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Melvin Laird, Former Wisconsin Congressman And Vietnam War Defense Secretary, Dies At 94

Walker: 'His Contributions … Will Always Be Remembered'

John Duricka/AP Photo

Wisconsin officials are paying tribute to former Wisconsin Congressman and U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird.

Laird’s grandson, Raymond Dennis Large III, confirmed Laird died Wednesday in Florida.

Laird, 94, served for eight years in the State Senate; he then represented Wisconsin in Congress from 1953 until 1969, when Richard Nixon chose him to lead the Department of Defense.

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Laird helped engineer the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam in that role and later served as a domestic advisor for the Nixon White House.

It was Laird who reached out to his friend, Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford, to ask if he would consider serving as Nixon’s vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned.

Ford accepted, and became president after Nixon resigned.

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker called Laird a patriot and said “his contributions in service to our nation will always be remembered.”