America has lost a courageous leader and patriot. Admiral James Aloysius “Ace” Lyons, Jr, U.S. Navy (retired). passed away in Warrenton, VA on 12 December 2018 at the age of 91. Born in New Jersey to James A. and Marion F. Lyons, he entered the United States Naval Academy in June 1948 from the Naval Reserve and graduated with the Class of 1952. He served as a Surface Warfare Officer until his retirement as a four-star admiral and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet on 1 October 1987.
His early years of naval service were with surface combatants where he developed an extraordinary understanding of naval warfare that carried him through a brilliant career. It was also when he met and married Renee Wilcox Chevalier of Washington, DC, in 1954, who was the love of his life for 64 years.
His early sea assignments included the Sixth Fleet flagship USS Salem (CA 139) and USS Miller (DD 535). Later sea assignments included command of the destroyer USS Charles S. Sperry (DD 967) and guided missile cruiser USS Richmond K. Turner (DLG 20). Intermixed were staff assignments in the Pentagon with the Chief of Naval Operations and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which played a major role in developing the outstanding strategic knowledge that characterized his Navy career. A principal advisor on significant Joint Chiefs of Staff matters , he was key in the development of the Navy Red Cell, an anti-terrorism group comprised of Navy Seals established in response to the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. He was a graduate of both the Naval War College and the National War College and his shore assignments included wide and significant experience in strategic planning and national security affairs.
In July 1981, upon being promoted to the grade of vice admiral, he took command of the U. S. Second Fleet, where he directed and conducted maritime operations throughout the Atlantic. Admiral Lyons showed his bold, aggressive naval strategies during the Cold War with the Soviet Union without firing a shot. He assumed command of the U. S. Pacific Fleet in September 1985 upon his promotion to admiral. It was during this time that he led three Pacific Fleet ships on the first U. S. Navy ship visit to the People’s Republic of China in 37 years. Also during this tour he sent the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19), a converted oil tanker, on her inaugural mission to provide humanitarian aide to the Philippines and the South Pacific. He continued his active involvement in Project Hope and other humanitarian organization in the United States and overseas after retirement from the Navy.
Admiral Lyons’ Navy awards include two Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Navy Expeditionary Medal (Cuba), Humanitarian Service and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon), the French Legion D’Honneur and the Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit.
In August 1987, Admiral Lyons retired from the Navy after 36 years of service and began an equally impressive career as President/CEO of LION Associates, LLC, a premier global consulting company providing National Security advice. He was Chairman of the Center for Security Policy’s Military Committee and the senior member of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi. He served on the Advisory Board to the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and was a consultant to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on issues of counterterrorism. He recently received an IMPACT Award, which honors unsung Leaders Defending Liberty and specifically his profound impact on this country’s liberty and freedom. His actions were driven by a profound desire to do what was right for our country and civilization.
Admiral Lyons will always be remembered as a loving husband and devoted father. He viewed the family unit as a foundation stone in American culture. Not only was family life important to him, but he also loved spending time with his many family dogs, boating and playing golf in record time!
Admiral Lyons’ beloved wife, Renee, predeceased him by 42 days. He is survived by his two daughters, Michele Lyons and Yvonne Slingluff; his son James Lyons III; and three grandchildren: Max Slingluff, Zoe Renee Slingluff and James A. Lyons, IV.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be directed to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at www.nmcrs.org.
A funeral service will be held at the United States Naval Academy Chapel, Annapolis, Md on 11 January at 11:00 a.m., followed by interment at the Naval Academy Cemetery.
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