Riley, who has worked in the sheriff’s office for 29 years, was the keynote speaker during the sixth annual Veterans Appreciation Lunch held Thursday morning. The event was sponsored by several local companies, including the Journal-News, and organized by Hospice Care of Middletown.
Riley’s address seemed to connect with many of the veterans in the audience, who were seen nodding their heads as he talked about three life lessons he learned in the U.S. Army, 24th Infantry Division, during Desert Storm and Desert Shield
He enlisted in the Army the day after his 17th birthday because it was something he “wanted and needed to do,” he said.
Plus, he wanted to get out of Lebanon.
After his military service, Riley said with a laugh he realized Lebanon was “not so bad.”
He said the three lessons he learned in the military that he continues to use in law enforcement are: trust, love of country, and faith in God.
In the military, he said, soldiers will fight themselves, but they never disrespect their fellow soldiers.
“You lay your life on the line because of trust,” said Riley, who added in law enforcement “trust is everything.”
The love of the U.S. is “personal to me,” Riley said. “Our freedoms are unlike anything else in the world. That flag means everything.”
In 1990, 33 years ago, Riley was presented a small Bible by a fellow soldier. He has carried it every day since.
“It became a trusted friend,” Riley said holding the Bible.
While each branch of the U.S. military has its own traditions, Riley said each one is connected with the same three letters G-O-D.
“Soldiers often pray” to stop the pain, for food, cold water, hot coffee and sleep, he said.