Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Passes Away

Friday, October 19, 2007
Former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, retired Adm. William James Crowe Jr., died Oct. 18, at Bethesda Naval Hospital. He was 82.

"Today our nation has lost a great patriot," said the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Donald C. Winter. "Adm. Crowe served our nation, and the men and women of our armed forces since the day he was commissioned in June of 1947. Whether acting as admiral, chairman, or ambassador, Adm. Crowe’s leadership and counsel were sought and valued by presidents and world leaders alike. He was a man of great conviction and dedication who helped guide our country during challenging times. He touched numerous lives and will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Shirley and the Crowe family."

A 1946 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Crowe’s 43-year career started in the diesel submarine community and ended in 1989 when he retired after serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Most notably, Crowe helped to determine the military policy many consider to have hastened the end of the Cold War.

"On behalf of the men and women of the U.S. Navy, I extend our sincere condolences to the Crowe family," said Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations. "Adm. Crowe was the finest example of a true gentleman and naval officer who served his country with distinction. He cared deeply about people, and always approached his duty and life with enthusiasm and a unique sense of humor. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Adm. Crowe."

Crowe began his career with an initial sea tour aboard USS Carmich (DMS 33). After completing submarine school in 1948, he qualified in submarines in March 1950 in the diesel submarine USS Flying Fish (SS 29). Almost all of his follow on sea assignments were aboard diesel submarines.

By 1954, Lt. Crowe served as Assistant to the Naval Aide to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. After leaving Washington in 1956, he returned to sea duty as executive officer of the USS Wahoo (SS 565) in Honolulu.

In January 1958 Crowe was appointed to lieutenant commander and soon became the personal aide to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Plans, Policy and Operations. This appointment would introduce him to the Navy's role in international politics and set firmly establish his career direction. By 1960, Crowe received his first command -- the Navy's newest diesel submarine -- USS Trout (SS 566). By 1962 Crowe was promoted to commander and later selected as one of the Navy's first candidates for a doctorate in social sciences.

After receiving a masters and doctorate in politics from Princeton University, Crowe received his Ph.D. in 1965 and returned to submarine duty as Chief of Staff to the Commander of Submarine Squadron 3.

In 1967, Crowe was promoted to captain. Four years later, he volunteered for service in Vietnam. He served first as an adviser and then as senior adviser to the Vietnamese Riverine Force in Mekong Delta. He returned to Washington in 1971. By 1973, Crowe was promoted to rear admiral. In June 1976 he assumed command of the Middle East force, based in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.

Crowe was promoted to vice admiral in 1977 and was appointed the Navy's Plans, Policy and Operations Deputy. After receiving his fourth star, Crowe became Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Southern Europe in 1980 and assumed the additional responsibility of Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces, Europe in 1983. In the same year, Crowe became Commander in Chief of the Pacific Command.

Crowe was selected as the 11th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after then-President Ronald Reagan met him during a brief stopover en route to China.

During Crowe’s chairmanship, Reagan met with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and suggested they rid Europe of all intercontinental ballistic missiles. This proposal ultimately led Crowe to initiate dialogue with the Chief of the Soviet General Staff. Together, they worked to lessen the likelihood of an accidental armed conflict between the countries.

Crowe’s tenure as Chairman also included adopting new rules of engagement in response to a string of terror attacks throughout Europe. Crowe allowed U.S. units to respond to apparent threats rather than waiting until they were fired upon. Crowe retired in 1989 and served as ambassador to the United Kingdom 1994-1997. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000.

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