Conrad Edward LaGueux
Captain, United States Army
LaGueux was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in May 21, 1922 and attended
the University of Rhode Island, raduating with a degree in chemical engineering
in 1943. While attending URI he participated in the Army R.O.T.C.
program, receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant Lieutenant at graduation.
Lieutenant LaGueux was ordered to active duty on 15 May 1943 and assigned to the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. After graduation he was immediately assigned to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in Washington and assigned to a “station outside the continental limits of the United States” according to his orders.
Lieuenant LaGueux arrived in Casablanca, French Morocco, on November 28, 1943. During January and February 1944 he was assigned to the 2677th Headquarters Company Experimental (Provisional), later to be known as the 2677th Regiment, OSS. While in France, he completed the airborne qualification course.
In August and September of 1944 then Lieutenant LaGueux parachuted with his small army team into southern France where his team’s mission was to harass and attach German forces. He was awarded a bronze arrowhead for his EAME Campaign Medal for airborne operations in southern France in August 1944. While in France he worked with the Maquis (French Resistance) in the area of south France known as Tarn. Later in the war he worked in China training commandos.
Following release from active duty in 1946 Conrad LaGueux worked for American Cyanamid for three year prior to joining the Central Intelligence Agency in 1949. He went on to serve with the agency’s Far East Division until retiring in 1977. Over the years he served as station chief in such posts as Taiwan, Burma and spent much of his later CIA career in Cambodia and Vietnam doing work that led to his receiving two awards of the Intelligence Medal of Merit. His first award was for his actions in March of 1975 when he made a hazardous personal reconnaissance of the heavy fighting between North and South Vietnamese military forces that ended in North Vietnamese victory.
Captain LaGueux was credited with obtaining the first authoritative intelligence on the extent of the military deterioration. He then planned and led the evacuation of key Vietnamese leaders, an operation the citation to his award said was “executed with thoroughness and sophistication."
After retiring from the CIA he served on the
executive committee of the Heritage Foundation president’s club.
Conrad LaGueux, 79, a retired Central Intelligence Agency operations officer who had made his career in the Far East and who had served behind enemy lines with the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, died of leukemia June 26, 2001, at Arlington Hospital. He lived in Arlington, Virginia.
Mr. LaGueux, who was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was a chemistry graduate of the University of Rhode Island. During World War II, he served in both the Army, attaining the rank of captain, and in the OSS. He parachuted first into southwestern France, where he worked with the Maquis, and later into China, where he trained commandos. After the war, he worked for American Cyanimid before joining the CIA in 1949, two years after the agency was founded.
He went on to serve with the agency's Far East Division until retiring in 1977. Over the years, he served as CIA station chief in such posts as Taiwan and Burma. He spent much of his career in Cambodia and Vietnam doing work that led to his receiving two awards of the Intelligence Medal of Merit.
Mr. LaGueux received the first award for his
actions in March 1975, when he made a hazardous personal reconnaissance
of the heavy fighting between North and South Vietnamese military forces
that ended in North Vietnamese victory. Mr. LaGueux
He then planned and led the evacuation of key Vietnamese leaders, an operation the citation to his award said was "executed with thoroughness and sophistication." The citation went on to praise Mr. LaGueux's "high degree of judgment and initiative."
After retiring from the agency, he served on the executive committee of the Heritage Foundation president's club. He was a member of St. Ann's Catholic Church in Arlington. His hobbies included furniture making and world travel.
One of his retirement trips was featured in a 1983 news release issued by the office of then-Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.). Shuster reported that while he was on congressional business in France, he discovered the story of 15 OSS agents, including Mr. LaGueux, who in August 1944 had parachuted behind enemy lines to link up with the Resistance to liberate towns and destroy German supplies and patrols.
By November, the region was under Resistance control and the surviving agents were ordered elsewhere. In Mr. LaGueux's case, it was to China, where he finished the war, again behind the lines, training and serving with commandos.
By 1983, the French of those mountain villages had managed to track down, with the aid of the State Department and veterans groups, those men that remained of their American wartime comrades.
Shuster reported that with funds collected at schools and churches, the French summoned the Americans back to France, where they were treated to a series of parades, banquets and award ceremonies in thanks for their wartime service.
His marriage to Damaris LaGueux ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Norma,
of Arlington; three daughters from his first marriage, Claudia Shainman
of Bethesda, Dee Booth of Redwood City, Calif., and Anne Johns of Gaithersburg;
a brother; two sisters; and three grandchildren.
On Tuesday, June 26, 2001 at Arlington
Hospital due to complications from leukemia. He is survived by his wife,
Norma G. LaGuex; former wife, Damaris Smith LaGuex; father, Edward LaGuex;
mother, Claudia Lea Benoit. Visitation will be held on Friday, June 29,
from 4 to 6 p.m. with service following at the ARLINGTON FUNERAL HOME,
3901 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA. Interment will be held at a later date
at Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium.