[Marxism] Gene La Rocque, Decorated Veteran Who Condemned Waste of War, Dies at 98
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Sat Nov 5 10:38:01 MDT 2016
NY Times, Nov. 5 2016
Gene La Rocque, Decorated Veteran Who Condemned Waste of War, Dies at 98
By ANITA GATES
Gene La Rocque, pictured in 1982, when he was a retired rear admiral,
spoke out on military issues well into his 90s. Credit Baltimore Sun
Rear Adm. Gene La Rocque, a decorated Navy veteran who spoke out against
the wastes of war, was labeled a traitor by some and went on to found
the Center for Defense Information, a private think tank that was
described as both pro-peace and pro-military, died on Monday in
Washington. He was 98.
His death was confirmed by his son John.
Admiral La Rocque attracted particular attention when he gave an
interview to Studs Terkel for his 1984 book, “The Good War: An Oral
History of World War Two.”
“I hate it when they say, ‘He gave his life for his country,’ ” Admiral
La Rocque told Mr. Terkel. “Nobody gives their life for anything. We
steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them.
“They don’t die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them.”
In the same conversation, Admiral La Rocque described the State
Department as having become “the lackey of the Pentagon” and lamented
the loss of civilian control.
After retiring from the Navy in the early 1970s, he founded the Center
for Defense Information with Rear Adm. Eugene Carroll (who died in
2003). The new organization, positioned as an informed second opinion to
the Pentagon, began with three primary goals: to avert a nuclear war
with the Soviet Union, to end the Vietnam War and to monitor the
influence of the military-industrial complex.
As the center’s director, Admiral La Rocque continued his battle long
after the first two goals had been achieved. In 1990 he was calling for
the nation’s military budget to be reduced by one-third, to $200
billion, and troop strength to be reduced from three million to two
million. And he was working to take the profit out of weapons
manufacture, although he doubted that the military would ever produce
its own weapons again.
Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense under President
Ronald Reagan, met Admiral La Rocque when Mr. Korb was asked to brief
him for a debate in 1972. Admiral La Rocque and his new organization
“understood what the issues were,” Mr. Korb, now a senior fellow at the
Center for American Progress in Washington, said in an interview Friday.
“You need this submarine, and not this one. He presented reasonable
alternatives that people would consider.”
“This was a career military officer, which made him stand out,” Mr. Korb
Eugene Robert La Rocque was born on June 29, 1918, in Kankakee, Ill.,
the third of five children of Edward La Rocque, who ran and lived above
a furniture store during the Depression, and the former Lucille Eddy.
One of Gene’s first jobs, at the age of 12 or so, was delivering
newspapers. But he was fired, his daughter, Annette La Rocque
Fitzsimmons, said on Friday, when the publisher, a Republican, learned
that the boy’s father was a local Democratic committeeman.
As Admiral La Rocque recounted the story, that day his mother told him
he could marry anyone he liked when he grew up, as long as she wasn’t a
Gene enlisted in the Navy in 1940. “In the summer of ’41, I asked to be
sent to Pearl Harbor,” he told Mr. Terkel. “The Pacific fleet was there,
and it sounded romantic.”
The request was granted, and the young sailor escaped harm in the
Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941. He and the rest of the crew of the
destroyer Macdonough were sent in pursuit of the Japanese fleet.
He spent four years in the Pacific, participated in more than a dozen
battles, was awarded the Bronze Star and was the first man ashore in the
landing at Roi-Namur in the Battle of Kwajalein (1944), part of the
Marshall Islands campaign.
Admiral La Rocque was widowed twice. He met Sarah Madeline Fox (not a
Republican) during the war, when she was a stewardess on a flight from
Seattle to Anchorage. They married in April 1945 and had three children.
She died in 1978. The following year, he married Lillian Danchik. They
were together until her death in 1994.
In addition to his son John and his daughter, his survivors include
another son, James; two stepsons, Howard Danchik and Roger Danchik; six
grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
In 2012 the C.D.I. merged with the Project on Government Oversight,
which continues to publish The Defense Monitor, the organization’s
quarterly newsletter. Recent headlines have included “The Fight to Save
the A-10 Warthog,” “F-35 May Never Be Ready for Combat” and “Pentagon’s
2017 Budget Was Mardi Gras for Defense Contractors.”
Admiral La Rocque contributed a note to The Defense Monitor as recently
as last year, expressing concern that the influence of the
military-industrial complex was still “growing in power,” more than half
a century after President Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned of it.
In continuing to be heard on defense issues well into his 90s, Admiral
La Rocque had plainly abandoned a plan he had outlined for himself in
1990, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, when he was 71.
“I’ll give it to about 75,” he said then. “That’s time enough to bring
in more young people. Then I’ll give it up and go sailing.”
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