Crowe, Jr., William, ADM

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Last Rank
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112X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Submarine Warfare
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1985-1989, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
Service Years
1947 - 1989

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Oklahoma City, OK

Date of Passing
Oct 18, 2007
Location of Interment
U.S Naval Academy Cemetery - Annapolis, Maryland
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Not Specified

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Obituary: William J. Crowe, Jr. '47

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Crowe Dies at 82

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2007 - Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. William J. Crowe died early today at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He was 82.

Crowe served as chairman from 1985 to 1989 under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

His Navy career spanned the entirety of the Cold War, from his entry to the service following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946 to his retirement as the highest-ranking officer in the military in 1989 as the Soviet Union began to crumble.

"Every man and woman of the U.S. military joins me in mourning the death of retired Admiral William Crowe, Vietnam and Cold War veteran and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," said Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We extend humbly to his family our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies in their time of grief and sorrow.

"As we mourn his passing, so too should we reflect on his contributions to our national security -- of the thousands of lives he guided, the careers he mentored, the difference he made simply by virtue of his leadership," Mullen continued. "We are a stronger, more capable military today in large part because of his efforts to make us so. We would all do well to remember that and to never forget the remarkable legacy of this truly humble, truly noble man."

The Soviet Union and terrorism dominated Crowe's tenure as chairman. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced perestroika and glasnost - literally, "restructuring" and "openness" -- to his nation. Gorbachev meant for the policies to strengthen the Soviet Union and make the country economically competitive with the West.

The openness that Gorbachev wanted included military relations. Crowe was at the epicenter of these changes. The admiral hosted Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergei Akhromeyev during a visit to the Pentagon in 1987. Akhromeyev, the chief of the Soviet General Staff, even attended a meeting with the Joint Chiefs in "The Tank," the secure room the chiefs use to discuss military matters.

The admiral also confronted the plague of terrorism. Palestinian terrorists were active, with the most famous terrorist act being the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985. Navy fighters intercepted an Egyptian airliner flying the terrorists to safety and forced the plane to land in Sicily, where Italian authorities took the men into custody.

In addition, Crowe confronted the threat posed by Libya's Muammar Qadhafi. The state sponsored terrorism and proclaimed a "Line of Death" in the Mediterranean's Gulf of Sidra. On April 5, 1986, the oil-rich nation sponsored terrorists who bombed a disco in West Berlin, killing two soldiers and a Turkish woman. Ten days later, U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft attacked military targets in Tripoli and Benghazi.

The admiral was a devotee of the TV show "Cheers," and played himself in a short appearance on the hit show.

A career submariner, Crowe was born in Kentucky and grew up in Oklahoma City. Following graduation from the Naval Academy, he served aboard the USS Carmick, USS Flying Fish and USS Clamagore. He was executive officer of the USS Wahoo and commanded the USS Trout from 1960 to 1962.

At 44, Crowe volunteered to serve in Vietnam as the senior advisor to the South Vietnamese Riverine Force from 1970 to 1971.

Crowe became a rear admiral in 1973 and held a number of staff jobs in the Pentagon before becoming the commander of the Middle East Force in Bahrain in 1976. After pinning on his fourth star, Crowe commanded Allied Forces Southern Europe from 1980 to 1983 and then served as commander in chief of U.S. Pacific Command in 1983.

Crowe was the first chairman to serve under the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1986. The act made the chairman the principal military advisor to the president, defense secretary and the rest of the National Security Council.

Along the way, Crowe received a master's degree from Stanford University and a doctorate from Princeton.

After his retirement, the admiral served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom and on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

The admiral taught political science at the Naval Academy. His book "The Line of Fire" was a memoir of his time in the military.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Shirley, his daughter, Bambi, and his sons, Brent and Blake.

Thursday, Oct 18, 2007 - 01:57 PM (Panama City, FL)
By Jim Garamone

Other Comments:
By the Navy News Service

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- 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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 Duty Stations
US NavySchool Assignments - StaffUSS Flying Fish (SS-229)USS Wahoo (SS-565)
CNO - OPNAVUSS Trout (SS-566)COMSUBPAC/COMSUBRON 3Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE)/Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSE)
US Pacific Command (USCINCPAC/USPACOM)Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
  1946-1948, 110X, USS Carmick (DD-493)
  1948-1948, 117X, Submarine Officer Basic Course
  1948-1950, USS Flying Fish (SS-229)
  1956-1958, 112X, USS Wahoo (SS-565)
  1958-1960, CNO - OPNAV
  1960-1962, 112X, USS Trout (SS-566)
  1965-1967, 112X, COMSUBPAC/COMSUBRON 3
  1976-1977, Commander Middle East Force Surface Action Group (MEFSAG)
  1977-1980, CNO - OPNAV
  1980-1983, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE)/Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSE)
  1983-1985, US Pacific Command (USCINCPAC/USPACOM)
  1985-1989, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1962-1962 Cold War Event - Cuban Blockade
 Colleges Attended 
University of OklahomaUnited States Naval AcademyStanford UniversityPrinceton University
  1942-1943, University of Oklahoma
  1943-1947, United States Naval Academy
  1955-1957, Stanford University
  1962-1965, Princeton University
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