Captain Conrad E. LaGueux was a native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island and a 1938 graduate of St. Raphael Academy. Conrad entered the University of Rhode Island in the fall of that year. While attending URI, he enrolled in the Army ROTC program. In 1943, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.
Second Lieutenant LaGueux was ordered to active duty on 15 May 1943 and assigned for training to the Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. After graduation, he was immediately assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington and further assigned to a “station outside the continental limits of the United States,” according to his orders. Second Lieutenant 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 of 1944, Lieutenant LaGueux parachuted into southwestern France with his small team of Army Commandos in what was to be known later as code-named “Operation Group Pat.” His team’s mission was to harass and attack occupying German forces. Lieutenant LaGueux was awarded a bronze arrowhead for his European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. A bronze arrowhead is worn on the ribbon to indicate participation in a combat parachute jump. While in France, he fought with the French Resistance in the area of south France known as Tarn. Later, he served in China, where he finished the war, again behind enemy lines, training and fighting with commandos.
Following release from active duty in 1946, Conrad LaGueux worked for American Cyanamid for three years prior to joining the Central Intelligence Agency 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 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 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. Conrad 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. In 1983, members of the French resistance managed to track down the surviving members of the 12-man commando unit led by Captain LaGueux and invited them back to France for a reunion. Money was collected from schools and churches to treat the Americans to parades, banquets and award ceremonies in appreciation of their wartime service.
Captain LaGueux is a true American hero. He pioneered the formation of both the OSS and the CIA. His heroic career is testament to his personal courage and selfless service to our nation. His accomplishments reflect great credit to himself, his family and the University of Rhode Island. Captain Conrad E. LaGueux died on 26 June 2001. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.