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Pentagon Mourns Former Spokesman Ken Bacon

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2009 – Pentagon officials expressed condolences over the passing of longtime Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon.

Bacon, who served as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs from 1994 to 2001 under the Clinton administration, died of melanoma Aug. 15. He was 64.

Bacon is remembered for his characteristic bow tie and his matter-of-fact style in addressing the Pentagon press corps. He dealt with a broad range of challenging issues, including the U.S. military missions in Bosnia and Kosovo.

He spent more than 25 years as a reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal before assuming his Pentagon post. After leaving the Pentagon, he became president of Refugees International, an organization committed to serving displaced people around the world.

“I, along with so many in the public affairs community, were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ken Bacon,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today.

“For me and so many others he was a role model, mentor and a friend. He will always be remembered for his kindness, professionalism and his selfless service to improving the human condition.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shared Whitman’s regret over Bacon’s passing. “The United States and the world lost a great humanitarian leader with the passing today of Ken Bacon, president of Refugees International,” she said in a statement issued this weekend.

“Most Americans remember Ken as the unflappable civilian voice of the Department of Defense, where he served with distinction as spokesperson for many years,” Clinton said.

“But for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people -- refugees and other victims of conflict -- Ken was an invaluable source of hope, inspiration and support,” she said. “From Central Africa to South Asia to the Americas, Ken shone the spotlight on the causes of humanitarian suffering, and served as an impassioned yet reasoned advocate for the principles of humanitarian protection and assistance.

“We will miss Ken, but we will be inspired by the contributions he has made and the example he has set.”

Farooq Kathwari, chair of Refugees International’s board of directors, echoed Clinton’s sentiments.

"Ken Bacon was an extraordinary human being. He led by example and dedicated his efforts to help those most vulnerable -- refugees and displaced persons across the globe," Kathwari said. "We are inspired by his passion, his integrity, his humility, and the dignity with which he faced the inevitable. We will sorely miss our friend and colleague."

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