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Retired four-star general and former US Secretaryof State Alexander Haigdied Saturday morning of complications from an infection atJohns HopkinsHospital in Baltimore, Maryland at the age of85.

A WestPoint graduate and decorated veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars, Haigserved as commander of US forces stationed in Europe and SupremeAllied Commander of NATO. He also held topadvisory posts in the Nixon,Ford, and Reaganadministrations. Haig furthermore unsuccessfully sought theRepublican presidential nomination in 1988.

Despite his distinguished military and political career, Haigwas never able to fully live down his internationally televisedresponse to the assassinationattempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

“As of now, I am in control here in the White House, pendingthe return of the Vice President,” Haig said hours after theshooting.

Some saw the comment as a calculated usurping of Vice PresidentGeorge H.W.Bush‘s authority and as a purposeful disregard of the overallchain of command.

In his own defense, Haig later told the media that what he saidearlier was done “to reassure Americans” that the White House wasfunctioning during the absence of Vice President Bush whom wasflying back to Washington,D.C. from Texas at the time of theshooting.

In a press conference on Saturday, US President Barack Obamadescribed Haig as a valued public servant who “exemplified ourfinest warrior-diplomat tradition of those who dedicate their livesto public service.”

Haig “served his country in many capacities for many years,earning honor on the battlefield, the confidence of presidents andprime ministers, and the thanks of a grateful nation,” US Secretaryof State HillaryClinton later added.

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