Carlson Merrill LeGrand – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

One way or another, Carlson M. LeGrand knew he would have to postpone plans for law school to serve his country during the Vietnam War.

So instead of waiting to be drafted, he joined the Navy. The decision put him on course for a military career that saw him rise to Rear Admiral and deputy judge advocate general.

Admiral LeGrand, who formerly studied and practiced law in San Diego, died Saturday at Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. He was 59. The cause of death was a heart attack, said his wife, Christine Heffern LeGrand.

Two years ago, Admiral LeGrand overcame prostate cancer after undergoing surgery. He had shown no signs of heart problems during a recent physical examination but complained of chest pains after a bicycle ride with a friend, his wife said.

In 1998, a year after retiring from the Navy, Admiral LeGrand was appointed Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice in San Diego.

He left the position five years later to be attorney adviser to the Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, D.C. He enjoyed living in Montclair, Virginia, and had planned to continue working for another five or six years before retiring, his wife said.

From 1997 until 2003, Admiral LeGrand served as a legal and military technical consultant for the television series “JAG.” The show, which had been canceled after one season on NBC, was picked up by CBS. It enjoyed a 10-year run before its cancellation this year.

Carlson M. “Biff” LeGrand was born April 24, 1946, in Hollywood. He grew up in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills and graduated from Fairfax High School.

In 1967, after graduating cum laude with a bachelor of science degree at the University of Southern California, he enlisted in the Navy.

Admiral LeGrand was commissioned as an ensign and assigned to the fleet oiler Hassayampa. As a gunnery officer, navigator and operations officer, he served off the coast of South Vietnam in support of naval combat operations.

Upon his release from active duty in 1971, Admiral LeGrand went on reserve status and earned his law degree at California Western School of Law in San Diego. He lived in University City and  practiced law in San Diego for three years before being called to active duty in the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Admiral LeGrand went on to serve in Guam and Maryland before earning a master of law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1983.

In 1986, he was assigned to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as force judge advocate for the Pacific submarine fleet.

His performance in Hawaii, which involved prosecuting national security cases, resulted in a Legion of Merit with two gold stars. His decorations included a Meritorious Service Medal with a gold star and a Navy Achievement Medal.

In 1992, Admiral LeGrand assumed command of the Naval Legal Service Office Southwest in San Diego and made his home in Rancho San Diego. Promoted in 1994 to deputy judge advocate general, he was placed in charge of the Naval Legal Service Command.

His first civilian job after retiring from the Navy was general counsel for the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center in San Diego. After one year, he became deputy attorney general for the state Department of Justice.

Survivors include his wife of 38 years, Christine Heffern LeGrand; daughter, Navy Lt. j.g.Courtney Hillson of Virginia Beach, Va.; son, Matthew LeGrand of Montclair, Va.; sisters, Jeanine LeGrand of Los Angeles and Susie Parker of Ukiah; and brother, Paul LeGrand of Los Angeles.

Services are pending at Arlington National Cemetery.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/24/1946
  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/16/2005

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