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War vet was very involved

Coastline Pilot

Longtime Laguna Beach resident, World War II and Korean War veteran Edward Louis Armstrong died May 10. He was 86.

The Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade Committee in 2002 recognized Capt. Armstrong’s service to his country as a submariner when he was named Patriot of the Year. The award is conferred on a Laguna Beach resident who has served the country gallantly or meritoriously in time of war or national emergency.

Armstrong moved to Laguna Beach in 1963 and was twice elected president of the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn.

He was a member of American Legion Laguna Beach Post 222 and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Laguna Beach Post 5868, as well as numerous other veterans groups, including the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II, U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc., the Holland Club, Naval Submarine League, International Submariners Assn., Tin Can Sailors, Navy League, Fleet Reserve Assn., Naval Reserve Assn., USC Naval ROTC Alumni League, Military Officers Assn. of America, U.S. Naval Institute and the U.S. Navy Memorial.


A memorial service was held for Armstrong on May 19 at the Los Alamitos Naval Station at the Submarine Memorial, followed by a luncheon in Cypress.

Armstrong enlisted in the Navy at 19 and went on active duty in June of 1943 in the midst of World War II.

A year later, the 20-year-old Armstrong was commissioned as an ensign and went to the Pacific Theater.

His service included three tours of duty in submarines and on surface ships. He was a recipient of the coveted submariner’s gold dolphin badge, awarded to officers qualified in all phases of submarine operations.


After retiring from active duty, Armstrong commanded a submarine division in the Naval Reserve and a submarine battalion, which consists of two divisions.

He also served as an instructor in oceanography and counterinsurgency at the Long Beach Naval Station Officers Training School.

All told, Armstrong served 33 years.

Between World War II and the American intervention in Korea, Armstrong returned to USC, where he was enrolled prior to joining the Navy. While at the university the veteran was Trojan Knight, twice president of his Sigma Nu - Epsilon Omicron fraternity chapter in 1943 and 1947, a member of the Interfraternity Council and of the Sophomore Class Council in 1943.

He graduated with a registered bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

His professional career included working as an engineer for Rocketdyne Corp., as a project manager for Autnetics, a sea trial director for Ingalls Shipbuilding and supervisor of construction, installation and repair for IMODCO.

He held patents in high-energy rate metal-forming and wrote a book on undersea construction, habitat and vehicles.

The third generation of his family born in Orange County, Armstrong was descended from the pioneer Cook family of El Toro.


He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Marilyn; a daughter, Victoria Rice; a son, John, from a previous marriage to Mildred Bailey; and three grandchildren: Shane Rice, and Jason and Jennifer Armstrong.