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A Celebration of Chuck Lyda's Life
California State University-Sacramento Aquatic Center
Memorial Service - July 10, 2010

Address by
Chief Warrant Officer Brian L. Peterson

Good evening Carol, General Officers, fellow service members, family and friends of Chuck Lyda, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honor to stand before you this evening and have the opportunity to offer a few words about our fellow soldier, teammate, competitor, husband, and friend... full text below

Remarks by
Colonel Michael L. Herman

I want to thank all of you for being here this evening. The size of this crowd demonstrates not only the depth of our feelings for Chuck, but also the solidarity we all feel as a part of the Guard family. In preparing for today, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of soldiers who have served with Chuck over the years, and I also want to thank them for their assistance... more

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Address presented by Chief Warrant Officer Brian L. Peterson
Command Chief Warrant Officer, California National Guard

Chief PetersonGood evening Carol, General Officers, fellow service members, family and friends of Chuck Lyda, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honor to stand before you this evening and have the opportunity to offer a few words about our fellow soldier, teammate, competitor, husband, and friend, Chuck Lyda.

My formal military and competitive sports relationship with Chuck began during the early summer of 1991 at the Auburn Ski Club. At that time, a small group of us in the California National Guard were members of the National Guard Bureau Marathon All-Guard Team and we were invited to train for the Guard Bureau-sponsored Summer Biathlon Competition at Camp Ripley, Minnesota. Chuck, of course, was one of the veterans of the winter version who was present to show us the basics and help us train. Since many of us had little or no experience with Summer Biathlon -- the sport of running and rifle marksmanship -- Chuck's mentorship was greatly appreciated.

As in many things I suspect he did in life, Chuck shared his knowledge and expertise of the subject matter, showed a great deal of patience for the novices amongst us, and at times, complimented us on our progression. And even though I really thought he was being generous most of the time with his compliments, I later realized that it was simply his way of building confidence in others. That, to me, was one of the defining characteristics of Chuck Lyda.

I remember being told that he had broken his ankle while ski jumping that past winter and was not at his normal fitness level by the time that training rolled around. But, as many of us here tonight know, that had little or no meaning to Chuck because he was a true competitor. And as we trained, I recall that despite his weak ankle, he ran those ski club trails more aggressively than we could because he was an exceptional athlete and a competitive warrior. And but for Chuck's coaching, team membership, and overall support to the novices amongst us, we would not have performed as well as we did as a team of California National Guard Summer Biathletes.

In the early winter that followed, Chuck converted some us, including Charles Locke and me, to cross-country ski skating along with the help of then Carol Shick and Doug Brown, all of whom had long perfected the style and grace of that form of skiing on the skinny skis. And as we slowly transformed into Winter Biathletes, Chuck taught us everything we needed to know -- proper technique, ski prep and waxing, weapon care and safety, strategy -- but more importantly, how to push ourselves a little harder each time we trained and competed. He always made the sport look easier than it was. And, he would always share those famous words of wisdom: "ski fast and shoot straight." That is a phrase to remember for life.

And who could forget how Chuck had the ability to make things painful for some us in Winter Biathlon, especially in the Military Patrol Race. The format is simple -- four team members, skiing as one unit along the course with the senior-most military member, usually Chuck, serving as the Team Leader who, by the way, does not shoot but merely directs the sequential fire of the other three team members on the range.

In this patrol format there was inevitably one team member who earned the dubious and dreaded title of "whipping boy." It was a term of affection used to describe the slowest skier on the team -- slowest being a relative term -- and on occasion, Charles Locke and I had been the "whipping boys." That was the last thing you wanted to be if you were on a patrol team with Chuck Lyda as it was a painful and humiliating experience for several notable reasons.

First, you had Chuck skiing right on your tail and yelling to make you move faster, particularly on the up-hills which caused a great deal of anxiety along with burning legs and lungs. Chuck often said that Winter Biathlon was an enjoyable experience, and it was -- for him.

But even worse, he was usually carrying my rifle and occasionally, another team member's, as well. You see, in the patrol format, all shooters have to start and finish not only with their teammates but also with their individual weapons. And of course, have them in their possession when they enter the range to engage the targets. But there was no rule that precluded one team member, usually the strongest skier, from carrying one or two weapons along the course and safely passing the weapons back to the shooter or shooters at the appropriate time. This strategy, theoretically, allows the slower member to ski lighter and faster without the added weight of a rifle on one's back. But as you might expect with Chuck, carrying one or more weapons did not slow him down in the least - it just made him work harder. So, a "whipping boy," under those circumstances, had little about which to complain. And after it was all over and we finished as a team, it no longer mattered -- until the next time.

Dairy Queen BlizzardAnd speaking of team patrol events, though I cannot attest from personal observation, there is a legend which has been passed down in the Guard Biathlon Program over the years. The legend involves the creative use of a bungee cord tied from stronger skiers to another team member for the purpose of towing, and this was tried at least once until the rules were changed in order to prevent anything such as that occurring in the future. The legend goes on to suggest that Chuck and Doug Brown may have collaborated in that creative effort.

And one other thing, Chuck would always pick a particular race during the National Guard Biathlon Championships at Camp Ripley andthe team member who shot the poorest during that race bought ice cream for the rest. It was a sure bet for Chuck. You see, he seemed to like ice cream -- Dairy Queen Blizzards, mostly -- and there happened to be a Dairy Queen in Little Falls, the nearest town in proximity to Ripley. And, as you might expect, Chuck ate a lot of free Blizzards.

Over the years, it was my good fortune to know Chuck and Carol better. And I am reminded of the time the three of us skied the Minnesota Finlandia in Bemidji, Minnesota, together. Actually, Carol and I skied the race together since Chuck was never seen again after he rocketed away at the start. It was an extremely cold day and there were a few times when I asked myself "why I am I doing this when I could be relaxing in a warming hut and enjoying hot soup" -- Why not just quit? Well, the answer was quite simple -- what would I tell Chuck? "I quit?" What was worse: being a little cold and tired, or telling Chuck I gave up because I was uncomfortable? Well, Carol and I finished that race.

Start Eppies 2010And, both Carol and Chuck had a great influence in my introduction to Orienteering, the sport of map and compass, and I enjoyed the various events from which I was able to learn from both of them. In 1997, several of us, including Chuck, Rick Oliver, and Charles Locke, traveled to Minnesota to compete in the Veterans World Cup for Orienteering and we billeted at Camp Ripley, not far from the venues. And, this is pure Chuck -- each day after competition, we would all meet in the day room at the billets with our individual race maps and Chuck would take the time to review the routes we had chosen that day, share his knowledge and experience, and offer critique so that we might improve in the next event.

In our last team competition together a few years back, we were joined by another military friend, Paul Mackenzie, to form a master's division relay team for the run-cycle-paddle triathlon known as Eppie's Great Race. Chuck said the plan was to have fun but I knew he was there to compete as a paddler. You see, fun was for the other people and, after all, he had won this race as an individual Ironman in 1980 and set a course record in doing so. At the end of the day, Chuck made up a lot of time on the water and we finished very well thanks to him.

Allow me to close by saying that all of us here tonight know that Chuck loved sport, competition, new challenges, sharing his knowledge and experience, coaching, leading, instilling confidence -- all of those things, and more.

He seldom, if ever, spoke about himself or his world-class level accomplishments. I perceive that he was dedicated to his dear wife, Carol, anything having to do with the great out-of-doors, the military, and his Nation. God Bless, Chuck Lyda.


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