Military Wiki
William James Crowe, Jr.
Crowe in October 1985
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom

In office
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Raymond G. H. Seitz
Succeeded by Philip Lader
11th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

In office
October 1, 1985 – September 30, 1989
President Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Preceded by John William Vessey, Jr.
Succeeded by Colin L. Powell
Commander in Chief of United States Pacific Command

In office
July 1, 1983 – September 18, 1985
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Robert L. J. Long
Succeeded by Ronald J. Hays
Personal details
Born (1925-01-02)January 2, 1925
La Grange, Kentucky, U.S.
Died October 18, 2007(2007-10-18) (aged 82)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1946–1989
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands USS Trout (SS-566)
Submarine Division 31
Allied Forces Southern Europe
United States Pacific Command
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Battles/wars World War II

Vietnam War

Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star
Air Medal (7)
Presidential Medal of Freedom

William James Crowe, Jr. (January 2, 1925 – October 18, 2007) was a United States Navy admiral who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and as the ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Bill Clinton.

Early life and education

Crowe was born in La Grange, Kentucky on January 2, 1925. At the beginning of the Great Depression, Crowe's father moved the family to Oklahoma City. In June 1946, Crowe completed a war-accelerated course of study and graduated with the Class of 1947 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.


From 1954 to 1955, Crowe served as assistant to the naval aide of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. From 1956 to 1958, 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, homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, and served as commanding officer of that ship until 1962. From there, Crowe earned a master's degree in education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and then, turning down an invitation from Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to enter the Navy's nuclear-power course,[1] earned an Master of Arts and a PhD in Political Science at Princeton University. During the Vietnam War he was the senior adviser to the Vietnamese Riverine Force. In 1969, he returned to service to take command of Submarine Division 31, homeported in San Diego, California. A long string of assignments followed:

  • 1967—Head of East Asia Pacific Branch, Politico-Military Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
  • 1970—Senior adviser to the Vietnamese Navy Riverine Force
  • 1973—promoted to Rear Admiral and named 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 Secretary of Defense
  • 1976—Commander, Middle East Force (COMMIDEASTFOR)
  • 1977—promoted to Vice Admiral and named Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Plans, Policy and Operations
  • 1980—promoted to Admiral and named Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH)
  • 1983—as CINCSOUTH, named Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR)
  • 1983—Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC)

On July 10, 1985, Crowe was appointed 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 active duty. He was the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve under the provisions of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 where he as chairman became (not the collegial body of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), by statute, the principal military adviser to the president, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense. In 1989, Army General Colin L. Powell replaced him as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Later life and death

After he retired in October 1989, 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 chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in 1993. In 1994, President Clinton appointed Crowe the United States 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, with which Crowe had a previous relationship. At the time of his death, Crowe served as the chairman of the board of Global Options, Inc., an international risk-management and business solutions company headquartered in Washington, D.C.

As he did at the University of Oklahoma in 1990–91, Crowe taught a seminar class on national security at the United States Naval Academy from 2000 to 2007.

In 2004, Crowe was among 27 retired diplomats and military commanders who publicly said the administration of President George W. Bush did not understand the world and was unable to handle "in either style or substance" the responsibilities of global leadership.[2] Crowe died on October 18, 2007, at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland at age 82 because of a heart condition.[3] His funeral was held on October 31, 2007, at the Naval Academy chapel; Bill Clinton spoke. He was buried later that day in the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.


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

Personal life

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

Dates of rank

Ensign Lieutenant junior grade Lieutenant Lieutenant commander Commander Captain
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg US Navy O4 insignia.svg US Navy O5 insignia.svg US Navy O6 insignia.svg
June 5, 1946 June 5, 1949 June 1, 1952 January 1, 1958 July 1, 1962 July 1, 1967
Rear admiral (lower half) Rear admiral (upper half) Vice admiral Admiral
O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10
N/A* US Navy O8 insignia.svg US Navy O9 insignia.svg US Navy O10 insignia.svg
June 1, 1974 August 1, 1977 September 26, 1977 June 6, 1980
  • At the time of Admiral Crowe's promotion, all rear admirals wore two stars, but the rank was divided into an "upper" and "lower half" for pay purposes

Awards and recognition

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 (Season 7, Episode 17 "Hot Rocks"), where he played himself.[4] On 1990 he was the first recipient of the Distinguished Sea Service Award of Naval Order of the United States.

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.

Crowe received four Defense Distinguished Service Medals and numerous military decorations from heads of state. In 1998, the Atatürk Society of America honored Crowe with the "Atatürk Peace and Democracy Award."[5] Following his retirement from the Navy, he was awarded a 2000 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor.[6]

Awards and decorations

Submarine Officer badge.jpg Submarine Warfare Insignia
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
U.S. military decorations
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Gold star
Gold star
Legion of Merit (with 2 gold award stars)
Bronze Star with Valor device
Air Medal with bronze award numeral 7 (strike/flight awards)
China Service Medal ribbon.svg China Service Medal
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Navy Occupation Service Medal with Pacific clasp
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with two bronze service stars
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with 1 campaign star
Humanitarian Service ribbon.svg Humanitarian Service Medal
U.S. Unit Awards
US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Navy Unit Commendation
Non-military decorations
Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png Presidential Medal of Freedom
Foreign awards
Vietnam Navy Distinguished Service Order Ribbon 2nd class.png Republic of Vietnam Navy Distinguished Service Order 2nd Class
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
Bronze star
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star
File:Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal.JPG Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal First Class
Tong-il Security Medel Ribbon.png Republic of Korea Order of the National Security Merit Tong-Il Medal
Cordone di gran Croce OMRI BAR.svg
Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy
Order of the Crown of Thailand - 1st Class (Thailand) ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal


  1. "Former Joint Chiefs Chair Crowe Dies," AP, Oct 18, 2007.[dead link]
  2. June 13, 2004, by the Los Angeles Times.
  3. Former JCS chairman Crowe dies at 82, Air Force Times; October 18, 2007.
  4. William J. Crowe Jr
  5. Turkish Press Review, dated April 28, 1998.
  6. Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, retrieved July 30, 2009.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
John William Vessey Jr.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
Colin Powell
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Raymond G. H. Seitz
U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Philip Lader

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