Boorda, Jeremy Michael

▪ 1997

      ("MIKE"), U.S. naval commander (b. Nov. 26, 1938, South Bend, Ind.—d. May 16, 1996, Washington, D.C.), joined the military as an enlisted sailor and rose through the ranks to become a four-star admiral (1987) and chief of naval operations (1994-96)—the navy's senior military officer and commander of all its active-duty and reserve personnel. In 1956 Boorda fled his unhappy childhood home by dropping out of high school and falsifying his age in order to enlist. He was educated at Officer Candidate School, Newport, R.I. (1962), and at the University of Rhode Island (B.A., 1971), and he undertook postgraduate study at the Naval War College, Newport. During the Vietnam War he was promoted from ensign to lieutenant to commander, although he did not engage in combat there. From 1991 to 1994 he was based in Naples, where he was in charge of NATO forces in southern Europe. He became involved in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and became a proponent of U.S. intervention there. In 1994 he led NATO forces in attacks against Bosnian-Serb fighter planes violating a UN "no-fly" zone and in support of air strikes on Gorazde—the first time in NATO history that its forces had been used in an offensive mission. As chief of naval operations, it fell to him to face the political fallout from several high-profile misconduct scandals, including the 1991 sexual assault incident known as the Tailhook affair. Boorda committed suicide hours after reporters had inquired about two combat-related medals that he had worn until 1995. Following his death, high-ranking navy officials disagreed over whether Boorda, who during the Vietnam War had served aboard a ship traveling in a combat zone, had a right to wear the medals.

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Universalium. 2010.

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