Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dies at 88

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Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks to politicians and academics during a luncheon on security in rising Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had died at the age of 88.

His family released a statement Wednesday saying “It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.

The former Navy pilot served as the 13th and the 21st Secretary of Defense. First under former President Gerald Ford from 1975 to 1977 and then under former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006.

In 1977, Rumsfeld was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Rumsfeld directed the actions of the Defense Department in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, he attended Princeton University on academic and NROTC scholarships (A.B., 1954) and served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor. In 1957, he transferred to the Ready Reserve and continued his Naval service in flying and administrative assignments as a drilling reservist until 1975. He transferred to the Standby Reserve when he became Secretary of Defense in 1975 and to the Retired Reserve with the rank of Captain in 1989.

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