Rear Admiral Richard E. Bennis was born in Syracuse, New York. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Resource Development. Rear Admiral Bennis attended Harvard University where he received his Masters Degree in 1983 in Energy and Environmental Policy.
Rear Admiral Bennis received his commission from Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in June, 1972. His tours of duty include: Port Operations at Marine Safety Office Jacksonville; Assistant Chief of Military Personnel First Coast Guard District; Department Head at Marine Inspection Office Houston; Chief, Program Development Branch Office of Port Safety, Security and Environmental Protection Coast Guard Headquarters; Marine Safety Assignment Officer, Office of Personnel Coast Guard Headquarters; Executive Officer, Marine Safety Office Tampa; and Commanding Officer Marine Safety Office Charleston. He served as the Chief of the Office of Response, Coast Guard Headquarters where he served as Captain of the Port of Hampton Roads and Commanding Officer of Marine Safety Office Hampton Roads.
Rear Admiral Bennis’ final assignment was Captain of the Port and Commander Activities New York, the largest operational field command in the Coast Guard. In that capacity he led the maritime operations during OPSAIL 2000 and the Coast Guard response to the attack on the World Trade Center.
His decorations include four Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medals, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal and numerous unit and service awards.
Rear Admiral Bennis was married to the former Gloria Smith of Rhode Island.
Rear Admiral Bennis retired from the Coast Guard in March, 2002. He crossed the bar on 3 August 2003. He was survived by his wife, three grown children and one grandchild.
For then-CAPT Bennis' actions in helping avert what could have been a disaster in the Port of Charleston South Carolina in 1992, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. RADM Bennis was later honored in October 2008 when a section of Charleston harbor was re-named "Bennis Reach.” He has the distinction of being the only person in the United States that has a reach named for them.
RADM Bennis was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.