A Battle Fought Together

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By Cpl. Megan Roses| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | March 11, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. —
“I was shocked. I had no side effects. I had just taken a physical fitness test and passed with flying colors,” explained Richard Riley, a Police Officer with Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton.

Riley moved from London, England to Miami, when he was in high school. After graduating, he attended Palm Beach University. He realized a couple of years into college that he wanted to do something else in life.

In 1990, Riley’s younger brother enlisted in the U.S. Navy. This action sparked Riley’s interest where he too enlisted and served 20 years. Throughout his service to the DoD, Riley inspired many with his passion for helping people. His desire to help and guide, led to making lasting friendships. Master Chief Billy Smith, Command Master Chief for Navy Recruiting District in Miami, said, “You are my best friend; you are one of three people I can look to for advice.”

After retiring from the Navy, Riley became a civilian police officer for MCB Camp Pendleton where he has worked now for five years.

Officer Daniel Vasquez, an accident investigator with MCB Camp Pendleton, said with a smile, “He is a hard worker. If I needed help or someone else needed help, he would be the first one to assist. He always worked with a smile on his face.”

On April 6, 2018, Riley and his wife, Terri, took off work to attend his baseline colonoscopy appointment. Life was great, and all seemed well according to Terri. The two planned to enjoy lunch together after his doctor’s visit.

Terri and her husband were in complete shock when the doctor came out to say that he had a tumor and that it was cancerous.

“It was a huge shock, [being told] you have Stage 4 colon cancer,” explained Riley.

Riley, even with such a disheartening diagnosis, continued to work until May 2018 and underwent colon surgery in the hope of removing some of the cancer. After exhausting a majority of his convalescent leave, fellow officers stepped up selflessly and began to donate their leave without hesitation. The amount of leave donated lasted more than half a year and gave Riley the time needed to recover and continue treatment. “My brothers and sisters have been phenomenal. I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Riley.

The outpouring of care Riley received was tremendous. Not only did officers donate leave, but everyone chipped in with moral and emotional support as well. People he had served with even flew from all over the globe to visit in his time of need. Col Stephen Keane, commanding officer of Security and Emergency Services Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton, and his wife, also make a point to check in on him and his family.

Through this challenging time, Riley smiles and has an optimistic mindset. The support and love shown to him by his wife, Sailors, Marines and police officers have given him the strength to keep fighting. Holding back the tears in his eyes, Riley stated,” I would love to thank everyone that supported my wife and I. My colleagues are amazing. Thank you for the support, and lifting my family and me. I will never forget it.”

Officer Riley knows well that his fight is not his to fight alone, but together.

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