Eugene Blair "Butch" Conrad
Colonel, United States Army
a contemporary press report:
In 1939, pictures and stories about Eugene "Butch" Conrad were plastered across he front pages of local sports sections. A Charlotte, Borth Carolina, native, he had made good as a star tackle for what is now North Carolina State University. A somber headline followed some years later during World War II: "Captain Conrad on Bataan When Last Heard From." Then came a relieved one:"Major Conrad In Hospital After Being Freed From Japanese Prison."
Eugene Blair Conrad of Daleville, Alabama formerly of Charlotte, died Sunday, September 6, 1992, at home of lung cancer. He was 75.
Colonel Conrad commanded an Infantry unit in the Pacific Theater until he was captured during the fall of Bataan in 1942. As a prisoner of war, he took part in the infamous Bataan Death March.
"The things that were done to my father and the other men were unspeakable," says daughter Robin Conrad Lane.
During his captivity, Colonel Conrad had 22 bouts of malaria and a case of double pneumonia.
"Many men stronger than my father would close their eyes and just not wake up. They gave in to the mental anguish because they had lost personal faith in themselves or whatever higher being they believed in," said son John Conrad. "My father said he survived because he prayed for strength, wisdom and courage."
After the war, Colonel Conrad decided to make the military his career. As a director of the Army Aviation Board for Aviation Accident Research during the Vietnam War, he reduced helicopter accidents by 75 percent and received the national James H. McClellan Aviation Safety Award. In 1972, he retired from the Army as a Col and received the Legion of Merit, the Army's second highest medal for achievement.
After retiring, he started his own business as an aviation safety and accident prevention consultant until 1986. "He was a man whose presence commanded respect, not because he was big and strong and self-assured," said John Conrad. "He had compassion and the command to lead other people. You don't see that combination in people very often."
Colonel Conrad will be buried today in Arlington National Cemetery. Full military honors will be observed at the graveside.
His decorations included the Silver Star; the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster; the Bronze Star with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters; the Air Medal; the Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters; the Purple Heart; the Vietnamese Honor Medal; the Cross of Gallantry with Palm; and numerous campaign ribbons.
He graduated from the University of Omaha with a degree in education. He earned his master's degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1974.
Survivors are his wife, Wanda, of Daleville;
sons, Eugene Conrad Jr. of Huntsville, Ala, Robert Conrad of Lancaster,
Pa., John Conrad of Dallas; daughters, Ms. Rebecca Richie, Ms. Agatha King,
both of Birmingham, Ala., Ms. Robin Lane; sister, Ms. Thelma Rudisill of
Richmond; 16 grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Hospice, P.O. Drawer
2127, Dothan, Ala. 36302; or to Bridlewood Chapel, PO Box 501, Ozark, Ala.
Posted: 26 August 2000 Updated: 18 November 2000 Updated: 22 February 2003 Updated: 11 June 2006