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Stephen Ailes
Stephen Ailes
8th United States Secretary of the Army

In office
January 28, 1964 – July 1, 1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Cyrus Vance
Succeeded by Stanley Rogers Resor
Personal details
Born (1912-05-25)May 25, 1912
Romney, West Virginia
Died June 30, 2001(2001-06-30) (aged 89)
Bethesda, Maryland
Resting place Indian Mound Cemetery
Romney, West Virginia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Helen Wales (m. 1939–2001)
Relations William B. Cornwell (granduncle)
John J. Cornwell (grandfather)
Marshall S. Cornwell (granduncle)
Children Hester, Richard, Steven and Walter
Alma mater Princeton University (1933)
West Virginia University (1936)
Profession Lawyer

Stephen Ailes (March 25, 1912[1] – June 30, 2001[2]) was a prominent member of the District of Columbia Bar and a partner in the firm of Steptoe & Johnson. He served as the United States Under Secretary of the Army from February 9, 1961 to January 28, 1964[1] and as United States Secretary of the Army from January 28, 1964 to July 1, 1965. He received his undergraduate education at Princeton University, and attended the law school of West Virginia University, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.

Early life and education

Stephen was born in Romney, West Virginia, on May 25, 1912.[1] He attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia and graduated in 1929.[1] He graduated from Princeton University in 1933[1] and received his law degree from West Virginia University in 1936. He was admitted to the West Virginia bar in 1936.[1]

Legal career

He was appointed assistant professor of law at West Virginia University, 1937 – 1940.[1] He was prevented from military service due to color blindness;[3] but later he was hired at the Office of Price Administration in 1942 until 1946.[1] He served as counsel to the American Economic Mission to Greece in 1947, and then returned to private practice at Steptoe & Johnson in 1948; beforce entering government services.

Government career

Ailes served as Under Secretary of the Army, 9 February 1961 until 28 January 1964[1] and he was then promoted to Secretary of the Army until 1 July 1965.[1] He is oft credited as the driving force for the creation[4] of the United States Army Drill Sergeant program. He conducted a far-reaching survey over time that included a wide variety of xperienced personneel across all the services and the results contained five principle findings, with appropriate recommendations and suggestions for eliminating the problems encountered. The Training and Doctrine Command's annual Drill Sergeant of the Year award is named after Ailes.[5]

Personal life

Stephen married Helen 'Nellie' Wales on June 24, 1939.[2] and had four children. He died on June 30, 2001 from a stroke at his home in Bethesda, Maryland.[2] He is buried in his home town of Romney at Indian Mound Cemetery.

Gravestone at the interment site of Stephen Ailes and his wife Helen Wales Ailes at Indian Mound Cemetery in Romney, West Virginia.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Bell, William Gardner (1992). ""Stephen Ailes"". Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army: Portraits and Biographical Sketches. United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved September 22, 2007. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Stephen Ailes '33". Princeton Alumni Weekly. October 24, 2001. Retrieved August 25, 2011. 
  3. Barnes, Bart (July 8, 2001). "Stephen Ailes; Army Secretary in '60s". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 25, 2011. 
  4. "History of the Drill Sergeant". United States Army. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  5. "Stephen Ailes Award". Association of the United States Army. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Hugh M. Milton II
United States Under Secretary of the Army
February 1961 – January 1964
Succeeded by
Paul Robert Ignatius
Preceded by
Cyrus Roberts Vance
United States Secretary of the Army
January 1964–July 1965
Succeeded by
Stanley R. Resor

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