Paul D. LaFond ’43

Paul D. LaFond ’43, a decorated leader who served in three wars, died on December 31, 2010, in Falmouth, Maine.

He was born in Skowhegan, Maine, on July 28, 1921, and prepared for college at Skowhegan High School. He attended Bowdoin from 1939 to 1942, a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, but left to enlist in the Marine Corps during World War II. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1962. He trained at officer candidate school before being deployed to fight in the Pacific. He received the Silver Star for gallantry in action during the battle for Okinawa, where as second lieutenant he served as rifle platoon commander of the First Marine Division. The citation reads, in part: “When the other platoon leaders of his company became casualties . . . Second Lieutenant LaFond immediately assumed command of these platoons in addition to his own and, reorganizing the company in the face of fanatical Japanese resistance, continued the assault and seized the objective. During the next 40 hours, he stationed himself on the most fiercely contested points of the line and by his splendid example of leadership inspired his men to repel every attempted counterattack.” After World War II, he returned to Boston, where he met his first wife, Katherine Boardman, and they were married in 1948. During the Korean War, he served with the Third Tank Battalion and was managing editor of the Marine Corps Gazette from 1951 to 1954. He was deployed for the last time to Vietnam, where he commanded the Third Marine Division and served as senior officer and plans officer of the Joint Amphibious Task Force. He was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat V, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Presidential Unit citation, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and several combat decorations. He retired from military service in 1970 and was appointed administrative assistant to Congressman Paul N. McCloskey Jr. of California, a position he held for two years. In 1971, they went on a fact- finding mission to Laos to investigate civilian relocations resulting from an invasion by South Vietnamese forces. Their mission, which was sharply critical of U.S. war policy, was featured in Life magazine. He attempted to retire again by moving to a farm in Vermont, but was recruited in 1974 to become Commandant of Cadets and Dean of students at Norwich University, where he worked for five years. An ardent fly-fisherman, his fraternity brothers at Bowdoin nicknamed him “Trapper” for his fishing excursions. He never lost his love of the outdoors, learning to snowboard at age 74, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling along the Kennebec River. He is survived by three sons, Geoffrey, Peter, and Mark LaFond; and seven grandchildren.