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Former SECDEF Harold Brown dies at 91

Harold Brown (right) and Zbigniew Brzezinski. (WikiCommons/Released)
January 07, 2019

On Friday, former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown died at the age of 91, in Rancho Santa Fe, California, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Brown served during the Carter Administration as U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1977 to 1981, the New York Times reported.

“It is with deep sadness that I extend my condolences on the passing of former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement.

“Dr. Brown led a remarkable life, first as an academic and scientist, and then as a public servant in a variety of prominent roles, including Director of Defense Research and Engineering, Secretary of the Air Force, and our 14th Secretary of Defense,” he continued. “He shaped our nation’s military for more than two decades, revolutionizing the development of naval munitions, renovating America’s post-Vietnam War weapons platforms, developing stealth aircraft, and leading nuclear weapons research.”

“As Secretary of Defense, Dr. Brown’s steady leadership piloted our nation through a consequential segment of the Cold War. His focus on deterrence through a strong nuclear triad facilitated long-term peace and stability in the United States and Europe,” Shanahan said.

“Following his Department of Defense service, Dr. Brown continued to offer his insight and experience to our nation’s military and political leaders. His wisdom and counsel were sought by leaders from five presidential administrations. We in the Department of Defense are forever grateful for Harold Brown’s devoted leadership and lifetime of service,” he added.

Brown was on the Rand Corporation Board of Trustees for 35 years, MSN reported.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, according to the Washington Examiner.

During the Iran hostage crisis, Brown led the Pentagon, calling the crisis the “greatest regret and most painful lesson learned,” the Washington Examiner reported.

“Most satisfying of all is that for four years, our nation remained at peace despite the world tensions and turmoil that constantly pose challenges to our interest and peace,” Brown said.

Harold Brown was the eighth secretary of the Air Force, serving from Oct. 1, 1965, to Feb. 14, 1969, according to the U.S. Air Force.

Brown was born in New York City on Sept. 19, 1927, to parents Abraham and Gertrude Brown. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and had earned several degrees, including a doctorate, by the time he was 21 years old.

Brown’s wife passed away in 2018. He is survived by his two daughters, Deborah and Ellen; two grandchildren and his sister, Leila Brennet.