The Naval Institute notes with deep sadness the passing of Admiral Carlisle Trost on 29 September 2020 and recalls with respect and greatest admiration his professional career, sense of integrity, graciousness, and distinguished character.
Admiral Trost served as the 23rd Chief of Naval Operations from June 1986 until June 1990 as the Cold War was ending and new regional conflicts were on the rise. He had been studying in Germany when the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, and was CNO in 1989 when the Wall came down.
Born in Valmeyer, Illinois, on 24 April 1930, Admiral Trost graduated first in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1953. He entered submarine training and graduated from Submarine School, again first in his class. During his career, he would serve in diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines, as executive officer of two submarines, the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) and the USS Van Steuben (SSBN-632), and as commanding officer of USS Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635).
In August 1970, he reported as executive assistant and naval aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy, and later Secretary of the Navy, John W. Warner. In March 1973, his selection for flag rank was approved by the President, and that June he assumed command of Submarine Flotilla One. He served in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and as Director, Systems Analysis Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
In 1978, he was promoted to vice admiral and reported as Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Vice Admiral Trost assumed command of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, serving from 1980-1981. His next assignment was Director, Naval Program Planning in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations. In October 1985 he was promoted to the rank of four-star admiral and served as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and Deputy Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command.
The Iran-Iraq war was being waged during his years as CNO. In May 1987, USS Stark ((FFG-31) was hit by two Iraqi Exocet missiles while patrolling off the Saudi Arabian coast in the Persian Gulf. From July 1987 through September 1988, the U.S. Navy, in Operation Earnest Will, was running a major convoy operation in the Gulf out through the Strait of Hormuz protecting reflagged, Kuwaiti-owned tankers from Iranian attack.
In his Naval Institute Oral History, published in 2018, Admiral Trost recalled:
“I remember that we used battleships off Iran when they threatened to close the straits. They put this installation in on the Iranian side that had the capability of running missile launchers out from a cave, and they could threaten . . . 12 or so miles out. But they were in battleship range. We deployed a battleship and an Aegis cruiser over there. The Iranians were warned that if they ran their missiles out, the battleship would be sitting out there off the coast, close in, in international waters. It would engage any Iranian ship or missile that was out there.”
Admiral Trost was married to the former Pauline Haley of Cottage City, Maryland, from 1954 until her death in 2015. Their four children are Carl Michael, Laura Lee, Steven Glenn, and Kathleen Susan. He was a Golden Life Member of the Naval Institute and a frequent contributor to Proceedings.
In this excerpt from his oral history, Admiral Carlisle A. H. Trost discusses his relationship with Admiral Paul A. Yost Jr. while Trost served as Chief of Naval Operations and Yost as Commandant of the Coast Guard.