Eugene James Carroll, Jr.
Rear Admiral, United States Navy
March 3, 2003
Eugene J. Carroll Jr., a retired Rear Admiral of the Navy who became an outspoken expert witness for opponents of nuclear weapons, high military budgets and new armaments, died on February 19, 2003, in Washington. He was 79.
The cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Margaret. He lived in Alexandria, Virginia.
As Deputy Director of the Center for Defense Information, a research and lobbying organization, after he retired from the Navy in 1980, he criticized missile defense as counterproductive, the military budget as uncontrollable and the stockpiling of nuclear weapons as ludicrous.
In speeches to peace organizations, at academic conferences and before Congressional committees, he often used dramatic language and personal criticism, upbraiding President Bush as having "sat out the Vietnam War" and saying that the Reagan administration's calling the MX missile a peacekeeper was "like calling the guillotine a headache remedy."
When President Ronald Reagan went to Moscow in June 1988 to reduce tension in meetings with Soviet leaders, Admiral Carroll pointed out the apparent contradiction that the president was followed by a military officer carrying a case with the codes to authorize a nuclear attack.
Recently, Admiral Carroll was a vocal critic of a possible war with Iraq, saying an invasion was doomed to a disaster comparable to that of the Bay of Pigs.
Eugene James Carroll Jr. was born in Miami,
Arizona, on December 2, 1923. When he was 6 months old, his family moved
to Long Beach, California, and later to East
He joined the Navy in 1945 and flew Skyraider dive bombers from an aircraft carrier during the Korean War, eventually commanding two Skyraider attack squadrons. In the Vietnam War, he commanded an amphibious assault ship and the aircraft carrier Midway.
He was later the first naval officer to serve as director of American military forces in Europe, where he was responsible for 7,000 nuclear weapons. He came to the conclusion that the weapons could never defend Europe, and was troubled when the United States wanted to augment them with neutron bombs, Pershing II missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles.
"It is from these up close and personal experiences that I came to understand that nuclear weapons are truly unusable, worthless for any rational military purpose," he wrote in an article in The Turtle River Press, a newspaper devoted to spiritual concerns.
Margaret Carroll said she could not remember exactly when or why her husband decided the military was drifting in directions that he considered wrongheaded and dangerous. She mentioned his uneasiness about carrying a bomb in his airplane that could kill 600,000 people in a Soviet city that was not particularly important as a military target, an example he used in many speeches.
His final assignment was as a planner of military policy and operations in the Pentagon. He helped devise complex scenarios for conventional or nuclear warfare.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by
his son, Dennis, of Alexandria.
Admiral Carroll served for 35 years in the Navy and joined the Center for Defense Information in Washington for 20 further years. The Admiral dedicated both careers to protecting America and the cause of peace.
Services will be held at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 17. Services will be followed directly by interment with Full Military Honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Friends and relatives will gather to remember Admiral Carroll at Spates Community Club, also at Fort Myer from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., following interment.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Admiral
Eugene Carroll Memorial Fund, Center for Defense Information, 1779 Massachusetts
Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Before retiring in 1980, Admiral Carroll served 35 years in the Navy, including duty as an aviator during the Korean War, six years' service with units involved in the war in Vietnam and command of the aircraft carrier striking force of the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.
After his Navy retirement, Admiral Carroll was Vice President of the nonprofit Center for Defense Information in Washington. He did research and analysis on a variety of defense issues, gave lectures and wrote newspaper and magazine articles on military and defense programs. It was in that capacity that he became known in the media for his opposition to nuclear weapons.
In 1996, he was one of 62 generals and admirals from 17 nations to sign a public statement calling for nuclear abolition.
"We have been presented with a challenge of the highest possible historic importance: the creation of a nuclear-weapons free world. The end of the Cold War makes it possible -- the dangers of proliferation, terrorism and a new nuclear arms race render it necessary," the statement said.
Admiral Carroll, a resident of Alexandria, was born in Miami, Arizona. He was a graduate of George Washington University, where he also received a master's degree in international relations. He began his Navy career in 1945. For 10 months during the Korean War, he flew Skyraiders aircraft from the decks of carriers off the coast of Korea. During the war in Vietnam, he commanded an amphibious assault ship and the aircraft carrier Midway.
Later he was director of military operations for all U.S. forces in Europe. His last Navy assignment was at the Pentagon as deputy chief of naval operations for plans, policy and operations. This included Navy planning for conventional and nuclear warfare.
In his final years in the Navy, Admiral Carroll became increasingly troubled by his perception that a nuclear weapons drift had become, in fact, a nuclear weapons rush. "I just felt we weren't going to the right places or doing the right things," he told The Washington Post in 1981.
After a brief stint as a defense contracting analyst, he began working with the Center for Defense Information, where he drew on his military experiences to buttress his arguments for nuclear disarmament, which he made in forums such as academic conferences and local gatherings of peace activists.
In an article titled "The Case for Nuclear Abolition," published in the January/February edition of Turtle River Press, Admiral Carroll wrote, "During the horrible confrontation with the Soviet Union we called the Cold War, I frequently stood nuclear alert watch on aircraft carriers. For a period of time my assigned target was an industrial complex and transportation hub in a major city in Eastern Europe. . . . My bomb alone would have resulted in the death of an estimated 600,000 human beings. Multiply that by 40 or 50 times and you can understand what two carriers alone would have done. . . . Later I served as director of military operations for all U.S. forces in Europe. There I was urging NATO to add neutron bombs, Pershing II missiles and ground launched cruise missiles to the European arsenal. It is from these up close and personal experiences that I came to understand that nuclear weapons are truly unusable, worthless for any rational military purpose. . . . Fought with nuclear weapons, the war destroys whatever the objective might have been."
Admiral Carroll's avocations included growing vegetables, and his garden generally produced a surplus of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers that he brought to work with him at the Center for Defense Information on Massachusetts Avenue NW for distribution among his colleagues.
Survivors include his wife, Margaret S. Carroll,
and a son, Dennis S. Carroll, both of Alexandria; and two grandchildren.