a graduate of both the National and Naval War Colleges and he has served on the National Naval Reserve Policy Board, the Secretary of Defense Reserve Forces Board, the Chief of Naval Operations Reserve Advisory Board, and was the first Reserve officer ever to be appointed to the Board of Directors of the United States Naval Institute where he served as Chairman of the Editorial Board. Included among his 20 awards and decorations are the Legion of Merit, Navy Commendation Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.

Another first in his naval career was the request by the Secretary of the Navy for Lyon to be the first Reserve admiral to return to active duty as Deputy Chief of Naval Reserve in July 1978. In this capacity as the senior Reserve officer in the Navy, he was responsible for the development and implementation of plans and policies affecting the mobilization readiness of the Naval Reserve and for control of the $1.5 billion budget. During this third period of extended active duty, he also became the SEALs’ BullFrog 1. Lyon was released in 1981 and subsequently retired at the rank of Rear Admiral in July of 1983 after nearly 41 years of naval service.

His civilian career has involved retail marketing and financial management, most recently as a Registered Principal with the National Association of Securities Dealers in Newport Beach and Oceanside, California. He is also the former director of several corporations.

Admiral Lyon is an Olympic and world record swimmer, private pilot, avid sailor, body-surfer, and golfer. He is married to the former Cynthia Gisslin of Jamestown, New York; they have nine children. The Lyons, including their three youngest children, have resided in Oceanside since 1981.