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Former JCS chairman Crowe dies at 82

Oct. 18, 2007 - 11:00AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 18, 2007 - 11:00AM  |  
(Mark Faram / Staff)
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Adm. William J. Crowe, a naval officer whose long career included stints as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. ambassador to England and even an appearance on the TV show "Cheers," died early Thursday, the U.S. Navy Memorial announced. He was 82.

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Adm. William J. Crowe, a naval officer whose long career included stints as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. ambassador to England and even an appearance on the TV show "Cheers," died early Thursday, the U.S. Navy Memorial announced. He was 82.

Crowe died of cardiac arrest at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., said Navy Memorial CEO retired Rear Adm. Rick Buchanan. Crowe was being treated for pulmonary disease.

"He was an outstanding man, a dedicated naval officer, a wonderful American, a scholar and a teacher. He will be missed," Buchanan said. Crowe was chairman of the Navy Memorial's board.

A 1947 Naval Academy graduate and a submariner, Crowe served as an assistant to President Eisenhower's naval aide, as executive officer of the Tang-class diesel/electric submarine Wahoo, captain of another Tang-class boat, the Trout, and then a string of other command and staff assignments, culminating with his appointment in 1980 to be commander in chief of allied forces in Southern Europe and his appointment in 1983 to be commander in chief of U.S. Pacific Command.

President Reagan tapped him to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1985, a position in which he served until 1989. During his tenure Congress passed the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, a sweeping measure that unified many aspects of a then-disconnected military and formally made Crowe, as Joint Chiefs chairman, the senior-most U.S. military officer.

On March 16, 1989, he appeared as himself in an episode of "Cheers" that took place on the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor.

After Crowe endorsed then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton during his presidential run in 1992, President Clinton asked Crowe to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, and he served until 1997. In 2000, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest U.S. civilian medals. That same year, he became chairman of the Navy Memorial board, taking over from Adm. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt.

Crowe is survived by his wife, Shirley Grinel, and their three children. According to Buchanan, a funeral has tentatively been scheduled for Oct. 31 at the Naval Academy.

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