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Cover Story November 11, 2004



by lyle e davis

by lyle e davis


He was 18 years old. 


Chronologically, he was still a kid, but he had been trained for and was acting in a man’s job.  It was his first time in combat and he had killed three enemy soldiers, one of whom died in his arms. 


Taking a human life is a difficult thing to do . . . at least the first time.  I don’t suppose it ever gets to be easy.  This first time was devastating to the young lad.  And he had taken three human lives that day.  Three.


Upon returning to base he went to his chaplain and spilled his guts.  The chaplain looked at him, told him to wait there and left the room.  He came back with a fifth of Canadian Club whiskey and told the young warrior that would help him get through the pain.


It was probably the worst counseling he would ever receive.  It ended up with the young warrior becoming an alcoholic.


His name is Richard.


I have had the privilege of knowing a number of US Navy SEAL team members, one of whom is a close personal friend.  I have also known US Army Rangers and Special Forces members.  These are the elite units of the military.


You want to survive a combat situation?  Become part of an elite unit.  They’ll work your butt off, and you’ll train, train, train.  The good news is you’ll wind up being highly trained in survival, in combat, in firearms, in team operations . . . all of which add up to you being less likely to become a casualty.


The firepower these units can muster, if needed, is awesome.  The resources they have at their command, equally awesome. But the missions are also awesome.  Often, the missions involve a ‘sneak and peek’ operation, where the goal is reconaissance, observing the enemy, his strength, his movement, etc.  Other times, the mission is more of the blood and guts variety . . . which involves killing another human being, often, in hand to hand combat, up close and personal.  Sometimes it’s the garotte, sometimes a knife . . . sometimes it’s a silencer-equipped automatic.  Anything that works is put to use in eliminating an enemy. 


“Terminating with extreme prejudice,” some call it.


Most of the time the missions are classified and, even today, are not able to be talked about.  Further, some of the missions are such that the participants never want to talk about them again.  They bring back demons that have disrupted lives . . . have caused marriages to fail, families to break apart, and, often, alcoholism.


Richard was one of those who, though a highly decorated SEAL, had become an alcoholic.  


Richard put in a full 30 years in the Navy, most of which was as a SEAL.  If the service would let him, he’d still be part of the SEALS.  He loves it, he misses it, he misses the camaraderie.


That is not to say his service tenure was without pain.  It wasn’t.  Because of some of the assignments he has had, he found himself drinking more and more, to blur the memories of what may have transpired that day, or that night, or that week.  In time, his friends, colleagues and SEAL teammates recognized that Richard had become an alcoholic.  Big time.


Fortunately for Richard, he was happily married to a beautiful Registered Nurse.  She was patient to a fault.  Finally, one day, she laid down the law and told Richard in no uncertain terms he was going to have to rid himself of the alcoholism.  There was no alternative.  He had to do it or else.  It was what folks today call a“Tough Love” session.  He was going to have to go into de-tox and rehab himself, because if he didn’t do it voluntarily, she was prepared to have him committed.


“I readily agreed to it,” Richard says.  “I was fully prepared to quit drinking.  For that day.   Little did I realize she really meant it when she said I had to stop drinking forever.”


For the next 30 days, she sat with Richard . . . she nursed him through the Delerium Tremens . . . the sweats . . . the stomach that would not behave itself, the temper tantrums . . . .


Thanks to her, in time, he had, for the first time in a long time, become sober.  He has now been sober for seven years.


Though he is now retired from the military he has put his training to good use.  He operates on assignment as a private security ‘escort’ service.  Clients who need to go into other countries and are concerned about their safety and security employ Richard to provide for their safety.  He has traveled the world in this capacity, recently having returned from China, he’s also been to most of the countries in Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Asia.  . . . and none of his clients have ever come to harm.  He is highly paid for his work.


He has contacts in many of the countries that provide him with the necessary resources, permits, access, etc., to make things move smoothly.  You don’t serve in the SEALS for 30 years without developing an extensive and reliable network of people you can count on.


A SEAL, on duty in Afghanistan



When not on assignment he is active with his church, Palomar Christian Church, of San Marcos. 


One of the missions he has taken on is to offer his help to anyone who is an alcoholic, or who has an alcoholic family member.


“I’ve been there.  I’ve walked their walk.  I know exactly what they’re going through.  I believe I can help them . . . if they want the help.”


Richard tells the story of a Navy fighter pilot:  “He was a real hot shot pilot.  God’s gift to Aviation, he felt.  He had no time at all for the enlisted men.  They were simply a sea of blue, or a sea of white, people who had no function in life other than to serve him, Mr. Ace Fighter Pilot.


He was on a mission over North Vietnam , five days away from going home.  He had just one little problem crop up.  His plane took a hit by a SAM (Surface to Air Missile).  He bailed out, parachute opened - and then he had another little problem.  He landed right in the middle of the enemy.  He was quickly escorted to the Hanoi Hilton where he became just one of many Navy and Marine pilots. 


Interrogrations, beatings, elbows tied behind his back, then hoisted above the floor by that same rope, putting intense strain and pain on his arms, elbows and body, and then, after a week of this torture, he was moved to an 8’ x 8’ cell.  A cell with no windows, no light, just darkness.  Constant darkness.  No way to tell if it was day or night.  He had plenty of time to think, to look inside himself, to examine his philosophies, his way of looking at life. It was a mental exercise that he would experience often, just to keep from going nuts.


One day, he began to hear a sound that he thought sounded like a cricket chirping.  He decided if nothing else, that cricket could keep him company.  He felt around the floor in the dark, searching for the cricket, desperate for some companionship, even that of a lowly cricket.


He didn’t find the cricket.  What he found was a stiff piece of wire  Tracing the wire, he found that it led to a small hole in the wall, and to an adjacent cell.


He then noticed the “chirping” was actually Morse Code.  He deciphered the message as saying, “Hiya, how you doin’ buddy?”


“Terrible,” he tapped back, again in Morse Code, “I’m all alone, it’s dark, I’m hungry, I’m cold, and I’m afraid.”


“Sounds to me like you’ve got a disease,” came back the coded message.

“I don’t think so,” he tapped back.  “What disease are you referring to?”


“You have the disease that says you are a prisoner.  You are only a prisoner if you allow yourself to be a prisoner.”


And that, said Richard, is the message he tries to get over to those he counsels.  If they have an alcohol problem, it’s only a problem if they allow it to be a problem.  Once they begin to realize that, “we move on to the next step,” he says, “they have begun their road to recovery from alcoholism.”


Today, just as he has accepted many other missions in his life, he accepts a new one.  “While I am not going out actively recruiting alcoholics to counsel, it doesn’t work well that way, I am available.  It only really works if they make the first step and seek help, I’m available.  Guys, or gals, who are looking for a friend, a buddy to help them through this, those that are serious about quitting alcohol . . . I’m available.”


Though Richard is a highly sought after security consultant and is high demand, he has placed his mission of helping alcoholics above all else.  (His security/escort profession is the reason we are only using Richard’s first name and no photos of either he or his wife.  We also have opted to not show his wife’s picture or use his name, again, due to security concerns).


“Money is no longer important to me as a primary goal,” he says, “helping those alcoholics who want and need help is.  They come.  That is my primary mission.”


Because Richard and his wife are in the midst of moving to new quarters, The Paper has offered to serve as a clearinghouse and referral agency for those wishing to meet with Richard.  Contact us at:  the , or by phone at: 747.7119.  


All communication is strictly confidential.  We will give your name, phone number, and background to Richard.  He will contact you to assist in your battle against alcoholism.  He’s beaten it . . . he can help you, or a loved one, beat it as well.  But the initiative begins with you. 





















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