Thomas Calabrese…. Richard ‘Rick’ Torrance Jr. was born and raised in San Marcos, California. His father, Richard Sr. bought the family home, a fixer upper on Carlo Street in 1990 and spent the next ten years renovating and upgrading the structure. Rick was the oldest of three children, his mother worked for the Vista Irrigation District and his father was an electrical contractor. Rick had twin sisters, Dana and Kelly that were four years younger than him and in junior high school. If you could choose only one description of the Torrance family, it would probably be middle class.
As a young boy, Rick began helping his father on electrical jobs and by the time that he was in high school, he was more knowledgeable than a journeyman electrician. His skills also extended to computer and cell phone repair and his friends and classmates often called upon him when they broke their electronic gadgets. Rick could decipher intricate schematics and detailed blueprints as easily as most people read the newspaper. There were only two decisions that Rick had to make concerning his career path as he entered his senior year at San Marcos High and that was whether to become an electrician like his father or attend college and study electrical engineering. He had narrowed his choices down to Stanford and University of California, San Diego.
Sergeant Kevin Ellis had been a Marine who lost both legs and sustained third degree burns over half of his body, including a badly scarred left side of his face when he stepped on an IED, improvised explosive device, while on patrol in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
The Marine in front of him was shot by a sniper and when Sergeant Ellis rushed to assist his fallen comrade, he stepped on the buried land mine. It was an act of selfless heroism.
Kevin Ellis was asked to speak to the senior class as a motivational speaker, “Life is full of problems and obstacles and what ultimately defines us is how we react to them. We are all going to make mistakes because we are human beings and fallibility is in our DNA. We will sometimes find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and while I was recovering and rehabilitating at Walter Reed hospital, I can’t tell you how many times I said to myself that if I stepped six inches to the left or right, that I would still have my legs. Over some long and painful months I had plenty of time for self-reflection, but once I was able to face the truth and accept the undeniable facts of my situation, I began making physical and emotional progress. Some of those facts were; I voluntarily joined the Marine Corps, nobody forced me and I was well aware of the risks. I wanted to serve my country and was honored to do so and I still have that sense of honor. Our military goes into harm’s way in other countries so that our families here on the homeland can stay safe. Where there is much to protect, there is also a great risk in doing so. ”
Rick was mesmerized by the words of this American patriot and wondered how could this man still feel honored after he had lost so much? There wasn’t a trace of bitterness in his voice and when Kevin Ellis finished speaking, you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. The young students were emotionally moved by the speech and after finally composing themselves, the senior class gave the disabled veteran a standing ovation. As they left in single file, Rick dropped out of the line and walked over to Kevin Ellis, “Thank you very much for your service.”
“Your welcome,” Kevin Ellis extended his badly scarred hand and Rick did not hesitate to extend his. Rick felt a true connection with the man.
Things weren’t that simple for Rick after that day, his decisions were not as clear cut as before and by the time he graduated three months later, he was really in a quandary. By a strange twist of fate, Rick crossed paths with Kevin Ellis again at the Carlsbad Mall. He was on his way to a movie at the Regal Cinema with a group of friends when he saw the veteran and two other men standing outside the Island Restaurant.
“You guys go on in, I’ll catch up,” Rick said, “There is somebody I want to say hello to.”
Rick walked over to Kevin Ellis, “I don’t if you remember me…I
“You were one of the students at San Marcos High School, Rick wasn’t it?”
“Yes sir, Rick Torrance. I’ve been thinking a lot about enlisting in the Marine Corps since your talk”
“That is not the usual the reaction I get, most people want nothing to do with the military after they’ve seen me.”
“I guess I’m not like most people,” Rick responded.
“”Whatever you decide, make sure it is exactly what you want. This is not one of those situations where you get a do over,” Kevin Ellis warned, “Discuss it with your family and follow your heart is the only advice I can give you.”
Two days later, Rick brought up the subject of enlisting in the Marine Corps up during a family dinner and caught everyone by surprise.
“I thought you had made up your mind, where did this come from?” his mom, Janice asked.
“I just feel that since I’ve been given such a good life,” Rick replied, “That maybe I should give something back.”
“That is very honorable, son” Richard said, “but there are other ways to give back besides military service, like having a good job and raising a family.”
“Why the Marines, isn’t there some other service that is safer?” Dana asked.
“Probably,” Rick responded.
“I heard the Air Force is really nice,” Kelly interjected.
“You’re probably right,” Rick agreed.
The main topic of conversation in the Torrance household over the next two months was Rick’s unwavering desire to enlist and he could not be dissuaded, so the family reluctantly decided to support his decision. After boot camp Rick was given the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 0621, Field Radio Operator and had two deployments to the Middle East where he was assigned to an infantry unit. It was during his second deployment that Rick decided to apply for EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) school when he was promoted to Corporal E-4, the minimum rank allowed for admission to the program.
Only the best were considered for the MOS of 2336 and Rick’s knowledge, qualifications and commitment made him an excellent candidate for one of the most stressful jobs in the military. One wrong move, one minor error and a technician could lose his life or a limb. The training was broken down into ten separate training divisions: CORE, Demolition, Tools and Methods, Biological and Chemical, Ground Ordnance, Air Ordnance, Improvised Explosive Devices, Nuclear Ordnance, WMD and Underwater and would take 143 intense academic days to complete.
Rick graduated at the top of his class and was sent back overseas. Most of the explosive devices that he came across were rudimentary in design and relatively easy to disarm.
The problem was that most of the Marines came across IED’s by mistake before Rick could do anything. On one particular day, a patrol inadvertently entered a minefield where one of the Marines stepped on an IED and heard a click so he kept completely still. Rick had just defused an unexploded bomb dropped during an air strike when he got the call, “We got a Marine who thinks he is standing on a mine. He’s twenty mikes (minutes) from your position, can you take it?”
“I’m on my way,” Rick replied.
On the way to the trapped Marine, Rick and his security team were ambushed and had to take cover until several helicopter gunships were able to neutralize the enemy combatants. The poor Marine became so fatigued standing motionless that he fainted from the stress and heat and when the first mine detonated, eight others followed in quick succession. By the time Sergeant Rick Torrance arrived with his team forty five minutes later, the last medivac helicopter was just taking off. This incident haunted Rick after he returned to Camp Pendleton and when his current enlistment contract expired, he decided to return to civilian life.
Six months later, Rick was working with his father on a residential job in Carlsbad, “Let’s take a break,” Richard Sr. called to his son who was running wires through the attic.”
The two men were sitting on the tailgate of their work truck and Rick was staring off into the distance, “Are you alright?” Richard Sr. asked.
“I’m fine, why? Aren’t I working fast enough?” Rick replied.
“It’s not your work that I’m worried about, it’s you.”
“Like I said, I’m fine.”
“I haven’t said anything before, but your mom and I want you to be happy and you haven’t been since you got out of the Marines,” Richard placed his hand on his son’s shoulder as a sign of support and love, “We’re here for you if you need us.”
“Thanks, I guess that I underestimated the transition time from military to civilian, but I’m getting there. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel and I’ll find it sooner or later…just give me a little more time.”
“Take all the time you need,” Richard answered.
Rick was having a restless night, one of many that he’s had since his separation from the Marines. Incidents from his past were jumbled up together and they all ended in massive explosion with Rick waking up in bed. This evening was different though and Rick got up and went into the garage and started working on an electrical generator. It was several hours later and the sun was just rising when his father entered and asked, “What are you doing?”
“I had an idea for something, “Rick shrugged.
“Come in for breakfast, I’d like to get an early stop so we can finish that job today,”
“Roger that,” Rick smiled.
For the next thirty days when he wasn’t working with his father, Rick was in the garage working on his invention. He had two things going for him; some kind of divine inspiration and unlimited energy to get it done.
Three weeks later, Rick was ready to test his invention. He placed the generator on the driveway and started it. He then plugged a small lamp into the outlet and the light came on. Rick stepped back ten feet and threw a hammer at it. The hammer fell five feet from the generator and there was a power urge that increased the brightness of the light. Rick threw several different items at the generator that failed to reach it, but caused a power surge.
Rick went inside and asked his father to come outside, “What’s up?” Richard Sr. asked.
“I need to show you something,” Rick replied then proceeded to repeat the test.
Richard Sr. just stood there speechless and finally spoke, “What did I just see?”
“Within the quantum field theory, the energy of a particle depends on its interaction with other particles. Everything that moves, lives or has any basic function can be divided into force or energy. Velocity implies a change in kinetic energy and force can change the internal energy of a system,” Rick explained
“Yeah, I have a vague knowledge of that principle, but this isn’t that, is it?”
“I expanded the perimeters a little bit and thought that if I could capture force and velocity and turn those into energy and re-direct it, I might have something,”
“Yeah, you would,” Richard Sr. smiled.
Over the next three months, Rick continued to experiment and found a way to retain the energy in lithium batteries and even got to the point where he could harness fire. The next test would be extremely important so Rick drove to an isolated area in the San Marcos hills and set up his equipment. He turned on the generator by remote control and stepped back twenty yards. Rick loaded his dad’s 30.06 rifle and fired four shots at the target. When he went to investigate, the bullets were lying on the ground outside the energy field.
Rick realized that he was going to need significant investment capital if he was going to take his invention to the next level. While in Afghanistan, he met Martin Reed, the founder of Red River Security when he cleared an access road for a group of military contractors to enter a small village. Their headquarters was in Lemon Grove so Rick called and set up a meeting with Reed.
“Are you looking for a job, Mr. Torrance?” Martin Reed smiled, “I definitely could use someone with your qualifications and experience.”
“I appreciate that, but I’m here because I’ve got a business proposition that you might be interested in,” Rick replied.
“When a man like you says he’s got something that I might be interested in, do you know what I do next?”
“Tell him to get the hell out,” Rick joked.
“I tell him to sit down and make himself at home and then I listen,” Martin Reed said.
Thirty minutes later, Martin Reed leaned back in his oversized chair, “Whoeeee, that is one hell of thing you got there.”
“Are you interested?” Rick asked.
“Does the Eagle fly? Does the flag wave?” Damn right I’m interested!”
“There is one stipulation that is non-negotiable,” Rick said without hesitation.
“What is that?” Martin Reed asked.
“A non-disclosure agreement.”
“No problem, I can see why you wouldn’t want people to know.”
To quote Thomas Edison, “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration,” but that was not the case with Rick Torrance. It seemed that every time he encountered an insurmountable problem that would have baffled even the most learned scientists, it only delayed him for a short period before he was able to come up with a solution. It was as if he was destined to complete his mission and even Rick was amazed by his ability to develop this futuristic invention that was far above his comprehension level.
The state of the art storage system of mini high powered lithium-ion batteries could hold five kilotons of energy (one kiloton equals 1000 tons of TNT). He inserted electrical filaments into a black comprehension suit, combat boots, hood and mask that would create an impenetrable electro-magnetic field around him. He built a wireless connection between the batteries and a laser ray weapon system that could redirect the energy. Rick had a wide range of settings and could crack an egg without breaking the yolk on the low side or penetrate six inches of solid steel or eight inches of reinforced concrete at its highest. The entire system was miniaturized and only weighed seventy five pounds and could fit in a backpack. To compare this invention in today’s world of technology would be like a cowboy in the 1800’s having an Apple iPhone X while everybody else only had access to the telegraph.
Once Rick field tested his equipment enough times that he felt comfortable using in a combat situation, he notified Martin Reed that he was ready to go overseas. His parents worried enough during his past deployments so he wasn’t going to put them through that again. He told them that he signed a contract to work part time for the Department of Defense instructing employees and security personnel on the basic principles of disarming explosive devices. It gave him a good excuse to be gone for weeks at a time.
Martin Reed negotiated several lucrative contracts with the American military to clear out several hotbeds of terrorist activity in countries around the world and the first test would be in Mogadishu, Somalia.
“If you do well here then it will open up a lot of doors. They were going send a team of Navy Seals, but I told African Command that we have the capability to take out the bad actors. Of course I didn’t elaborate on the details.”
“This is what I built this thing for, it’s not going to do any good sitting in my garage,” Rick smiled. “Let’s go.”
Rick told his family that he was going to be gone for a week or so, doing some training with the Marine Corps then caught a flight to Africa and when he got to Mogadishu, he was taken to the outskirts of the Boko Haram stronghold. Martin Reed gave him his final instruction, “We’ll pick you up on the other side,you got the coordinates, radio if you run into any problems.”
Rick double-checked his equipment, “Roger that, see you when I see you,” and began walking into the hellhole of terrorism. The sun came up, ten minutes later, making Rick a clear target for anyone in the area. Surprisingly, no one seemed to notice the masked man in black with the large backpack walking down the dirt road. Rick decided to get pro-active so he yelled out, “AMERICAN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD…COME OUT AND PLAY.”
In a few minutes armed fighters began pouring out of the dilapidated buildings and once they saw the stranger on their protected terrain, they opened fire with automatic weapons and machine guns. The bullets could not penetrate the electro-magnetic field and fell harmlessly to the ground.
“I need a better test than that,” Rick called out.
When the terrorists saw that Rick was still standing, they remotely detonated an IED under him, but the explosion had no detrimental effect, in fact the technology captured the force of the explosion. Rick found out what he needed then unleashed his laser weapons on his assailants, killing or seriously wounding everyone in the area and destroying their sanctuary.
After this unqualified success, the Department of Defense could not wait to hire Red River Security for various missions from Mali to the Philippines. Rick became the tip of the spear and his actions saved thousands of American lives and instilled a sense of fear in terrorists around the world. Once the word spread that there was someone who could not be killed and was able to go anywhere, their allegiance to their cause quickly waivered. For those that were too stubborn to run or accept the inevitable, Rick was more than willing to give them a final resting place and while he could not stop all the evildoers in the world, he was committed to stopping as many as he could.
Martin Reed suggested that a significant part of the profits earned by Rick’s actions and the use of his invention should go to various veterans’ organizations. Kevin Ellis was one of the recipients of these large donations and expanded his program to include scholarships, training programs, counseling and therapy dogs for veterans. This last donation of one million dollars would allow him to create a support structure for families as well.
Rick was home in San Marcos and was in-between missions when his father asked him if he wanted to attend a pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Veterans Resource Center in Oceanside being given by the American Legion.
“Sounds like a good cause,” Rick replied, “Count me in.”
While sitting at a table in the dining room with his father, Kevin Ellis recognized Rick and walked over, “Rick Torrance! How many years has it been, eight, nine?
“Closer to ten,” Rick replied with a big friendly smile then introduced the disabled veteran to his father, “Dad, this is Kevin Ellis, he spoke at my high school when I was a senior. I owe him a lot for making me think about very important issues.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Ellis,” Richard Sr. said then added, “Thank you for your service.”
“Did you ever join the military?” Kevin asked.
“I did, I joined the Corps,” Rick said simply.
“I thought you might, what was your MOS?” Kevin inquired.
“I started off as a radio operator then transferred to EOD when I picked up rank.”
“See much action?” Kevin asked.
“Some,” Rick was trying to be evasive.
“I assume from the length of your hair that you’re no longer in the Corps, what are you doing now?”
“Not much,” Rick replied. “My dad is in construction so I help him out once in a while. I also give some seminars every now and then on bomb detection and diffusing.”
“Not much, once in a while and every now and then? “Kevin placed his hand on Rick’s shoulder and smiled knowingly. “I’ve been around a lot of veterans over the years and I know all the catch phrases. I can tell you one thing for sure, none of those statements fit the kind of man that you are. Enjoy your breakfast.”
After Kevin Ellis walked off, Richard Sr. turned to his son with pride in his eyes, “For a guy who hasn’t seen you in ten years, he seems to know you pretty well.”
“Eat your pancakes Dad, before they get cold.”
As Rick was leaving, Kevin came up behind him and whispered in his ear, “Thank you.”