Last week our speaker was retired US Naval officer, Captain Richard “Dick” Life, who now resides in Estes Park.  His talk was entitled “Cold War Interaction with the Soviet Military”.  His professional life spanned several decades working as a US Naval Intelligence Officer observing and gathering information on the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
His interest in intelligence began  in 1961 when he had lunch with a military attache’ while enrolled in the US Naval Academy.  His first exposure to “intelligence gathering” occurred when he encountered Soviet submarines while a US submarine officer at sea in 1961.  Two years later he was gathering intelligence in the Gulf of Tonkin.  In 1972 he started extensive training in the Russian language and “all things” Soviet.  By 1972 there had been enough naval “incidents”  between the US and the  Soviet Union that a delegation from Russia was sent to Washington resulting in the US-Soviet “ Incidents at Sea Agreement”.
Captain Life became a favorite escort for this Soviet delegation which provided us with several fascinating personal vignettes both in the US and  in Russia when Dick was assigned to the US Embassy in Moscow as a military attache’ (1974-76). Apparently he was liked and respected by several high ranking Soviet Naval officers allowing for his continued education and very personal experiences.
In the US he escorted Soviet Admirals and others to the US Naval Academy where they expressed amazement at our computers and nuclear reactor. He also escorted Soviet officials to Disneyland and Cape Canaveral where they saw the prototype NASA shuttle for the first time.  In Moscow the Russians were astounded that he had adopted a Korean girl since orphans in that country stayed in orphanages.  Dick later taught espionage including his impersonation of a Russian defector; then met the famous defector, Nicholas Chadrin, who was later killed by the KGB.  Along the way, Captain Life  met unhappy Soviet guards with AK47s , Soyez astronauts and even “Red Sparrows”.
After the fall of the Soviet Union he worked to debrief defectors and emigres.