June 30, 2021 -- Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who engineered the post-9/11 U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, died Tuesday of multiple myeloma, a family spokesperson told The New York Times.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of certain white blood cells known as plasma cells. These cells create antibodies to fight infections. In multiple myeloma, cancerous cells gather in bone marrow and block healthy blood cells.
Rumsfeld, 88, led the Pentagon for presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, and was one of most influential government leaders of the first decade of the 21st century. He died at his home in Taos, NM.
"It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico," the family said in a statement released Wednesday. "History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country."
In addition to being one of the longest-serving secretaries of defense, Rumsfeld also served under presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. He left Bush’s Cabinet in 2006. A polarizing figure at times, Rumsfeld often relished sparring with reporters from the Pentagon briefing room.
Bush fired Rumsfeld in 2006 as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq bogged down and became political liabilities. Rumsfeld had become the face of U.S. military policy, as controversies over the handling of Iraqi prisoners and the development of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, dogged the United States’ international reputation.
Rumsfeld was born in Chicago and attended Princeton University. He served as a Navy aviator from 1954 to 1957. He was elected to Congress in 1962 and resigned from the U.S. House in 1969 to work for Nixon.