Richard Lyon, the first Navy SEAL to achieve the rank of Navy admiral, passed away at the age of 93 on Friday at his home in Oceanside, California.
In 1942, Lyon enlisted in the Navy while attending Yale University and became one of the first Navy SEALs to endure “Hell Week,” where trainees endure a week of little to no sleep while taking part in difficult and strenuous drills. He was also selected to take part in the 1940 Olympic games in Tokyo as a swimmer, but because of the outbreak of World War II, the Olympic games never took place.
Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, said that Lyon is a legend in the Navy SEAL program and has been honored with the title “Bullfrog,” for accumulating the greatest amount of service after BUD/S training.
In 1974, Lyon became the first “Special Warfare” (SEAL) admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy.
“Every SEAL reflects on his warrior spirit and his lasting, impactful handprint on our legacy,” Szymanski said in a statement to the Associated Press. “He will be greatly missed.”
Altogether, Lyon served for more than 40 years in the Navy. He served during World War II and the Korean War and was one of the first American troops to enter Japan after the atomic bombs were dropped on them in 1945.
He served as a Navy Scout and Raider in the Pacific Theater and as an Intelligence Officer in China.
Lyon remained active in the SEAL community even after retiring and regularly attended SEAL graduation ceremonies.
“Dick Lyon personifies what it is to be a Navy frogman and Navy SEAL,” retired Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli told the Associated Press. “He had the smarts, the athletic ability and the heart to do special maritime operations.”
“We used to say that there are bold demo men and there are old demo men, but there aren’t any old and bold demo men. Well, Dick proved us all wrong. He was old and bold and full of life until the day he died,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.
Richard Lyon retired from the Navy in 1983 at the rank of Rear Admiral.
He became a retail marketing and financial executive and later served two terms as Mayor of the City of Oceanside.