San Diego, California, USA
Rear Admiral, Commander, USS Carl Vinson carrier group
5/17/1995, Taos, New Mexico, USA
I’d like to take the opportunity to honor my father, RADM James G. Prout III, who was the first naval flag officer to lose his life in the line of duty since WWII, when his F/A-18 crashed on 17 May 1995 in the mountains north of Taos, New Mexico.
My father graduated from Exeter in 1961 and US Naval Academy in 1966, and operated with a SEAL team in Operation Gamewarden on the Nha Tran river until he took shrapnel from an RPG, and was re-deployed to surface line after his recovery. He commanded the USS Fearless, served as chief engineer of USS Steinacher, XO of USS Oldendorf, CO of USS Obrien, Chief of Staff CINCPACFLT, CO COMCRUDESGRU7, and CO COMCRUDESGRU 3 – his dream job in command of the Carl Vinson battle group. He also served as military assistant to SECDEF and CO OP-06 at the Pentagon. He received his Master’s degree in International Relations from Harvard University in 1983. He was distinguished as the first flag officer from the USNA class of ’66, and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Citation.
On a more personal note, he didn’t operate long with the SEALs, but he never gave up the physical exercise regimen and personal discipline of being a teams guy. To the night before he was killed, he ran 10 miles a day and worked out daily as well. At 53 the man was still a rock, still tougher than nails, and able to humble anyone who stood up to him – and that was usually before he threw in the “oh by the way, I’m a two star admiral” line. He always inspired me to do my best by his example and he was by far my biggest supporter and encourager; he wasn’t perfect, but he was a helluva dad, a passionate leader, and the most impressive naval officer I’ve yet to meet, future career of certain current SEALs notwithstanding. He loved the Navy, loved his country, loved his family, and loved to serve. It’s due to his example that I’m planning to commission in the USN upon commencement from my Master’s degree program. He taught me the meaning of self discipline, service, responsibility, honor, duty, and integrity – and he taught me how to be a dad to my own children, who will unfortunately never have the chance to know their grand-dad like I knew him.
Hoo-yah, dad. Slainte to you and all who serve on sea, air and land.