Eulogy given at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Herndon, Virginia

5 December 2005

Taps For COL. John E. Rothrock, JR., USAF

Anthony F. Milavic,
Major, United States Marine Corps (Retired)

Colonel John Earl Rothrock, Junior, United States Air Force was born November 10, 1942 in San Francisco, California and raised in Towson, Maryland. After graduating from Hobart College, he joined the Air Force in 1964 where he served for 26 years before retiring in 1990. His career was highlighted by service as: the commander of intelligence interrogation units in both Vietnam and Germany; the Special Projects Officer, Headquarters, Air Force Security Service, San Antonio, Texas; Chief, Intelligence Plans, Air Staff; and, Instructor, National Defense University. His military service decorations include the Legion of Merit Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Air Force Commendation Medal.  Also, he was a distinguished-graduate of both the Joint Military Intelligence College and the National War College in Washington, DC; and, he maintained a 4.0 grade point average during 2 years of study at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana where he received a Masters Degree in Government and International Studies with a Certificate, Soviet Studies. Lastly, Colonel Rothrock was a self-taught German linguist.

Those words describe the Air Force officer we are here to remember. The following poem by Dylan Thomas and some of my own remembrances are intended to introduce you to the spirit of the man I called, “my friend” for over 35 years:


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I remember my friend springing to his feet in the lecture hall at the Joint Military Intelligence College to rage against inconsistencies and contradictions in the presentations of guest speakers and instructors. You see, the night before when the rest of us students were out on the town, my friend stayed home and read their books.

I remember my friend, as one of the group of retired officers who served as special advisors to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, raging against the recognition of homosexuals and other political initiatives that he saw as detrimental to the cohesion and combat efficiency the United States Air Force.

I remember my friend raging at the Wednesday night, Ft. Myer Roundtable. The Roundtable known for over 30 years by the Defense establishment as a forum for reformers such as Tom Christie, Chuck Spinney, Mike Wyly, Winslow Wheeler, Chuck Myers, G. I. Wilson, John Boyd, Terry Crews, and so on. 

I also remember my friend, not raging, but patiently coaching Little League Baseball, Pop Warner Football, and quietly stopping to buy Christmas presents for Toys For Tots.

I remember my friend, the day after he was admitted to the University Of Maryland Medical System for a dissected aorta characterizing his situation to me with a middle-finger salute. Later, he lapsed into unconsciousness and raged on for almost 6 weeks before the good night absorbed him on 25 November. I suspect, however, that my friend is looking at us here assembled with that same wry smile captured in the photo in the front of the church as he says: “You all waited for me those many years I was late to meetings, the Roundtable, dinners, etc., it's now my turn to wait for you. But just remember: Do not go gentle into that good night, otherwise, I will not welcome you here.” 

Semper Raging,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)