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Politics & Government

Former WI Congressman, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird Dies

Melvin Laird served as President Richard Nixon's first Defense Secretary and helped orchestrate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam.

The former Wisconsin Congressman from central Wisconsin also phoned to ask his friend and fellow Congressman Gerald Ford of Michigan, whether he would be interested in becoming Nixon's Vice President, after Spiro Agnew resigned amid a financial scandal. Ford agreed and later become President, after Nixon resigned because of the Watergate crimes and cover-up. At the time, Laird had been Nixon's Counselor on Domestic Affairs.

According to Laird's family, he was 94-years-old when he passed away today, in Florida.

The Marshfield Clinic Health System released a statement regarding Laird's career, saying, "Laird was a champion for health care in Wisconsin and the U.S. His work helped shape medical research as we know it...He was a leader who represented Wisconsin and his country with vigor and strength during a difficult time."

Laird represented Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District, which encompasses much of the area the Marshfield Clinic serves.