Eugene J. Carroll Jr., 79, a Navy rear admiral who in retirement became an aggressive and vocal advocate of global nuclear disarmament, died Feb. 19 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after a heart attack.
Before retiring in 1980, Adm. 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, Adm. 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.
Adm. Carroll, a resident of Alexandria, was born in Miami, Ariz. 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, Adm. 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, Adm. 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."
Adm. 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.