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U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Charles Clinton Lyda

World Champion, Olympian, Soldier

Chuck was a two-time Olympian (1976, 1980) and a two-time World Champion (1975, 1977) in the sport of Canoe/Kayak. In 1978, he was the winner of NBC's reality series, "The Fittest of Them All," a grueling athletic competition hosted by Bruce Jenner. Chuck was on 28 National Teams, Winter (Biathlon) and Summer (Canoe & Kayak).

He competed in Biathlon at the World Cup level before becoming the head coach for the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) Biathlon Team in 1995.
Lyda was selected as a member of the U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team coaching staff after winning four of his athletes positions in the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano, Japan. He coached through the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Chuck was a dedicated soldier serving with the California Army National Guard, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He acted as Readiness Branch Chief at the Joint Forces HQ in Sacramento where he was tasked with deploying soldiers to Iraq.

In May 2006, he was sent to Iraq for one year with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While in Tikrit, he was responsible for the identification and capture of a wanted Third Country National (TCN). Chuck was preparing for a 2nd tour of duty in Iraq when his illness descended on him. His superiors have said that
he would surely have earned the rank of General if he had joined the Army ten years earlier.

Chuck Lyda Articles

Los Angeles Times, 1977 - Alan Greenberg
He's a Jack of All Sports and Master of a Few, Too

San Diego Union, 1987 - Karen Frawley
Kayaker Lyda Addicted to Olympic Experience

7/9/2010 - Sierra Sun Newspaper, Truckee, CA

Article Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System
Master Sergeant David Eckert Does Half-Ironman
in Iraq for Re-enlistment

9/19/2011 - Chuck continues to inspire excellence

Artwork in the Family
Chuck's relatives are a creative bunch. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Charles A. Wilimovsky, a famous painter in the first half of the 20th Century.
Mr. Wilimovsky's works are represented at the Louvre and the Smithsonian. Chuck's father, brother and niece are also accomplished artists. [See more]

Chuck Lyda Memorial Fund
Chuck was the Nordic Director for the Auburn Ski Club Training Center for many years.
On October 31, 2010, the first annual Chuck Lyda Memorial Biathlon raised over $1,500 to establish a scholarship fund for Junior Biathletes. To donate to this important scholarship, please send checks to Auburn Ski Club Education Foundation and note that your donation is for the Chuck Lyda Memorial Fund.

LtCol Charles Lyda
Military Career, January 1983 - June 2010
Chuck enlisted in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 132nd Engineer Battalion, on 18 January 1983 as a Private Second Class. He attended Basic and Advanced Individual Training from September to December of 1983 and was awarded MOS
12B10, Combat Engineer. Private Lyda was advanced to Private First Class in March of 1984, and promoted to Specialist Five (SP5) on 2 August 1984. Specialist Five Lyda was Honorably Discharged on 25 October 1984 and appointed as a Second Lieutenant on 26 October 1984. In February of 1985, Second Lieutenant Lyda was transferred to Detachment 1, Company A (-), 132nd Engineer Battalion as a Platoon Leader. On 29 January 1988 he was promoted to First Lieutenant. In November of 1992, First Lieutenant Lyda was transferred to Company C (-), 132nd Engineer Battalion, and in December of 1992 he was promoted to Captain. In April of 1997, Captain Lyda was transferred to the Headquarters Company, 132nd Engineer Battalion, and in April of 2001 he was promoted to Major. On 1 July 2001, Major Lyda was reassigned to the Camp Roberts Maneuver Center and served as Engineer Officer. Major Lyda served as the Force Integration Readiness Officer for the JFHQ from 25 April 2005 to 11 May 2006.

On 11 May 2006, Major Lyda was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In May of 2007, Major Lyda was released from active duty and assigned as the JFHQ Mobilization and Readiness Branch Chief. On 24 January 2008, Major Lyda was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Lieutenant Colonel Lyda's awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation (4th Award), Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/M Device, National Defense Service Medal w/Bronze Star, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, and California Drill Attendance Ribbon (5th Award).

Lieutenant Colonel Lyda was an Olympian competitor who visited many countries, including England, France, Switzerland, Greece, Mexico, Denmark, Yugoslavia and Germany from 1969 to 1982. He served as Head Coach and Assistant Officer in Charge for the Army's World Class Athlete Program Biathlon Team from 1995 to 2002.

Whitewater Chuck
Art by Chuck's Father, Lu Lyda

July 23, 1952
Charles Clinton Lyda is born in San Diego, California

July 1975
Wins a gold medal in the C-2 mixed event with Marietta Gilman at the 1975
ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships
Skopje, Yugoslavia

July 29, 1976
Competes as a sprint canoer in the men's C-2 1000 meters event with Andy Toro at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games
Montréal, Canada

July 1977
Wins another gold medal in the C-2 mixed event with Marietta Gilman at the 1977 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships
Spittal, Austria

October 1978
Wins "The Fittest of Them All, " NBC's reality TV athletic competition

U.S. National Champion (Wildwater) C-1

July 1980
Qualifies in K-2 sprint for the 1980 Summer Olympics but is unable to compete because of the Olympics boycott

U.S. National Champion (Wildwater) C-1

January 18, 1983
Chuck enlists in the Army 132nd Engineer Battalion
California Army National Guard, Sacramento, CA

October 26, 1984
Chuck promoted to Second Lieutenant

July 1986
Chuck and his team wins Eppie's Great Race
Along the American River, Sacramento, CA

Chuck named first Nordic Director for Auburn Ski Club Training Center
Donner Summit, Soda Springs, CA

U.S. National Champion (Wildwater) C-2 with Dan Schnurrenberger


U.S. National Champion (Wildwater) C-2 with John Pinyerd

February 1998

Head Coach, U.S. Biathlon Team, XVIII Olympic Winter Games
Nagano, Japan

April, 2001
Chuck promoted to Major

November 1995 to 2002

Appointed as Head Coach and Assistant Officer in Charge of the Army's World Class Athlete Program Biathlon Team

February 2002

Head Coach, U.S. Biathlon Team, XIX Olympic Winter Games
Salt Lake City, Utah

May 11, 2006
Mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom; returns home in May 2007
Baghdad & Tikrit, Iraq

January 24, 2008
Major Lyda promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

June 12, 2010
Chuck passes away from complications of gastric cancer
Folsom, CA

July 10, 2010 - Saturday
Memorial Service - A Celebration of Chuck Lyda's Life
Aquatic Center, Lake Natoma, Rancho Cordova, CA

July 17, 2010 - Saturday
Eppie's Great Race 37 - Dedicated to the Life of Chuck Lyda
Along the American River, Sacramento, CA

October 2010
Kayak Monument dedicated to Chuck Lyda, Nathan Krissoff,
and other lost river runners

Along the Truckee River, Reno, Nevada

October 8, 2010
- Friday
Arlington Funeral with Full Military Honors
Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, DC

September 24, 2011 - Saturday
Chuck Lyda Memorial Summer Biathlon
Auburn Ski Club Training Center, Donner Summit, Soda Springs, CA

August 23-27, 2012
USBA Summer Biathlon National Championships
Auburn Ski Club, Donner Summit, Soda Springs, CA

At Donner Lake in Truckee, California, near Lake Tahoe
Carol Lyda, Max Gordon, Ed Gordon, Charles Albright & Chuck
(click image to see full size)

At Donner Lake
Email from Edward Gordon, November 30, 2011

Grady - My name is Ed Gordon. I'm not sure we met at Chuck's ceremony, but I live around the corner from Chuck and Carol. It's a small world, and I also race wildwater C-1, and "inherited" Charlie Albright as a C-2 slalom partner. I avoided seeing Chuck in the hospital since he did not want to be seen at less than his best. These photos are the final memory I prefer to have of him. They were taken just a few months before he was diagnosed, and are of Chuck, Carol, Charlie, me and my son, Max. At Chuck's invitation, we took Max on a high speed OC-4 tour of Donner Lake, and I think the combination of a beautiful fall day, paddlers driving an outrigger forward through crystal clear water, and a child's excitement at being out on the lake make a nice tribute to Chuck... Ed

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

"Team, I was just informed by COL Bodner that Chuck Lyda has passed away this evening. Chuck has been battling cancer for a number of months and his suffering has ended. Please take a moment and give thanks to whatever higher spirit you believe in and ask that he keeps Chuck and his wife Carol in loving arms."
Brigadier General (Retired) Louis J. Antonetti, 6/12/2010
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.

Chief PetersonAddress Presented by
Chief Warrant Officer
Brian L. Peterson

Read the full text here

Chuck wasn't quite the oldest of us, but he was definitely in the top ten. You couldn't have told it by his approach to the training, though - he gave every task his full energy, and he was able to match or outdo even the youngest members of the team. COL Bob Spano, who served the unit as Chief of Staff, discovered his secret.

He remembers going to Chuck's room at the end of the training day to coordinate something, and finding a quiet, darkened room with only the fan blowing. Chuck's roommates said, "Ssshhh, he's sleeping."

So staff call had to wait, and we all had to tiptoe past his room while he finished his afternoon power naps.

Colonel HermanRemarks by
Colonel (Retired)
Michael L. Herman

Read the full text here

"The equipment isn't what wins the race" - Chuck Lyda

When we pulled into an eddy for an upstream gate, I said to Chuck that I thought we should just quit. We were doing so badly I saw no purpose in continuing the race.

Chuck slammed his paddle on the front deck and screamed that quitting was not an option. He did not say this as a suggestion or as an encouragement, but as a statement of determined fact.

I have never forgotten this incident. In the brief few seconds it took Chuck to blast out his opinion, I learned a lot about what motivates him: he could tolerate losing, but not quitting.

Remembrance by Friend and Teammate
John Hefti

Read the full text here

I told Chuck I couldn’t do it, I was just too exhausted. It was then that Chuck's military leadership potential became clear. In a calm but decisive manner, he let me know I really had no choice.

He was going to drag me up there if he had to, to make sure I did not blow this decisive moment in my life.

Remembrance by Friend and Teammate
Sue Norman

Read the full text here

At Disneyland, Chuck and his team of expert paddlers commandeered one of Frontierland's Explorer Canoes and furiously raced around Tom Sawyer's Island several times. The attraction's guides could only sit back, stunned and unwilling to interfere...

Once, while paddling in Newport Beach, he came near a big boat that was cruising the harbor. Because kayaks were so unusual in the area at that time, the owner of the boat called to Chuck and invited him to come aboard, which he did.

The boat was the "Wild Goose," and the owner was legendary movie star John Wayne. The Duke gave Chuck a t-shirt with his boat's logo and name on it.

Biography by Friend and Teammate
Charles Albright

Read the full text here

Chuck and Carol
"In prosperity, our friends know us; In adversity, we know our friends" - John Churton Collins

Continental DivideCarol-Chuck in the RockiesDouble-Rainbow
Chuck and his wife Carol Schick-Lyda, together for the last twenty years, biked through the Rockies in 2009, and while riding around Lake Tahoe in the summer, they caught this double rainbow.

Carol showed tremendous strength and courage when Chuck became ill. She never left his side and fought with him every step of the way. Chuck's mother, sister, and brother will be forever grateful that he had chosen a partner who was every bit as tough and perseverant as he was. When life becomes most challenging, that is when we learn someone's true character.

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