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First Name: William

Last Name: Crowe

Birthplace: La Grange, KY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: James

Date of Birth: 02 January 1925

Date of Death: 18 October 2007

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1946-1989
William James Crowe, Jr.

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1947

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


William James Crowe, Jr.

Admiral, U.S. Navy

William James Crowe, Jr. was born on 2 January 1925 in La Grange, KY. At the beginning of the Great Depression, Crowe's father moved the family to Oklahoma City, OK.

In June 1946, Crowe completed a war-accelerated course of study and graduated with the Class of 1947 from the U.S. Naval Academy.

From 1954-55, he served as Assistant to the Naval Aide of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. From 1956-58, Crowe served as Executive Officer of the submarine USS Wahoo. In 1958, he served as an Aide to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. In 1960, Crowe took command of USS Trout, home ported in Charleston, SC, and served as Commanding Officer of that ship until 1962.

From there, Crowe earned a Master's degree in Education at the Stanford University School of Education, and then, turning down an invitation from Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to enter the Navy's nuclear-power course, earned an M.A. and a Ph.D in Political Science at Princeton University. During the Vietnam War, he was the senior advisor to the Vietnamese Riverine Force.

A long string of assignments followed:

• 1967-Head of East Asia Pacific Branch, Politico-Military Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

• 1969-Assumed command of Submarine Division 31, home ported in San Diego, CA.

• 1970-Senior Adviser to the Vietnamese Navy Riverine Force

• 1973-Promoted to Rear Admiral and made 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 Assistant Secretary of Defense

• 1976-Commander Middle East Force

• 1977-Promoted to Vice Admiral and made Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Plans and Policy

• 30 May 1980-Promoted to Admiral and made Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe

• 1983-Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command

On 10 July 1985, Crowe was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He continued to serve as CJCS through the Bush administration until 1989 when he retired from the Navy.

He was the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to benefit from the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 where he became, by statute, the principal military adviser to the President of the U.S. and the senior-most officer in the entire military establishment (across all the U.S. military branches). In October 1989, his successor, Army General Colin L. Powell, replaced him as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal (4 Awards)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3 Awards)
Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor Device
Air Medal with Bronze Award Numeral 7 (Strike/Flight Awards)
China Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal with Pacific Clasp
National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars
Vietnam Service Medal with 1 Campaign Star
Humanitarian Service Medal
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation
Republic of Vietnam Navy Distinguished Service Order 2nd Class
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal First Class
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Republic of Korea Order of the National Security Merit Tong-Il Medal
Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy
Knight Grand Cross of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand


Submarine Warfare Badge
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

In Retirement

After retiring from the Navy, 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 the Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in 1993. In 1994, President Clinton appointed Crowe U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and he served in that capacity until 1997.

He 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, which Crowe had a previous relationship with. At the time of his death, Crowe served as the Chairman of the Board of Visitors for the International Programs Center of the University of Oklahoma. He also served as an advisory board member for GlobalOptions, Inc., an international risk management and business solutions company headquartered in Washington, DC.

As he did at the University of Oklahoma in 1990-1991, Crowe taught a seminar class on National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2007.

In 2008 a fellowship was established in his 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 that has demonstrated high academic achievement, a commitment to public service and a desire to pursue a career in global affairs.


• Crowe was awarded Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) honorary degrees from numerous universities, including University of Liverpool, The George Washington University, and Knox College.

• In 1989, Crowe appeared in one episode of the TV sitcom Cheers (Series 7, Episode 17 "Hot Rocks"), where he played himself.

• 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.

• In 1998, the Atatürk Society of America 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 U.S.' highest civilian honor.


Crowe was married to Shirley Grennell in 1954. They had three children.

Death and Burial

Admiral William James Crowe, Jr. died on 18 October 2007 at Bethesda Naval Hospital, MD, at age 82 due to a heart condition. His funeral was held on 31 October 2007, at the Naval Academy Chapel; Bill Clinton spoke. He was buried later that day in the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.

Honoree ID: 490   Created by: MHOH




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