Richard (Rick) Diaz, 83 , passed away at his home in Lompoc CA on October 6, 2013. Rick was born in Santa Barbara, CA July 11, 1930. The son of the late Anita Valenzuela Diaz and Walter Cordero. Survivors include his Daughter Carol A. Kirkland (Dwight Kirkland), Grandson Shane Kirkland (Karlie Kirkland), John Milligan, Granddaughters Jade Kirkland, Christina Milligan-Barke, Great Grandchildren Kade and Layne Kirkland, Pia Kirkland-Young, Victoria Porter, Azaylah Diaz, Braden Milligan, Companion Monique Cullen. He was preceded in death by wife Pia Carolyn Diaz in 1998, son Richard Diaz Jr. in 2009, Infant Grandson Tony Diaz in 1978, many brothers and sisters from a family of 14 and his new found Cordero family. Richard attended grammar school in Nipomo and high school in Arroyo Grande, CA. He taught himself to hunt at a very young age to bring food home to his large family. He worked as a farmhand in his younger years operating farm equipment at Tres Lomas Ranch in Nipomo. He enlisted in the Army when he was only 17 graduating Leadership School top 10 of his class. He then went to Jump School at Ft. Benning, Georgia earning his Jump Wings and Glider Wings. A Paratrooper with the 12th infantry regiment 4th division 82nd Airborne., he joined the Air Force. He met the love of his life Pia in 1953 in Reno, NV while stationed at Stead AFB. They were married on Jan 22, 1954. Ricky was born and they were stationed in Japan. Carol was born as they moved their new family to Beale AFB and on to VAFB in 1962. Serving a tour of Vietnam in 1969 he then moved his family to Lompoc. He retired from the AF in 1970 after 21 years of service. He retired from FCI as a Correctional Officer/Counselor in 1980. Rick, was an avid outdoorsman and sports enthusiast. Family time at Vandenberg was spent deer hunting, fishing, China Peak ATC rides and picnics to fish, 4 wheeling in his Broncos, clamming at Pismo, lobster fishing at the Boat House. He had a gift of poetry and loved sharing and writing poems for his family. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, badminton (winning many tournaments and trophies). When his grandchildren were born he became known as Papa. Papa passed on his talents and “love of the great outdoors” to his Grandson Shane. He and Pia loved to RV travel and fish on the Sacramento River. They loved to spend time with friends and family. When his wife Pia passed away in 1998 he lost the love of his life and never quite got over that. His fishing partner for life was gone. He had the opportunity to renew his relationship with his son Ricky 4 years ago. It broke his heart that it ended all too soon. The new “light” in his life was when his Great Grandchildren were born. He would stop by on Fridays to see them. He then met a beautiful woman at church who won his heart and he had the privilege of “young love” once again in life. At the age of 75, he had a DNA test and discovered his blood father was the late Walter G. Cordero of Santa Barbara. The Cordero’s ancestors came to California in 1769 with the Soldados de Cuero, a unit of soldiers who helped escort Father Junipero Serra from Spain to America. He was taken in by the Cordero family as kin and now had a new family to share his life with. He soon found out his brother Maj. William E. Cordero was also in the Air Force but died in combat in Vietnam in 1965. At this point in his life he finally felt complete. His love and his life was his entire family. He was a member of American Legion Post 211, Loyal Order of Moose 1036, BPOE Lompoc Elks Lodge 2274, Veterans of Foreign War Post 1717, Vietnam Vets Assn, Boots and Chutes Airborne Assn, Retired Enlisted Assn, National Assn of Uniformed Services, American Assn of Retired Persons, Federal Prison Retirees Assn. Richard was very proud to have founded the first “Welcome Them Home” Program in Lompoc, CA. He also held the position of Chaplain for funerals for Boots and Chutes Airbone. Special Recognition and Awards were the Bronze Star, the Vietnam Combat Ribbon, his Jump & Glider Wings, and Airman of the Month. Funeral Service will take place at La Purisima Catholic Church Friday, October 11, 2013 at 10 am followed by graveside services with Military Honors and 21 gun salute. Celebration of Life will be held at Elks Lodge 2274.
Friends may make donations to Lung Cancer Alliance, P.O. Box 418372, Boston, MA 02241-8372