Richard Kapellas, 2nd Bde LRRP, K/75 Ranger, passed away April 13, 1978


2 July 1948 – 13 April 1978

Rick was born in San Francisco, CA on July 2, 1948 to George Coombs Brown and Inez Marie Davis Warren (1921-1989).  While never married, they had two children Rick and his sister Cheryl Ann Brown (1947-2010).  George and Inez met and fell in love during WWII in Papua, New Guinea where he, a Reserve Naval Officer and she being one of the first WAVs to serve overseas in the Pacific war.  At a time when most women had difficulty getting permission to leave the kitchen, this warrior lady earned a Bronze star for her service to the country.  Rick and his mother ended up in Anchorage, AK where she met George Gregory Kapellas (1922-1990).  Having finally found the lasting love of her life, they married on July 12, 1950 with George adopting Rick as his own.  They remained married until their passing.  As Rick’s brothers and sisters arrived, it was never revealed he was an adopted son, only that he was their Dad’s son.

Rick was grateful to have seven additional brothers and sisters: Marilyn M. Warren (1941-1942); Cheryl Ann Brown (1947-2010); Phillip Gregory Kapellas (1952-2002); Infant Sister Kapellas who died at birth (1956-1956); Robert James Kapellas (1957-2011); Therese Angel Kapellas (1961-1987) and Christopher Kapellas B 1959

When you wonder where Rick got his courage and fighting spirit, you need look no further than his mother.  In the 1950s, Inez, upon the family moving back to California, decided to run for political office – a seat on the Almeda, CA city council.  At this point in history, there were still many who thought women should not be able to vote.  A widely read CA newspaper ran an unflattering editorial which today would be called a “hack job”.  It alleged her children were delinquents and she couldn’t control her own family never-mind the city.  After a long legal battle, she won a financial settlement for intentional slander in a case that is still cited as Case Law in CA today.

Rick was drafted into the Army after graduation from Almeda High School.  He entered service on November 20, 1968 and after training, found his way to 2nd Bde. LRPs, 4th Infantry Division in Kontum, then as a Team leader in K Co., 75th Rangers.   He distinguished himself while a SP4 team leader while more senior and higher-ranking men were fortunate to be on his team.  Those who served with him considered him focused, competent and fearlessly courageous.  He once had his father, a hobbyist gunsmith, send him a .45 Automatic pistol in a “care package” mixed in with the cookie.  This would have to be one of the rare occasions where one would be proud to be called a “Mama’s Boy”.  Rick sustained a severe ankle injury in Viet Nam and was Med-Evac to the states where he recovered at the Presidio, in San Francisco. Rick was honorably discharged on July 1, 1970 having earned numerous awards and decorations including the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

Life after the military was not easy for Rick.  His ankle injury caused him to be disabled and in chronic pain for the remainder of his life.  He found adjustment to the mundane life of a civilian difficult, running afoul of the law on several occasions.  The excitement of his Ranger life was replaced with a motorcycle, drugs, booze and friends who shared that lifestyle.  It was under those conditions, while working as a “bouncer” in a “rough” bar in Berkley, CA, both the good and not-so-good Rick was exhibited.   Rick got involved in an incident where he was found responsible for fatally shooting a man.  While the details and circumstances were unclear, in April of 1973 there was a shoot-out at the bar.  While many men might have E & E the area, he stayed to render aid to a downed police officer on the scene of the shooting.  He radioed the police dispatcher, got an ambulance, provided first aid, and secured the scene.  Initially charged with murder, the district attorney allowed him to plead down to manslaughter based on Rick’s actions on the scene with the injured police officer.  Rick served his sentence in the state prison in Soledad, CA.

Not surprisingly, Rick’s life continued to spiral downward upon his release from prison.  When he died in 1978 it was the result of a high-speed car chase in Santa Clara, CA where he ran off the road, hit a telephone pole which snapped and fell back onto the car crushing him.  According to the police Rick had double crossed a drug gang keeping a larger share of the money, or stealing some amount of money.  The chase was them attempting to get him after he took the money.  Rick was in a coma a few days before the family came to grips with his loss and they agreed to turn off life support.

Rick never married although he was a lady’s man.  He had many women in love with him and his younger brother Chris can’t ever recall a time when some pretty young thing wasn’t on his arm.

Rick’s youngest brother Chris retired, in 2009, from the US Air Force after 26 years of honorable service.  He remembers his brother Rick with love and pride, as do we, his Ranger family.