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William James Crowe Jr. (January 2, 1925 – October 18, 2007) was a United States Navy admiral and diplomat who served as the 11th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and as the ambassador to the United Kingdom and Chair of the Intelligence Oversight Board under President Bill Clinton.
Early life and education
Crowe was born in La Grange, Kentucky on January 2, 1925. At the beginning of the Great Depression, Crowe's father moved the family to Oklahoma City. In June 1946, Crowe completed a war-accelerated course of study and graduated with the Class of 1947 from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
In 1958, he served as an aide to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. In 1960, Crowe took command of USS Trout (SS-566), homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, and served as commanding officer of that ship until 1962. From there, Crowe earned a master's degree in education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. After turning down an invitation from Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to enter the Navy's nuclear power program, Crowe earned a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University in 1965 after completing a doctoral dissertation titled "The policy roots of the modern Royal Navy 1946-1963."
A long string of assignments followed:
- 1967 – Head of East Asia Pacific Branch, Politico-Military Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
- 1970 – Senior adviser to the Vietnamese Navy Riverine Force
- 1973 – promoted to rear admiral and named Deputy Director, Strategic Plans, Policy, Nuclear Systems, and NSC Affairs Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
- 1975 – Director, East Asia and Pacific Region, Office of the Secretary of Defense
- 1976 – Commander, Middle East Force (COMMIDEASTFOR)
- 1977 – promoted to vice admiral and named Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Plans, Policy and Operations
- 1980 – promoted to admiral and named Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH)
- 1983 – as CINCSOUTH, named Commander-in-Chief, United States Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR)
- 1983 – Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Command (CINCPAC)
On July 10, 1985, Crowe was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). He continued to serve as CJCS through the Bush administration until 1989, when he retired from active duty. He was the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve under the provisions of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, where he as chairman became (not the collegial body of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), by statute, the principal military adviser to the president, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense. On October 1, 1989, Army General Colin L. Powell succeeded him as CJCS.
Later life and death
On March 16, 1989, he made a cameo appearance in the “Hot Rocks” episode of Cheers.
After he retired in October 1989, Crowe returned to the University of Oklahoma and William J. Crowe chair in geopolitics. Crowe surprised politicians when he endorsed Bill Clinton in the presidential election of 1992. President Clinton named Crowe chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in 1993. In 1994, Clinton appointed Crowe the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and he served in that capacity until 1997.
Crowe sat on the boards of Texaco, Merrill Lynch, Pfizer, Norfolk Southern Corporation, and General Dynamics. He also served on the board of Emergent BioSolutions (then Bioport), a company that provided controversial anthrax vaccinations to the U.S. military in the 1990s. The deal was approved by the Clinton administration, with which Crowe had a previous relationship. At the time of his death, Crowe served as the chairman of the board of Global Options, Inc., an international risk-management and business solutions company headquartered in Washington, D.C.
As he did at the University of Oklahoma in 1990–91, Crowe taught a seminar class on national security at the United States Naval Academy from 2000 to 2007.
In 2004, Crowe was among 27 retired diplomats and military commanders called Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change who publicly said the administration of President George W. Bush did not understand the world and was unable to handle "in either style or substance" the responsibilities of global leadership.
As of 2016, he is one of only two deceased former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to not be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His predecessor, John William Vessey Jr. died in 2016 and was buried in Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery, Little Falls, Minnesota.
In 2008, a fellowship was established in Crowe's honor at the University of Kentucky's Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce to support a former member of the U.S. armed forces who – like Crowe – is shifting from military to diplomatic service.
In 2009, the International Programs Center at the University of Oklahoma established the Admiral William J. Crowe Jr. Award. This award is presented to an outstanding International and Area Studies (IAS) graduate every spring semester. The award recognizes an IAS student who has demonstrated high academic achievement, a commitment to public service, and a desire to pursue a career in global affairs. Also in 2009, the Xbox/ PS2 game, Heroes of the Pacific, was released. The main character's name is also William Crowe, though whether or not this was inspired by the real-life Crowe is unknown.
Crowe married to Shirley Grennell in 1954. They had three children.
Dates of rank
- Apprentice Seaman, United States Naval Reserve: December 4, 1942
- Midshipman, United States Naval Academy: June 23, 1943
|Ensign||Lieutenant junior grade||Lieutenant||Lieutenant commander||Commander||Captain|
|June 5, 1946||June 5, 1949||June 1, 1952||January 1, 1958||July 1, 1962||July 1, 1967|
|Rear admiral (lower half)||Rear admiral (upper half)||Vice admiral||Admiral|
|June 1, 1973||August 1, 1977||September 26, 1977||June 6, 1980|
- At the time of Admiral Crowe's promotion, all rear admirals wore two stars, but the rank was divided into an "upper" and "lower half" for pay purposes
Awards and recognition
In 1989, Crowe appeared in an episode of the television sitcom Cheers (Season 7, Episode 17 "Hot Rocks"), where he played himself, and was accused of stealing the General Managers (Kirstie Alley) diamond earrings.
In 1993, Crowe published his memoirs in the book The Line of Fire: From Washington to the Gulf, the Politics and Battles of the New Military.
Crowe received four Defense Distinguished Service Medals and numerous military decorations from heads of state. In 1998, the American Atatürk Association honored Crowe with the "Atatürk Peace and Democracy Award". Following his retirement from the Navy, he was awarded a 2000 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor.
Awards and decorations
- "Former Joint Chiefs Chair Crowe Dies". Press Association. October 18, 2007. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- Crowe, William J. (1965). The policy roots of the modern Royal Navy 1946-1963.
- Brownstein, Ronald (June 13, 2004). "Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change Official Statement Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (June 16, 2004)
- "Former JCS chairman Crowe dies at 82". Air Force Times. October 18, 2007.
- "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- William J. Crowe Jr. at IMDb
- "Admiral Crowe Receives Ataturk Award". Turkish Press Review. April 28, 1998. Archived from the original on December 10, 2000.
- "Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients". U.S. Senate. Archived from the original on July 14, 2004.
- List of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients#Military
- "Admiral William Crowe". The Times. October 23, 2007. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011.
- "Biographies in Naval History: Admiral William James Crowe, USN". Naval Historical Center. October 18, 2007. Archived from the original on October 29, 2007.
- "Senate statement on Crowe's tenure as CJCS". Congress.gov. Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2006.
- "President Clinton Nominates William Crowe Ambassador to the United Kingdom". White House Press Office. March 22, 1994. Archived from the original on October 3, 2006. Retrieved August 5, 2006.
- Peniston, Bradley (2006). No Higher Honor: Saving the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-661-2. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Foreword by Adm. (ret.) William J. Crowe.
- "Selected Works of Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., USN" (PDF). Washington, DC: Joint History Office, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 2013.
- "William J. Crowe Papers" (PDF). The Library of Congress.
- Appearances on C-SPAN