Daniel Zwie Henkin – United States Coast Guard Government Official


WASHINGTON, April 8, 1987 – Daniel Z. Henkin, chief spokesman for the Defense Department in the tumultuous days of the Vietnam War, died Tuesday of complications after surgery for a kidney transplant.  He was 63 years old.

Mr. Henkin, a strapping man of 6 feet 5 inches tall, was a journalist since he was 18 years old and took part in six amphibious landings as a combat correspondent in World War II.  He was later editor of The Journal of the Armed Forces before joining the Defense Department.

Widely respected by journalists and government officials alike for his candor, integrity and good humor, Mr. Henkin served as press spokesman in the administrations of Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, and Richard M. Nixon, a Republican.

Daniel Zwie Henkin was born in Washington on May 10, 1923, ws educated in public schools here and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.  He first worked in the Washington Bureau of the Buffalo Evening News and then joined the Army-Navy Journal, which later became The Journal of the Armed Force and is now Armed Forces Journal International.

When the United States entered World War II, Mr. Henkin enlisted in the Coast Guard and took part in the landings on Saipan, in the Mariana Islands, and in the Philippines.  His picture, showing him scribbling noted in an amphibious assault, was once on the cover of Life magazine.

After the war, Mr. Henkin worked as a reporter for The Oakland Tribune in California, and then returned to Washington in 1948 to rejoin the staff of The Journal of the Armed Forces as an assistant editor.  He later became editor.

In October 1965, Mr. Henkin became the director of operations for the Pentagon’s press officer.  He was promoted to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in March 1967, to Acting Assistant Secretary in January 1969.

At a time when member of the press and government officials often distrusted and snarled at one another, Mr. Henkin urged that checks and balances be applied without rancor.  “Not only our constitutional system but also news professionalism,” he said, “often may require that we be adversaries, but neither the Constitution nor professionalism demands that we be antagonists.”

“We can be adversaries,” he said, “without being antagonists.”

When Mr. Henkin left the Pentagon in 1973, he was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.  He then joined the Air Transport Association and became senior vice president for public affairs, a position he held until his death.

Mr. Henkin is survived by his wife, the former Hannah Ronen, of Chevy Chase, Maryland; a son, Doron, of Philadelphia, two daughters, Leora Feldman of Durham, North Carolina, and Tamar, a student at Duke University.

A memorial service will be held at Fort Myer, Virginia, at 3 P.M. Thursday.  Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

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