A West Point grad, Secretary of State, Chief of White House staff and former President of United Technologies, General Alexander Haig has died at age 85 reportedly from an infection. You will get the chance to read his bio in this post below, and here at Steve’s post, but I wanted to make mention of my personal contacts with General Haig when I was a reporter with WFSB-TV.You will hear today he was an intimidating presence, but I don’t remember him that way. Business like, a general always, but whenever I saw him he had a smile. I am sure it was much different for those who worked for him, and I did not. But I know I admired him very much for his service to our country.
Haig joined United Technologies (UTC) in 1979 and I got the chance to interview him in the spring of 1980 (see picture at left) and again just before he left UTC to become Secretary of State in 1981 .I don’t remember much about either interview actually. Pretty standard stuff. But I do remember one thing about the second.
Rumors had been flying that President Reagan would select Haig to be Secretary of State, and so in Hartford, getting an interview would be a nice get. Calls went unanswered, and so I decided to camp out at his house at 5 a.m. I chose 5 a.m. because he was a general, and as my Dad taught me, once a military man, always a military man. It made sense.
Sometime after 6 a.m., Haig emerged from his house fully dressed and ready for work, walking down the long driveway to get his paper and smiling all the way. I remember his words more than the interview … “you are really something.” I wasn’t sure, really, if it was a compliment, and I worried he felt I had invaded his privacy. But that wasn’t the general. He respected initiative.
The interview was brief. He had a huge grin on his face the entire interview. He was in charge and both he and I knew it. I was no match. He gave no hint other than to say if called he would serve his country, but little more than that. In a matter of weeks he accepted the position and left UTC.
He would later return to serve on UTC’s board as an adviser, a shrewd move by United Technologies which is a major military contractor. No one knew DC better than General Haig. Below is his bio, and will be adding video later.
Alexander Haig, the decorated four- star general and assertive aide to U.S. presidents who declared himself “in control” at the White House after Ronald Reagan was shot, has died, the Associated Press reported. He was 85.
He died today at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore from complications associated with an infection, AP said, citing the Haig family.
Haig straddled the worlds of politics and the military during almost two decades in posts that included supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. His 18- month tenure as Reagan’s first secretary of state, the pinnacle of his political career, was marred by turf battles and by the famous comment he could never live down.
May God be with you general.