Jeremy Michael Boorda
Admiral, United States Navy
Chief of Naval Operations
Indiana Flag
From a comtemporary news report:

The nation's top Navy officer, distraught after some of his military awards were called into question, died Thursday, May 16, 1996, from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Adm. Jeremy Boorda was to have met about the time of the shooting with the Washington bureau chief of Newsweek magazine, which was working on a story concerning his medals. Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was no evidence the shooting was accidental and no suspicion of foul play. Two notes were found at Boorda's residence; they were sealed by investigating police.

At the White House, President Clinton praised Boorda, the first enlisted sailor in the history of the Navy to rise to its top position, as a man of ''extraordinary energy, dedication and good humor.''

Navy Secretary John Dalton said he had met with Boorda a day earlier. ''He was in great spirits,'' Dalton said. 

Rear Admiral Kendell Pease, who was with Boorda a little over an hour before the shooting, said Boorda was to have met with Newsweek's bureau chief in his Pentagon office at 2:30 p.m. to discuss questions about his Vietnam combat medals. The implication was that Newsweek was investigating whether Boorda had worn a combat ''V'' decoration that he was never officially awarded.

Pease said that when he told Boorda, about 12:30 p.m., what the subject of the interview was, the admiral abruptly announced he was going home for lunch instead of eating the meal that had been brought to his office. ''Admiral Boorda was obviously concerned,'' said Pease, the Navy's top public affairs officer.

In a statement, Newsweek Editor Maynard Parker said the magazine ''had not reached any conclusions'' about the medal controversy. Boorda's body was found about 2:05 p.m. in a side yard next to his quarters at the Washington Navy Yard. He was pronounced dead at D.C. General Hospital a few minutes later.

Boorda was awarded commendation and meritorious service awards for his duty in Vietnam, which included combat operations. But copies of the citations released Thursday by the Navy did not mention that Boorda qualified for wearing a combat ''V.''

Boorda was to have joined Clinton and other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House on Thursday for announcement of an initiative seeking a permanent worldwide ban on land mines.

Clinton opened the session with a moment of silence in Boorda's memory, as grim-faced military officers stood behind him.Clinton praised Boorda for his work in Bosnia and for showing ''unwavering concern for the men and women'' of the U.S. military.

As commander of NATO forces in southern Europe, Boorda was in charge of a NATO air strike against four Bosnian Serb aircraft flying in violation of a U.N. ban on fixed-wing flights. It was the first time a NATO commander had ordered alliance forces on an offensive mission in its 44-year history.

Boorda was born in South Bend, Indiana, and grew up in Chicago. He dropped out of high school, fibbed about his age and joined the Navy at the age 17.

He and his wife, Bettie, have four children.

JM Boorda Gravesite PHOTO
Photo (c) Michael Robert Patterson,July 1997



Remarks by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
Memorial Services for Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda
National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
May 21, 1996

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great
waters; these see the works of the Lord." [107th Psalm]

Today we mourn the loss of an American who loved to go down to the sea in ships, who did business in great waters in the service of peace and freedom, and who will see the works of the Lord. His name was Admiral Jeremy Boorda, "Mike" to all who knew him.

It has been said several times today, but is worth saying again, that Mike was a sailor's sailor. The first seaman recruit to become the Chief of Naval Operations. A Navy man who at every stage of his career put the interest of sailors and their families first. A Navy leader who helped make America's Navy the best that the world has ever seen. And a family man who deeply loved his wife Bettie and their children.

As Secretary of Defense I relied on Mike's advice. Indeed we first met during a security crisis when the Bosnian Serbs began shelling Sarajevo in defiance of a NATO ultimatum. As we weighed the allied response, Mike's advice -- respond with force -- carried the day. And it was Mike's combat leadership that directed the air strikes that stopped the killing and started Bosnia on the path to peace.

Under his wise stewardship of the Navy, Mike carried on the legacy of his predecessor and role model, the late Admiral Arleigh Burke. Like any great leader Mike's heart was with his people. He was a seaman who became an admiral, but an admiral who never forgot his seamen, and nobody -- nobody -- had more pride in his sailors.

The hallmark of Mike's remarkable Navy career was a heartfelt recognition that no ship, no battle group, is better than the people who sail it. He knew we could not send our ships on extended overseas deployments without also having sophisticated and well-trained people with good morale. It is a tribute to Mike's leadership that our Navy today has such people. Their dedication
and pride never fail to impress me everywhere that I meet them -- on bases in the United States, on bases overseas, and on ships at sea.

Shortly after Mike had arranged to open up assignments for women to serve on combat vessels, he arranged for me to go to the USS EISENHOWER, and meet and talk with some of the men and women who are manning that ship.

One senior petty officer that I met had volunteered to delay her
retirement for the chance to be among the first women to deploy on a combat ship. When I met with her, I asked her why she had extended. She told me that her 20 years in the Navy she had always been assigned to shore duty or with supply ships. And she wanted to have least one tour on a Navy warship because she wanted to be able to tell her grandchildren that she had been a real sailor. That's what our Navy consists of today -- real sailors -- and this is the Navy that Mike built.

Last month, in his annual State of Navy Address, Mike Boorda talked about some of the difficult challenges facing the modern Navy. But he concluded by saying, "Do we have the best Navy in the world? You can count on it!"  And under Mike's leadership, I did count on it.

I'd like to close my remarks by expressing a hope and prayer, for his family, and for Mike's colleagues in the Navy. To his colleagues, my hope and prayer is that you will work to preserve his memory, to pursue his legacy and to persevere in the quest to sustain and strengthen the Navy Mike loved. To his family, my hope is that your pain will be relieved by the grace of God. This wish was expressed beautifully more than 2,000 years ago by the Greek poet Aeschylus, who wrote: "In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."



Jeremy Michael Boorda (November 26, 1939 May 16, 1996) was an admiral of the United States Navy and the 25th Chief of Naval Operations.

Navy career

Boorda, born in South Bend, Indiana to a Jewish family, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1956 and attained the rank of Petty Officer First Class. Boorda served a variety of commands, primarily in aviation. His last two enlisted assignments were in Attack Squadron 144 and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 11. He was selected for commissioning under the Integration Program in 1962.

Following Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and commissioning in August 1962, Boorda served aboard USS Porterfield (DD-682) as Combat Information Center Officer. He attended Naval Destroyer School in Newport and in 1964 was assigned as Weapons Officer, USS John R. Craig (DD-885). His next tour was as Commanding Officer, USS Parrot (MSC-197).

Boorda's first shore tour was as a weapons instructor at Naval Destroyer School in Newport. In 1971, after attending the U.S. Naval War College and also earning a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Rhode Island, he assumed duties as Executive Officer, USS Brooke (DEG-1).

That tour was followed by a short period at the University of Oklahoma and an assignment as Head, Surface Lieutenant Commander Assignments/Assistant for Captain Detailing in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, DC.

From 1975 to 1977, Boorda commanded USS Farragut (DDG-37). He was next assigned as Executive Assistant to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Washington, DC. He relieved the civilian presidential appointee in that position, remaining until 1981 when he took command of Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Two.

In 1983 and 1984, he served as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Personnel/Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel and Training. In December 1984, he assumed his first flag officer assignment as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations, remaining until July 1986.

His next assignment was Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group Eight in Norfolk, Virginia; he served as a Carrier Battle Group Commander embarked in USS Saratoga (CV-60), and also as Commander, Battle Force Sixth Fleet in 1987.

In August 1988, Vice Admiral Boorda became Chief of Naval Personnel/Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel and Training. In November 1991, he received his fourth star and in December 1991, became Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH - Naples, Italy) and Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR - London). As CINCSOUTH, Admiral Boorda was in command of all NATO forces engaged in operations enforcing United Nations sanctions during Yugoslav wars.

On February 1, 1993, while serving as Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Europe, Admiral Boorda assumed the additional duty as Commander, Joint Task Force Provide Promise, responsible for the supply of humanitarian relief to Bosnia-Herzegovina via air-land and air-drop missions, and for troops contributing to the UN mission throughout the Balkans.

On April 23, 1994, Admiral Boorda became the 25th Chief of Naval Operations. He was the first CNO who wasn't a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.

Boorda's military awards included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (three awards), the Legion of Merit (three awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards) and a number of other personal and campaign awards.

Suicide

Boorda died May 1996 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was reported to be despondent over a news media investigation into Valor device enhancements he wore on his Navy Achievement Medal and a Navy Commendation Medal (small brass Vs, signifying valor in combat), which the media report claimed he was probably not entitled to wear. It was later determined that he had, indeed, earned the devices in question.

Admiral Boorda was survived by the former Bettie Moran, four children and 11 grandchildren; two sons and one daughter-in-law are naval officers.


Arlington National Cemetery: Section 64, Grave 7101

BOORDA, JEREMY MICHAEL
United States Navy
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: Unknown
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/26/1939
DATE OF DEATH: 05/16/1996
DATE OF INTERMENT: 05/19/1996
BURIED AT: SECTION 64  SITE 7101
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

      DSM
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

    Legion of Merit
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

PHOTO - Admiral Boorda
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

American Memory

Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda
United States Navy
Chief of Naval Operations
26 Nov. 1939 - 16 May 1996
Official United States Navy Biography
Admiral Boorda, born in South Bend, Indiana, 26 November 1939, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1956. He attained the rank of petty officer first class, serving at a number of commands, primarily in aviation. His last two enlisted assignments were in Attack Squadron 144 and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 11. He was selected for commissioning under the Integration Program in 1962.

Following Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and commissioning in August 1962, Admiral Boorda served aboard USS Porterfield (DD 682) as Combat Information Center Officer. He attended Naval Destroyer School in Newport and in 1964 was assigned as Weapons Officer, USS John R. Craig (DD 885). His next tour was as Commanding Officer, USS Parrot (MSC 197).

Admiral Boorda's first shore tour was as a weapons instructor at Naval Destroyer School in Newport. In 1971, after attending the U.S. Naval War College and also earning a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Rhode Island, he assumed duties as Executive Officer, USS Brooke (DEG 1). That tour was followed by a short period at the University of Oklahoma and an assignment as Head, Surface Lieutenant Commander Assignments/Assistant for Captain Detailing in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, D.C.

From 1975 to 1977, Admiral Boorda commanded USS Farragut (DDG 37). He was next assigned as Executive Assistant to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Washington, D.C. He relieved the civilian presidential appointee in that position, remaining until 1981 when he took command of Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-TWO.

In 1983 and 1984, he served as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Personnel/Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel and Training. In December 1984, he assumed his first flag officer assignment as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations, remaining until July 1986.

His next assignment was Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group EIGHT in Norfolk, Virginia; he served as a Carrier Battle Group Commander embarked in USS Saratoga (CV 60), and also as Commander, Battle Force SIXTH Fleet in 1987.

In August 1988, Admiral Boorda became Chief of Naval Personnel/Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel and Training. In November 1991, he received his fourth star and in December 1991, became Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH - Naples, Italy) and Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR - London, England). As CINCSOUTH, Admiral Boorda was in command of all NATO forces engaged in operations enforcing UN sanctions against the warring factions in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.

On 1 February 1993, while serving as Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Europe, Admiral Boorda assumed the additional duty as Commander, Joint Task Force Provide Promise, responsible for the supply of humanitarian relief to Bosnia-Herzegovina via air-land and air-drop missions, and for troops contributing to the UN mission throughout the Balkans.

On April 23, 1994, Admiral Boorda became the 25th Chief of Naval Operations.

Admiral Boorda's military awards included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal (three awards), the Legion of Merit (three awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards) and a number of other personal and campaign awards.

Admiral Boorda died 16 May 1996 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He is survived by the former Bettie Moran, four children and 11 grandchildren; two sons and one daughter-in-law are naval officers.


Updated Information: June 25, 1998

Boorda's Disputed Awards Were Proper, Admiral Says Navy Secretary Amends File of Late CNO
Thursday, June 25, 1998

The civilian head of the Navy has revised the official record of Admiral Jeremy "Mike" Boorda, inserting a letter from another senior admiral saying Boorda had been entitled to wear two Vietnam-era combat decorations for valor that were challenged two years ago, prompting Boorda to take his own life.

Navy Secretary John H. Dalton placed in Boorda's file a recent letter from Elmo Zumwalt Jr., the chief of naval operations during the Vietnam War, that asserts it was "appropriate, justified and proper" for Boorda to attach the small bronze combat V's to the ribbons on his uniform.

A senior Navy spokesman said yesterday that the action did not constitute a formal ruling by the Navy on whether Boorda was entitled to the decorations. Such a determination, the spokesman said, could come only from the Board of Correction of Naval Records, which has not been petitioned to review the case.

But Dalton's intervention appeared to be an attempt to burnish Boorda's image and influence perceptions about whether the Navy leader had done anything wrong by donning decorations that were never formally included in the award citations he received.

Wearing an unauthorized decoration is a severe breach of military protocol. Boorda, who was 56 and chief of naval operations, shot himself through the chest at his home in the Washington Navy Yard on May 16, 1996, shortly after learning that two magazine reporters were coming to question him about his right to wear the disputed awards.

A suicide note he left indicated he thought he should not have worn the pins and had made a mistake in doing so. The note expressed concern that the controversy over the medals would cause a scandal and further besmirch the Navy's image.

The "V" stands for valor and signifies service in combat. Boorda had attached the decorations to a Navy Achievement Medal and a Navy Commendation Medal he received for his Vietnam tours aboard two destroyers. After being advised in 1995 by the Navy's Office of Awards and Special Projects that he was not entitled to the decorations, Boorda had removed the V's from his uniform.

While Boorda never was authorized in writing to attach the combat decorations, Zumwalt recalled delivering oral instructions during the war "in over 100 visits to ships and shore stations" authorizing the wearing of such awards "for duty in the combat zone of Vietnam." Zumwalt said in his letter that his "statements as the official military spokesman for the Navy made it appropriate, justified and proper for Mike to wear the V."

Zumwalt's letter and Dalton's memo inserting it in Boorda's file were not made public. Dalton took the action in April. The Washingtonian magazine discloses the move in its July issue, and the Associated Press reported on the development yesterday.

"Admiral Mike Boorda's citations for awards of the Navy Achievement Medal and Navy Commendation Medal plainly state they were awarded for service including 'combat operations' and 'while operating in combat missions,' " Dalton's memo said. "Further, Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr. USN (Retired), who served both as commander, US Naval Forces, Vietnam, and Chief of Naval Operations, has said that Admiral Boorda was entitled to wear the combat distinguishing device. I am making this information a matter of official Navy record." 


July 9, 1998
Navy Says Board Must Rule on Boorda

Navy Secretary John Dalton says only a Navy board can determine whether Admiral Jeremy "Mike'' Boorda, who committed suicide two years ago, had the right to wear decorations for valor from the Vietnam War. 

"It's not a question of what I think or what another senior naval official thinks. The process requires one to go through this board,'' Dalton told reporters during a visit this week to London. 

Boorda, the only enlisted man to become chief of naval operations, took his life in 1996 just before he was to be quizzed by Newsweek reporters about the Combat Vs -- tiny bronze letters standing for ``valor.'' 

In a suicide note "to my sailors,'' he said he felt disgraced. 

Boorda had been awarded the decorations for his service on a destroyer, the USS Craig, off the coast of Vietnam in 1965 and as executive officer aboard another destroyer, the USS Brooke, in 1973. 

In 1995, on the advice of the Navy's Office of Awards and Special Projects, he removed the decorations from his ribbons.

But four months ago, Dalton put in Boorda's service record a letter from Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., who was chief of naval operations during the war, acknowledging the admiral was entitled to wear the Combat Vs. 

"I knew that Admiral Zumwalt had written such a letter and wanted to make his comments a part of the record,'' Dalton said Wednesday."I thought from the standpoint of history that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren would like to know that those things existed.'' 

Dalton also wrote a memo that he put in Boorda's file saying the citations justifying the awards ``plainly state they were awarded for service including combat operations.'' 

The navy secretary, who is leaving at the end of the year, described Boorda's suicide as the worst moment in his five years at the Pentagon. But when asked whether Boorda officially was entitled to wear the decorations, Dalton replied that it wasn't a decision for him to make. 

The only official way of changing Boorda's record is for someone to request the Board of Corrections of the Naval Records to review the awards, he said. Typically, such a request is made by a family member, but he said no request has been made in Boorda's case.

Page Updated: 19 May 2001  Updated: 30 August 2001  Updated: 26 October 2002  Updated: 16 May 2003 Updated: 11 September 2004 Updated: 17 Deccember 2005