Richard Allen - a Eulogy

December 18, 1932 - December 23, 1978

by Dennis K. McCormack

 

Dick Allen

The man who succeeds above his fellows

 is the one who, early in life,

 clearly discerns his object,

 and towards that object habitually directs his powers.

Even genius itself is but fine observation

 strengthened by fixity of purpose.

 Every man who observes vigilantly

 and resolves steadfastly

 grows unconsciously into genius.

 

--- Bulwer

 

 

There appeared in the Parade section of the Sunday paper, a few months back, the following quotation:

It takes so much to be a full human being, that there are very few who have the enlightenment or courage to pay the price --- One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living and loving with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.

 

This morning I would like to share with you some thoughts about a man who had the courage to reach out to the risk of living, and was by any person's standards, a man who lived life to the full, and gave life his best effort. Richard Allen was an individual who, when we talk about developing to one's full potential, did indeed strive always to discover this potential, and was in every respect, a "winner".

 

I first met Richard in 1959, under what some might not have considered the best of circumstances. You see, he was one of my instructors when I went through UDT training, and those of you here today who have had that-experience know why I mention that. However, I don't think I was alone in affording Richard almost instant respect -- not only because of his physical self, which I must admit was quite imposing, but rather because of something else, something within Richard himself. I was to later learn that psychologists refer to this as "innerness" -- a strength that comes from within, and is projected to others in the form of self-concept, which is to- say that Richard felt truly "okay" as a person, and was very much at ease within the self. That was Richard, a man who had "confidence" written all over him.

 

I wasn't to become his friend until a while later, when we boxed together for several years. I don't claim to have been in the same class or league as Richard, but it was during this period that I was to enter into a friendship with a super person, that was to last some 19 years. I'm getting ahead of myself though, so let us go back and review briefly the life of this friend.       

Richard was born in Pinebluff, Arkansas, on December 18, 1932. He attended schools in Little Rock, having graduated from Dunbar High School, where he was noted for his outstanding athletic abilities.

 

The Navy was to bring Richard to San Diego, and he took his basic training here at NTC in August of 1947. He was to serve on several ships, the Anderson, the Piedmont, the Virgo, and the Pickaway, until October, 1955, when he came to the Amphibious Base and entered UDT training. Upon graduation he was assigned to Team 12, as most of you are well aware. It was during this period that Richard was to make his mark on the boxing world, being known as the "Fighting Frogman". For the years 1956, 57, 58, 59, and 1961, he was the Golden Gloves National Light Heavyweight Champ. For the years 1958 and 1959, he was the-All Navy Champ; Southern California AAU Champ for 1958, 1959 and 1961, and in 1963 and 1964 he was the llth Naval District Champ. 1964 was to be the last year I would fight with Richard, with Richard retiring as a champ. I was not so fortunate, having to settle for runner-up. I always preceded Richard on the fight card, and I like to think that he went into the ring that evening to make up for my loss, which he did. He was fighting a Marine, and the Marine boxing manager was an old friend of Richard's, Frank Lenn; well, within a few seconds of the first round, Richard hit the Marine with a devastating left hook that lifted him up off the canvas. Before the Marine had even hit the canvas, the ref was raising Richard's arm in victory. I'll always remember the marine boxing manager yelling across the ring, "Richard, Richard, you belted my boy." I should mention that most of Richard's fights ended in this manner, his arm raised in victory, after just a few seconds into the fight. I recall one year where Richard made such quick work of his opponents, that his total fighting time for all of his fights was just a matter of minutes. He was offered several opportunities to turn professional, but decided instead to make the military his career.

 

Richard's military career included attendance at several schools to better prepare him for the role of leadership he was to later assume. Some of these schools included: Assault Boat Coxswain School, Cargo Handline, 2nd Class Diving School, Instructors Training, Basic Airborne (by the way, he was with one of the first groups from the West Coast to undergo training at Fort Benning), Nuclear Weapons Training, Mark VI Training, Jump Master Training, and he also found time to study karate under the late Gene Hetherington, in addition to his judo training at Stead Air Force Base in Nevada.

 

Richard's responsibilities with UDT included a tour of duty as the Chief Master at Arms, where he developed and executed team training procedures, administering team discipline, procuring equipment, watch and duty assignments, evaluation of training program, evaluation of team personnel, career counselor, and diving supervisor.

 

Richard's responsibilities as an instructor for the UDT Training United also included a tour of duty as the senior training instructor. He was to spend five years there, and I don't think there is anyone here who would doubt his effectiveness as a teacher and leader of men.

As a senior instructor with the UDT training unit., Richard was responsible for overall training effectiveness, direct supervision of instructor staff, instructor assignments, instructor evaluation, development of training-programs, and the scheduling of training evolutions.

 

It was during this period that Richard was to meet a woman who was to have a major influence on his future development. Her name was Anne Porter, and she provided Richard with the emotional support that was to propel him to achieve those goals he had set for himself. The love between Richard and Anne culminated with their marriage in 1968, and continued to blossom and grow from then on. Theirs was a very special relationship, which I can only speculate about, but after having spent a few hours with Annie, I came away with an awareness of a very deep, all-encompassing love that Richard and Annie shared with each other. They truly were at ease with each other's love. Theirs was a most satisfying relationship.

In 1969, after some 22 years of service, Richard decided to retire from active duty, and left the Navy, having attained the second-highest enlisted rank of an E-8 Chief Petty Officer.

Upon leaving the service, Richard was contacted in regards to working with the government in a civilian capacity, utilizing his background in diving, demolitions, and small unit tactic-type of warfare. He decided against this though, and instead embarked upon his next career, in restaurant management.                                                                

Richard went to work for Chart House, Incorporated, and in short order was named the manager of the Chart House in San Diego. He assisted in the opening of four Chart Houses, and also was responsible for the training of assistant managers. He left the Chart House a few years ago, and with Vince Olivera, was to open a fish restaurant on Shelter Island. This was a short-lived project, and as we are all aware, Richard formed a partnership with Doctor Thomas Wilson, and opened the "Black Frog" in March of this year.

 

My wife and I had dinner with Richard just a few weeks ago, and he talked of his heavy schedule, too many long hours, not enough sleep, and too much time away from his family. However, to see him walking around greeting-people and going through the necessary duties of running a business, one would never guess the pressure he must have been experiencing.

 

Richard died living the only way he knew how to, living life to the full, putting forth that extra effort necessary to realize his dreams. He wanted so much to be a success. If there is to be any sadness at all in Richard's death, it lies in the fact that he didn't have to prove a thing -­ he was just by his "being" and "existing"  a success.

I will miss Richard, but not near as much as those of you who knew and loved him as only his family has. To them, and I believe I speak for all of us here today, and for those friends who could not be with us, I extend our most sincere and deepest sympathies in this hour of sadness. But, because I feel that death is a beginning, not an ending, and that only in death can the "new" and "eternal" be known, that I look at Richard's death as a time of rejoice, rejoicing in the fact that he now truly lives forever.

A man by the name of Fuller writes ... "No person who is fit to live need fear to die. To us here, death is the most terrible thing we know. But when we have tasted it's reality it will mean to us birth, deliverance, a new creation of ourselves. It will be what health is to a sick man, what. home is to the exile, what the loved one given back is to the bereaved. As we draw near to it, a solemn gladness should fill our hearts. It is God's great morning lighting up the sky. Our fears are the terror of children at night. The night with its terrors, its darkness, its feverish dreams, is passing away; and when we awake, it will be into the sunlight of God."

My personal understanding of death includes the concept that we must always be prepared to die., not in a morbid sense where we are constantly thinking about death, but rather in a most positive and constructive manner, whereby we take life one day at a time, living life to the full, developing to our full potential, being and becoming what we are most capable of, a truly contented human being, a winner in all respects..

Richard, throughout his life, demonstrated for us what it means to be a winner; a winner in a world which threw many curves his way. He leaves us with a standard of excellence, and I know that those of us who have had the opportunity to know, to live, and to work with him, can not help but be better persons for his having passed our way.

I thought it most appropriate at this time to include a prayer written by a Navy chaplain, Father McMahon, a man known to many of us:

 

Dear Father in Heaven, if I may respectfully say so, sometimes you are a strange God. Though You love all mankind, it seems You have special preferences, too. You seem to love those men who can stand alone, who face impossible odds, who challenge every bully and every tyrant -- those men who know the heat of loneliness of a Calvary. Possibly You cherish men of this stamp because You recognize the marks of your only Son in them. Since this unique group of men known as SEALS (FROGMEN) know Calvary and suffering, teach them now the mystery of the Resurrection - that they are indestructible, that they will live forever because of their deep faith in You. And when they do come to Heaven, may I respectfully warm You, dear Father, they also know how to celebrate. So please be ready for them when they insert under your pearly gates.

 

We ask that you accept Richard Allen, remembering that he is a member of our family, and that you also remember who he was, why he was, and what he was; a son, a brother, a husband, a father, and a very dear friend...

 

Closing Prayer

Let us pray

Thanks to your mercy, 0 Infinite God, I know something about you not only through concepts and words, but through experience. I have actually known you through living contact. I have met you in joy and suffering, for you are my first and last experience of my life. You Yourself are my knowledge, experience, and love.

 Help us to borrow more from individuals such as Richard. Help us to do more than exist, help us to live. Help us to do more than touch., to feel; to do more than look, to observe; to do more than hear, to listen; to do more than think, to ponder. And finally, help us to do more than attend, to participate.

Amen.

 

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