The passing of former Defense Secretary Mel Laird is a loss for the United States and the Department of Defense.
Secretary Laird served his nation with distinction in the United States Navy, where he was awarded a Purple Heart during World War II, in the U.S. Congress, as secretary of defense, and at the White House.
Under President Richard Nixon, Secretary Laird led the Defense Department through a time of great change in the world and within our department. He was always particularly proud that he oversaw the successful transition to an all-volunteer force. Through it all, he demonstrated an unfailing commitment to protecting our country, strengthening our military, and making a better world.
Secretary Laird never lost that dedication, or his willingness to contribute to our mission. As secretary of defense, I’ve often benefited from his counsel, his encouragement, and his friendship. He was a reminder of the long arc of our great country, and what we all owe to those who came before us.
On behalf of the men and women of the Defense Department, I send my thoughts and prayers to the Laird family.
Release No: NR-409-16
Nov. 16, 2016