Carl, Laura Lee, Steve, Kathleen … other members of the Trost family … Admiral Roughead … distinguished guests … dear friends. On behalf of all Sailors and Navy civilians serving today … as well as the thousands more that have gone before us … we give thanks for your beloved father … shipmate … and dear friend, Carl Trost.
The Bible calls us all to live generously … to search and seek wisdom … to love and serve others. We are here today to remember a man who lived faithfully to those ideals. A man of principle. A man of dedication … to his family … to his friends and shipmates … to the Navy … and to the American people. Though I did not have the good fortune of knowing Admiral Trost well … I do know that perception was reality. He was a bold, courageous, and intrepid naval officer ... a pioneer of nuclear power … but also a gentleman … known for his kindness, his piercing intellect, and love of learning. For the Admiral … much of his reality was perception. For years, he patrolled the lonely frontier thousands of miles from home … submerged on an undersea chessboard … silently hunting Soviet submarines … and providing America a steady shield of protection from nuclear attack. He was guided by his senses … his intuition … and his instincts.
The Book of Wisdom says … “By his counsel he stilled the great deep … and planted islands in it. Those who sail the sea tell of its dangers … and we marvel at what we hear. For in it are strange and marvelous works … all kinds of living things … and huge creatures of the sea. Because of him … his messenger finds the way … and by his word all things hold together.” Admiral Trost’s memory gives us much to be thankful for … to marvel at indeed … and much to live up to.
He was born in Valmeyer … and raised in Columbia, Illinois … at the height of the Depression and the end of the Prohibition. The town itself lay between flat, fertile lands to the east … and the Mississippi River Valley to the west. He spent his formative years working on farms … especially his Uncle’s and his Grandparents’. Those were the days of farming with horses and mules … pulling and sacking potatoes by hand … gardening and canning food. All of it tough work. Folks rose at the rooster’s crow … and went to bed with the setting of the sun. There was no electricity for most of his childhood. He and his sister, Mardelle … read beneath kerosene lanterns. It was a predominantly German community … so they learned the English and German dialects.
His parents’ believed in honesty, generosity, and hard work. The family attended church every Sunday … and rarely missed a Service. His dad could fix anything … so naturally Carl learned how to work with his hands. They overhauled cars. They did mechanical work. They fixed farm machinery. They could weld. He was a Boy Scout and liked to play baseball and softball … he explored the countryside … and he enjoyed the family’s battery-powered radio. Adventure stories were his favorite ... “The Shadow,” “Captain Midnight,” and the “Lone Ranger.”
The community mantra was simple … “when you needed something done … you did it.” After the Second World War … as a teenager … he helped his dad build their new home. He excelled academically … and wanted to go to college. Since his hometown high school was not state accredited … he attended a community school five miles away in Dupo. To cover the tuition expenses … he worked after school every single day as a letter carrier.
After a year at Washington University on an Army R-O-T-C Scholarship … he earned an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Much to his surprise … the Academy was located in “Annapolis” … and not “Indianapolis” as he had previously believed. The Iron Curtain descended over Eastern Europe … and after Plebe Summer … the Soviet Union conducted their first nuclear test. He continued his love of exploration at the Naval Academy … this time on sail boats on the Severn. He was elected Vice President from his youngster year onward … and together with his President and classmate, Ross Perot … they guided the Class of 1953. He graduated first in his class … served as Brigade Commander … helped shape our Academy’s Honor Concept ... and met the love of his life, Pauline.
Like most Sailors, he spent much of his 37 years of service far from home. After a short tour on the destroyer, Robert Owens … he was selected to join the submarine force … and graduated first in his class from sub school in New London. He first sailed on the diesel boat, Sirago … earned his dolphins … and learned from the Chiefs and Sailors who served at the tail end of World War II. He applied for nuclear power … and his interview with Admiral Rickover lasted only a minute and a half. There were no math or physics questions for him. Rickover stared him dead in the eyes and asked: "Carl, Why didn't you do better at the Naval Academy?" (Laughter). Later that night … Carl told Pauline he did not think they were going to take him.
Of course, he received orders to Power School … he attended prototype in Idaho Falls … and joined the elite cadre of nuclear hunter-killers and the “41 for Freedom" force. Carl loved being at sea and leading Sailors on top secret missions … on Swordfish, on Scorpion, Von Steuben, and in Command of Sam Rayburn. Pauline and Carl were so proud of the Silent Service … and they cared so deeply for our Sailors and their families. The Cold War was a conflict that never resulted in battle … because of those submariners … who volunteered to go into harm’s way … beneath the waves and under the ice. Their missions today remain undisclosed … but their contributions endure. He was one of the first naval officers on an Olmstead scholarship … and studied at the University of Freiburg in Germany as the Berlin Wall was just going up.
He talked of the immense privilege of command, which took him across America and to 7th Fleet in Japan … where Pauline and Carl developed a love of the region … and a deep respect for the culture of the Japanese people. They would carry that appreciation into their later years … their home in Annapolis was adorned with Asian memorabilia … because, as we know, Pauline was a world-class shopper. (Laughter) He loved to teach and mentor ... and that didn’t stop in the Beltway. He was an exacting boss ... always five steps ahead ... but immensely grateful for every contribution … and always thoughtful about how he impacted his Sailors and their families. As a newly-pinned flag officer at BUPERS during the 1970s gas crisis ... he strolled out onto Columbia Pike every day at 1600 and caught the car pool … to everyone’s surprise. Admiral Trost brought this humility with him everywhere.
As CNO … he oversaw a force of over 600,000 Sailors and nearly 600 ships. He confronted growing tensions in the Middle East … and he deftly guided the Navy during the Tanker Wars in the Arabian Gulf. I admire how he handled the Iowa, Stark, Samuel B. Roberts, and Vincennes tragedies with conviction and compassion. Never once did he compromise his own ideals for political expediency ... and always did what he thought was best for the Navy. He was consistent inside and out. He set such an example for me, indeed, all of us.
Beyond that, he believed that this Navy, this nation, and this world … should be a better place for the next generation. To all of this he devoted himself. That is why … in addition to all the other efforts he made toward strengthening America’s naval power … he went to the Soviet Union himself to reduce tensions between the two nations … and met with his counterpart, who happened to be another submariner.
By the end of Admiral Trost’s term … the Berlin Wall had crumbled … and the United States was prepared to lead a multinational force into the first Gulf War … just months after his departure from office. His love for our Navy extended well beyond his time in uniform. He served as Chairman of the Olmsted Foundation and Naval Academy Alumni Association … to ensure our future officers are well educated for the challenges ahead. He helped Pauline launch the Fisher House Foundation to help the families of our ill and injured service members benefit to this day. To date … her vision has helped 400,000 military families over the last 30 years. He gave so much of himself for us … but he could not have done it without Pauline … his loving partner for 60 years! Their love was extraordinary to watch … and their partnership left all of us in a better place.
To the Sailors of our great Navy … remember Carlisle Trost. Remember his fighting spirit and stout heart. Honor his memory by being ready … so that Americans may enjoy the prosperity and security he helped provide. To the Trost family ... please know how grateful we are to have known him. We will never forget his lessons of humility … grace ... and service ... as well as his love for family … and pride in his grandchildren. What a gift he was ... we are all so lucky to have him in our lives to show us the way. God Bless you Admiral. Thank you.
Adm. Mike Gilday
20 September 2021
21 September 2021
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