Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr.
Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1947
Engagements: • Korean War (1950 - 1953)• Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)
Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr.
Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. was born on 2 December 1924 in Bala Cynwyd, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. He was the middle of three children of Alexander Meigs Haig, Sr., a Republican lawyer, and his wife Regina Anne Murphy. When Haig was 10, his father, aged 38, died of cancer, and his Irish American mother raised her children in the Catholic Church. He attended Saint Joseph's Preparatory School in North Philadelphia. He then studied at the University of Notre Dame for two years, before transferring to the U.S. Military Academy, where he graduated in 1947. Haig later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Columbia Business School in 1955 and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Georgetown University in 1961. His thesis examined the role of military officers in making national policy.
As a young officer, Haig served on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur in Japan. In the early days of the Korean War, Haig was responsible for maintaining General MacArthur's situation map and briefing MacArthur each evening on the day's battlefield events. Haig later served (1950-51) with the X Corps, as aide to MacArthur's Chief of Staff, the controversial General Edward Almond, who awarded Haig two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star with Valor device. Haig participated in four Korean War campaigns, including the Battle of Inchon, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, and the evacuation of Hŭngnam as Almond's aide.
Haig served as a staff officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCSOPS) at the Pentagon (1962-64), and then was appointed Military Assistant to Secretary of the Army Stephen Ailes in 1964. He was then appointed Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, continuing in that service until the end of 1965.
In 1966 Haig took command of a battalion of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam. On 22 May 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Haig was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army's second highest medal for valor, by General William Westmoreland as a result of his actions during the Battle of Ap Gu in March 1967. During the battle, Haig's troops (of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division) became pinned down by a Viet Cong force that outnumbered U.S. forces by three to one. In an attempt to survey the battlefield, Haig boarded a helicopter and flew to the point of contact. His helicopter was subsequently shot down. Two days of bloody hand-to-hand combat ensued. An excerpt from Haig's official Army citation follows:
"When two of his companies were engaged by a large hostile force, Colonel Haig landed amid a hail of fire, personally took charge of the units, called for artillery and air fire support and succeeded in soundly defeating the insurgent force ... the next day a barrage of 400 rounds was fired by the Viet Cong, but it was ineffective because of the warning and preparations by Colonel Haig. As the barrage subsided, a force three times larger than his began a series of human wave assaults on the camp. Heedless of the danger himself, Colonel Haig repeatedly braved intense hostile fire to survey the battlefield. His personal courage and determination, and his skillful employment of every defense and support tactic possible, inspired his men to fight with previously unimagined power. Although his force was outnumbered three to one, Colonel Haig succeeded in inflicting 592 casualties on the Viet Cong ... " (HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2318 (22 May 1967)
Haig was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart during his tour in Vietnam. He was eventually promoted to Colonel, becoming a brigade commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.
At the end of his one-year tour, Alexander Haig returned to the U.S. to become Regimental Commander of the Third Regiment of the Corps of Cadets at West Point, under the newly arrived Commandant, Brigadier General Bernard W. Rogers. (Both had served together in the 1st Infantry Division, Rogers as Assistant Division Commander and Haig as Brigade Commander.)
Security Adviser (1969-1972)
In 1969, Haig was appointed Military Assistant to the Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger. He retained that position until 1970 when President Richard Nixon promoted Haig to Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In this position, Haig helped South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu negotiate the final cease-fire talks in 1972. Haig continued in this position until 1973, when he was appointed to be Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, a post he held until the last few months of President Nixon's tenure; during which he served as White House Chief of Staff.
NATO Supreme Commander (1974-79)
From 1974 to 1979, Haig served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), the Commander of NATO forces in Europe, and Commander-in-Chief of United States European Command (CinCUSEUR). A creature of habit, Haig took the same route to SHAPE every day - a pattern of behavior that did not go unnoticed by terrorist groups. On 25 June 1979, Haig was the apparent target of an assassination attempt in Mons, Belgium. A land mine blew up under the bridge on which Haig's car was traveling, narrowly missing Haig's car, but wounding three of his bodyguards in a following car. Authorities later attributed responsibility for the attack to the Red Army Faction (RAF). In 1993 a German Court sentenced Rolf Clemens Wagner, a former RAF member, to life imprisonment for the assassination attempt.
General Alexander M. Haig retired from the U.S. Army in 1979.
Medals, Awards and BadgesDistinguished Service Cross
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with Bronze Numeral 27
Army Commendation Medal
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star
Korean Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
National Order of Vietnam
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm
United Nations Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Army Valorous Unit Award
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Presidential Service Badge
(For Information on Alexander M. Haig's Civilian Career, see Wikipedia.)
In 1980, Haig had a double bypass operation on his heart.
Haig's memoirs - Inner Circles: How America Changed The World - were published in 1992.
Haig was the host for several years of the television program World Business Review. At the time of his death, he was the host of 21st Century Business, with each program a weekly business education forum that included business solutions, expert interview, commentary and field reports. Haig served as a founding member of the advisory board of Newsmax Media, which publishes the conservative web site, Newsmax.com. He was co-chairman of the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen J. Solarz. A member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors, Haig was also a founding Board Member of America Online.
On 5 January 2006, Haig participated in a meeting at the White House of former Secretaries of Defense and State to discuss U.S. foreign policy with Bush administration officials. On 12 May 2006, Haig participated in a second White House meeting with 10 former Secretaries of State and Defense. The meeting including briefings by Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, and was followed by a discussion with President George W. Bush.
On 19 February 2010, a hospital spokesman revealed that the 85-year-old Haig had been hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore since 28 January and remained in critical condition.
Death and Burial
General Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. died on 20 February 2010. He died at the age of 85 from complications from a staphylococcal infection that he had prior to his admission at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
According to The New York Times, his brother, Father Haig, said the Army was coordinating a Mass at Fort Myer in Washington and an interment at Arlington National Cemetery, but both would be delayed by about two weeks due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, on 2 March 2010. Eulogies were given by Dr. Henry Kissinger and Sherwood "Woody" D. Goldberg.
Alexander Haig was married to Patricia (née Fox) from 1950 until his death. She is the mother of his three children, all of whom survive him: Alexander Patrick Haig Sr., Managing Director of Worldwide Associates, Inc., and Barbara Haig, "Deputy to President for Policy & Strategy" at the National Endowment for Democracy both of Washington, DC, and Brian Haig, author and military analyst of Hopewell, N.J. Haig's younger brother, Rev. Frank Haig, is a Jesuit priest and professor emeritus of physics at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. Rev. Haig also served as the seventh president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. Alexander Haig's older sister Regina Haig Meredith was a practicing attorney licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and was a co-founding partner of the firm Meredith, Meredith, Chase and Taggart, located in Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey; she died in 2008.
General Haig is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 30, Site 418LH.
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