On this date in 1965, the Orange County district attorney’s office charged Larry Doyle Lyons, 20, and John Warren Hilliard, 18, of conspiracy to prevent Alan M. Lennot, 17, from going to combat duty in Viet Nam. Lennot, a paratrooper stationed at Ft. MacArthur, was scheduled to go to Viet Nam on April 21st.
Seal Beach police office Philip Bettencourt responded to a call reporting that two men were trying to murder a third man at the west end of Ocean Avenue. When Bettencourt arrived on the scene, the three men were in a car. The third man was unconscious, and the other two were trying to remove his boot.
The initial story was that the unconscious man was very drunk and injured his foot stumbling over a rock, but the story changed later when they were questioned further at the police station.
The new story was that Lennot did not want to go to Viet Nam, and Lyons and Hilliard decided to help him. They considered shooting him in the leg, but instead choose to give him whiskey and a sleeping pill and then drop a fifty pound rock on his ankle. They insisted to Bettencourt that they acted out of friendship for the victim.
Lennot remain unconscious throughout the ordeal and was taken by ambulance to Ft. MacArthur and then transferred Camp Pendleton. Lyons and Hilliard were later released from Orange County Jail on $1,100 bail each with a hearing set for April 27.
Both Lyons and Hilliard have passed on, and I can find no trace of Alan M. Lennot beyond this story to confirm whether or not he went to Viet Nam or if he returned to live a fruitful life. There’s also some blunt doubt as to whether Philip Bettencourt was a police officer or a worker for the Seal Beach city administration, and I have a couple lines out to verify his position and see if more can be added to this story.
It’s possible that the original Long Beach Independent story was written by the city desk based on notes or a call from a field reporter, and that there were assumptions and errors made in name spellings and job positions. I’ll update if I get more information.
– Michael Dobkins
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