Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr

Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr

Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 20 Feb 2010 (aged 85)
Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 30, Grave 418LH
Memorial ID 48374233 · View Source
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US Army General, US Secretary of State (1981-1982) under President Ronald Reagan, and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Active in politics throughout his military career, and later in his life, he was a tough, ambitious, controversial conservative leader who significantly influenced historical events during his lifetime. Born Alexander Meigs Haig, Junior, the middle child of three children, in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, he was named for his father, an attorney. His mother, Regina Anne Murphy, was a homemaker. After graduating from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, he attended the University of Notre Dame and then transferred to the US Military Academy, where he graduated in 1947. In 1950, he married Patricia Fox, and they would have three children: Alexander Patrick, Barbara and Brian Haig. Upon graduation from West Point, Lieutenant Haig served on the staff of General Douglas McArthur in occupied Japan, where Haig was responsible for maintaining McArthur's situation map, and for briefing the general each evening. Haig would later fight in the Korean War, winning two Silver Star Medals, and a Bronze Star with Valor device, fighting in the Battle of Inchon, at the Chosin Reservoir and the evacuation of Hungnam. After a successful tour of duty at the Pentagon in 1962 to 1964, Haig was appointed Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, Stephen Ailes, in 1964, and a year later to Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. Each of these assignments gave him a unique perspective on working in the political spotlight. In 1966, Haig commanded a battalion of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam, where on May 22, 1967, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for valor only just behind the Medal of Honor, for his actions at the Battle of Ap Gu, Vietnam, in which his battalion defeated a Viet Cong force three times larger than his own. He would later earn the Purple Heart Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross in Vietnam, and would be promoted to Colonel. Later assignments included West Point, Military Assistant to National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, and Deputy Assistant to the President, Richard Nixon. President Nixon was so impressed with General Haig's behind the scenes support of the Vietnam War Peace Negotiations that he had him appointed as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army in 1973, and several months later, named White House Chief of Staff, to replace H. R. Haldeman, who had resigned during the Watergate Investigation. In the tumultuous period from 1969 to 1973, Haig was promoted from Colonel to four-star General, a promotion rate of four stars in four years; only Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War II had a comparable promotion rate. These rapid promotions would give rise to the belief that Haig was a political general who owed his promotions to his civilian superiors. During the last year of the Nixon Presidency, Haig kept the government functioning as Nixon become increasingly preoccupied with the Watergate scandal that would eventually result in Nixon's resignation as President in 1974. President Gerald Ford would then appoint General Haig to serve as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) and as Commander-in-Chief, United States European Command (CinC, EUCOM), where he survived an assassination attempt by the communist Red Army Faction in 1979. General Haig would retire as a four star General in 1979, and would work for the next two years as Chief Executive Officer of United Technologies Corporation. Unable to stay out of the public spotlight, Haig became President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State in 1981. In March 1981, Haig had his most controversial political moment during the confusing events immediately following the Reagan assassination attempt by telling news reporters at the White House "I am in control here," a comment that he hoped would reassure the public that the government was still functioning, but was interpreted by many of just the opposite, who questioned his understanding of the role of presidential succession. In April 1982, Haig supported the British during the Falkland Islands War between Great Britain and Argentina, and was accused of encouraging the Israelis to attack Lebanon that same year. During policy disputes with cabinet members, Haig would frequently threaten to resign if others would not agree with his views, and eventually, President Reagan accepted his resignation. He was succeeded by George P. Schultz. In his later years, Haig would host the television program "World Business Review" and would serve on a number of political advisory boards. He would run in the Republican race for President in1988, but was never able to generate public interest in his candidacy, and quickly dropped out of the race. General Haig was hospitalized at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in January 2010 and died within a month from complications of staphylococcal infection.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

Family Members




1981 - 1982
1974 - 1979



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: A.J.
  • Added: 20 Feb 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 48374233
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr (2 Dec 1924–20 Feb 2010), Find a Grave Memorial no. 48374233, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .