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Boorda Dies, Called a Sailor's Sailor

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 20, 1996 – Adm. Jeremy M. Boorda, chief of naval operations, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound May 16.

Boorda had served in the post since 1994. Adm. Jay Johnson, vice chief of naval operations, is acting CNO until President Clinton nominates a successor and also assumes Boorda's duties as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Clinton said Boorda "brought extraordinary energy and dedication and good humor to every post he held in a long and distringuished career. From Southeast Asia to Europe, he devoted his life to serving our nation." He specifically cited Boorda's central work in planning the U.S. mission in Bosnia.

Defense Secretary William Perry called Boorda "a sailor's sailor." "At every stage of his career he put the interests of sailors and their families first," Perry said.

Navy Secretary John Dalton called Boorda an outstanding leader. "He was loved by the people of the Navy, officer and enlisted alike. We'll miss him very much."

Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "The Navy has lost a great Captain. I and so many others who have served beside him have lost a great friend."

Boorda was the first person to rise through the enlisted ranks to the top uniformed job in the Navy. He was born in South Bend, Ind., in November 1939. He lied about his age and joined the Navy at 16 in 1956. His enlisted time was spent in aviation. He rose to petty officer first class before being selected for commissioning under the Integration Program in 1962.

As an officer, Boorda served aboard the destroyers USS Porterfield, USS John R. Craig, USS Parrot and USS Brooke. He commanded the USS Farragut from 1975-1977.

In 1977, Boorda served as the executive assistant to the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs at the Pentagon. He then served as the principal deputy.

In 1981, he took command of Destroyer Squadron 22. Boorda was promoted to rear admiral in 1984 and served in Washington until July 1986, when he became commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8. He later served as carrier battle group commander aboard the USS Saratoga and as commander, Battle Force Sixth Fleet.

In August 1988, he became the chief of naval personnel in Washington. In November 1991, he received his fourth star and became commander in chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe. In this capacity he commanded all forces engaged in operations enforcing U.N. sanctions in the former Yugoslavia. In April 1994, Boorda became the 25th chief of naval operations.

The admiral is survived by his wife, Bettie, four children and 11 grandchildren.

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