Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. (Dec 2, 1924- Feb 20, 2010)
Asked what he thinks now his famous pronouncement that he was in control?, Haig says:
“I don’t worry about the midgets.” “Only the Beltway gang gives a hoot about it. The rest of the world, as I told you, was reassured. I’ve been through a number of national crises and a number of presidencies from Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis to war in the field and that Cabinet and that White House performed very, very well that day. There was no panic.”
Does he have any regrets?
“No. Maybe if I had had a shotgun, I might have disposed of a few subsequent problems but I didn’t have one,”
Source: CBS News (The Day Reagan Was Shot)
Thank You General Haig – I would do it all again…
I feel honored to have served under your command!
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
- Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster
- Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster
- Bronze Star with “Valor device“
- Air Medal
- Purple Heart
- National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star
- American Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Korean Service Medal
- Vietnam Service Medal
- United Nations Service Medal
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. (December 2, 1924- February 20, 2010) was a retired United States Army general who served as the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. In 1973 Haig served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, the number-two ranking officer in the Army. Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe.
On February 20, 2010 news reports indicated that Haig passed away from an undisclosed illness.
Early life and education
Haig was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Regina Anne (née Murphy) and Alexander Meigs Haig, Sr., a Republican lawyer. He was raised in his Irish American mother’s Catholic religion, and attended Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia. He graduated from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania and then went to the University of Notre Dame for one year, before transferring to the United States Military Academy, where he graduated in 1947. He studied business administration at Columbia Business School in 1954 and 1955. He also received a master’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 1961, where his thesis focused on the role of the military officer in the making of national policy.
Serves with MacArthur in Korea
As a young officer, Haig served on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur in Japan. In the early days of the Korean War, Haig was responsible for maintaining General MacArthur’s situation map and briefing MacArthur each evening on the day’s battlefield events. Haig later saw combat in the Korean War (1950–51) with the X Corps, led by MacArthur’s Chief of Staff, General Edward Almond. During the Korean War, Haig earned two Silver Stars for heroism and a Bronze Star with Valor device.” Haig participated in seven Korean War campaigns, including the Battle of Inchon, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, and the evacuation of Hŭngnam.
Haig later served as a staff officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCSOPS) at the Pentagon (1962–64), and then was appointed Military Assistant to Secretary of the Army Stephen Ailes in 1964. Haig then was appointed Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. He continued in that service until the end of 1965, whereupon he took command of a battalion of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.
Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam
On May 22, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Haig was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the US Army’s second highest medal for valor, by General William Westmoreland as a result of his actions during the battle of Ap Gu in March 1967. During the battle, Haig’s troops (of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (United States) became pinned down by a Viet Cong force that outnumbered U.S. forces by a three to one margin. In an attempt to survey the battlefield, Haig boarded a helicopter and flew to the point of contact. His helicopter was subsequently shot down. Two days of bloody hand-to-hand combat ensued. An excerpt from Haig’s official Army citation follows:
When two of his companies were engaged by a large hostile force, Colonel Haig landed amid a hail of fire, personally took charge of the units, called for artillery and air fire support and succeeded in soundly defeating the insurgent force…the next day a barrage of 400 rounds was fired by the Viet Cong, but it was ineffective because of the warning and preparations by Colonel Haig. As the barrage subsided, a force three times larger than his began a series of human wave assaults on the camp. Heedless of the danger himself, Colonel Haig repeatedly braved intense hostile fire to survey the battlefield. His personal courage and determination, and his skillful employment of every defense and support tactic possible, inspired his men to fight with previously unimagined power. Although his force was outnumbered three to one, Colonel Haig succeeded in inflicting 592 casualties on the Viet Cong… (HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2318 (May 22, 1967)
Haig was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart during his tour in Vietnam. Haig was eventually promoted to Colonel, and became a brigade commander of the 1st Infantry Division (United States) in Vietnam.
Alexander Haig returned to the continental United States at the end of his one-year tour, to become Regimental Commander of the Third Regiment of the Corps of Cadets at West Point, under the also newly arrived Commandant, Brigadier General Bernard W. Rogers. (Both had served together in the 1st Infantry Division, Rogers as Assistant Division Commander and Haig as Brigade Commander.)
Security Advisor (1969–1972)
In 1969, he was appointed as Military Assistant to the Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, a position he retained until 1970, when President Richard Nixon promoted Haig to Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In this position, Haig helped South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu negotiate the final cease-fire talks in 1972. Haig continued in this position until 1973, when he was appointed to be Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, a post he held until the last few months of President Nixon’s tenure, when he served as White House Chief of Staff.
White House Chief of Staff (1973–1974)
Alexander Haig served as White House Chief of Staff during the height of the Watergate affair from May 1973 until September 1974, taking over the position from H.R. Haldeman, who resigned on April 30, 1973, while under pressure from Watergate prosecutors.
Haig played a large “crisis management” role as the Watergate scandal unfolded. Haig has been largely credited with keeping the government running while President Nixon was preoccupied with Watergate. Haig also played an instrumental role in finally persuading Nixon to resign. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Nixon had been assured of a pardon by Ford if he would resign. In this regard, in his 2001 book “Shadow,” author Bob Woodward describes Haig’s role as the point man between Nixon and then Vice President Gerald Ford during the final days of Watergate. According to the book, Haig played a major behind-the-scenes role in the delicate negotiations of the transfer of power from President Nixon to President Ford.
Haig remained White House Chief of Staff during the early days of the Ford Administration until Donald Rumsfeld replaced him in September 1974. By that time, Ford, in a highly controversial move, had pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed as president. Author Roger Morris, a former colleague of Haig’s on the National Security Council, early in Nixon’s first term, wrote in his book Haig: The General’s Progress, that when Ford pardoned Nixon, he in effect pardoned Haig as well. Haig had been a persistent solicitor of clemency for Nixon.
NATO Supreme Commander (1974–1979)
Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and commander-in-chief of United States European Command (CinCUSEUR), the Commander of NATO forces in Europe, from 1974 to 1979. A creature of habit, Haig took the same route to SHAPE every day and this pattern of behavior did not go unnoticed by terrorist groups. On June 25, 1979, Haig was the victim of an assassination attempt in Mons, Belgium. A land mine blew up under the bridge on which Haig’s car was traveling, narrowly missing Haig’s car but wounding three of his bodyguards in a following car.Authorities later attributed responsibility for the attack to the Red Army Faction (RAF). In 1993 a German Court sentenced Rolf Clemens Wagner, a former RAF member, to life imprisonment for the assassination attempt.
Alexander Haig, as a four-star general, retired from the Army in 1979, and moved on to civilian employment. In 1979, he became President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Director of United Technologies, Inc., a job he retained until 1981.
Secretary of State (1981-1982)
In January 1981, Haig was tapped by President Ronald Reagan to be Secretary of State. Confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee focused on Haig’s role during Watergate. Haig was confirmed by a Senate vote of 93-6.
Reagan assassination attempt
In 1981, after the March 30 assassination attempt on Reagan, Haig asserted before reporters “I am in control here” as a result of Reagan’s hospitalization.
Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State in that order, and should the President decide he wants to transfer the helm to the Vice President, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.
It was assumed by many who heard this that Secretary Haig had an antiquated familiarity with the order of succession to the presidency. Rather than being seen as an attempt to allay the nation’s fear, the quotation became seen as a laughable attempt by Haig to exceed his authority.
Haig would have been incorrect if this were an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution concerning both the presidential line of succession and the 25th Amendment, which dictates what happens when a president is incapacitated. The holders of the two offices between the Vice President and the Secretary of State, the Speaker of the House (at the time, Tip O’Neill) and the President pro tempore of the Senate (at the time, J. Strom Thurmond), would be required under U.S. law (3 U.S.C. § 19) to resign their positions in order for either of them to become acting President. This was an unlikely event considering that Vice-President Bush was merely not immediately available. Haig’s statement reflected political reality, if not necessarily legal reality. Haig later said,
I wasn’t talking about transition. I was talking about the executive branch, who is running the government. That was the question asked. It was not, “Who is in line should the President die?”
Haig was the host for several years of the television program World Business Review. He now hosts 21st Century Business, with each program a weekly business education forum that includes business solutions, expert interview, commentary and field reports. Haig is co-chairman of the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen J. Solarz. Haig is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors. Haig was a founding Board Member of America Online. On January 5, 2006, Haig participated in a meeting at the White House of former Secretaries of Defense and State to discuss United States foreign policy with Bush administration officials. On May 12, 2006, Haig participated in a second White House meeting with 10 former Secretaries of State and Defense. The meeting including briefings by Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, and was followed by a discussion with President George W. Bush. Haig published his memoirs, entitled Inner Circles: How America Changed The World, in 1992. On February 19, 2010, a hospital spokesman revealed that the 85 year old Haig was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, since January 28, 2010, in critical condition. On February 20, 2010 Haig died at the age of 85.
Alexander Haig is the father of author Brian Haig. His daughter, Barbara Haig, is currently the Vice President of the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. Haig’s brother, Frank, is a Jesuit priest. He served as seventh president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and is now teaching physics at Loyola University in Maryland. Haig’s older sister; Regina Haig Meredith is a practicing attorney licensed in Pennsylvania and is New Jersey co-founding Partner of the firm Meredith, Meredith, Chase and Taggart, located in Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey.
The West Point Alma Mater
Hail, Alma Mater dear,
To us be ever near,
Help us thy motto bear
Through all the years.
Let duty be well performed,
Honor be e’er untarned,
Country be ever armed,
West Point, by thee.
Guide us, thy sons, aright,
Teach us by day, by night,
To keep thine honor bright,
For thee to fight.
When we depart from thee,
Serving on land or sea,
May we still loyal be,
West Point, to thee.
And when our work is done,
Our course on earth is run,
May it be said, ‘Well Done;
Be Thou At Peace.’
E’er may that line of gray
Increase from day to day,
Live, serve, and die, we pray,
West Point, for thee.
Telegraph: Alexander Haig