Meet Larry Reyes, part Apache and one of Santa Clarita’s most patriotic Veterans who served 20 years in the US Navy and continues serving America through his activism and enduring passion for our great country.
Larry was born August 8, 1962 in Glendale Memorial Hospital and grew up in Sun Valley, California graduating from John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in 1980. His father, an 82nd Airborne Army Veteran, passed away at age 52 during Larry’s senior year which traumatized the Reyes family. Realizing that he instantly lost his pillar of support and aspiring to pursue success, he visited a Navy recruiting office and promptly joined via their delayed entry program. On February 10, 1981, Larry departed to San Diego for boot camp. He qualified for Radioman “A” School, an eight week course that he believed would send him aboard one of the Navy’s finest vessels.
But no, he was assigned to Midway Island, AKA: “Gooney Island”, a tiny speck in the North Pacific Ocean where he spent 12 months. Midway is home to over 800,000 Gooney Birds (Albatross). While at Midway, Larry explored its numerous war relics learning about the brutality there during WWII that turned the war’s tide. This further strengthened Larry’s deep sense of patriotism.
After Midway, Larry was back to San Diego assigned to a 224 man crew aboard the USS Downes (Fast Frigate) designed for anti-submarine warfare. Finally he felt like he truly was in the US Navy. The USS Downes took Larry all over the Pacific stopping in at Hawaii, Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. After serving on this ship, his numerous radioman assignments took him to Mount Moffatt at Adak Island in the Aleutians and finally to his favorite ship, The USS England (CG-22), a guided missile cruiser. The USS England served in every major Pacific engagement from Vietnam to Desert Storm, from rescuing pilots, performing as plane guard, to showing force around the globe. The ship’s motto: “There will always be an England”, which was derived from the original USS England that sunk six enemy submarines within 12 days during WWII.
Invasion of Kuwait
Larry, on radio duty, received messages that Kuwait was invaded on August 2, 1990 by Iraqi forces. Larry felt exhilarated just knowing that his ship would be fully engaged. As the leading Naval Warship, The USS England assumed primary shipping interdiction and air defense roles in the Persian Gulf when Saddam Hussein’s troops invaded Kuwait while forces mobilized to support Operation Desert Shield. As it turned out, the USS England had little involvement. General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded an international army of 750,000, comprising of 500,000 U.S. troops and 250,000 troops from other nations, as well as thousands of battle tanks, combat aircraft and six carrier battle groups, overwhelmed Saddam’s forces in an amazing 100 hour war. The USS England was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for actions performed August 2nd to August 16, 1990.
After Desert Storm, Larry’s ship returned to San Diego where the city put on a huge parade for him and his fellow sailors. But to these fine patriots, they felt it was undeserved as their thoughts turned to the harsh treatment Vietnam Veterans received coming back home during their War. This bothered Larry.
Larry went on to serve as instructor at “Service Combat School” at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California for 3 years and then to Korea for 3 years. After 20 years, Larry retired from the US Navy May 8, 2001. At a high school reunion, Larry met his former neighbor and sweetheart Connie Branca, a girl he knew since kindergarten. It was love at first sight. Incidentally, Connie was born the day after Larry at the same Glendale hospital. They married on September 22, 2007 at Point Dune in Malibu and they moved to Santa Clarita.
For some time, Larry felt patriotism in America was declining and when he saw an advertisement for the movie, “The Butler”, starring Jane Fonda portraying Nancy Reagan, he was inspired to take action. He recalled she supported Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War and photos of her sitting in an anti-aircraft gun battery. One that likely shot down our aircraft. Larry promptly set up a Facebook page, “Boycott Hanoi Jane Playing Nancy Reagan” which became very popular, especially among Veterans.
Prior to “The Butler” showing, Larry received a call from the “Hollywood Reporter” who stated Jane Fonda told him to “tell this Veteran to get a life.” Larry’s response, “I will never respect Hanoi Jane.” When “The Butler” played at a Canyon Country theater, Larry rallied several dozen citizens to boycott the movie. Soon, Larry was on National TV interviewed by Fox & Friends and Megyn Kelly sending his Facebook likes from 900 to over 50,000. Later on, Larry spotted two men waving American Flags on Soledad Canyon Road so he retrieved his flag and joined them. Passing motorists honked and waved, people brought them water and donuts and Larry began to realize patriotism was alive and well in Santa Clarita.
However, Larry became incensed over the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent police shootings, so he organized a hugely successful rally at SCV Sheriff’s Station several weeks ago to show support for law enforcement. He was applauded by our deputies and our community; again Larry felt rejuvenated.
These days, Larry works at US Health Works in Valencia and he enjoys outings with his wife, four children and six grandchildren. Larry is a proud Veteran and he proudly flies his USA Flag 24/7. He worries deeply about the direction our country is headed, but he has faith that America will soon regain its exceptional World status.
Bill Reynolds is one of the “Boys of ’67,” Charlie Company, 4th/47th, 9th Infantry Division and is the director of Veterans Affairs for The Signal.