Robert S. McNamara
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert S. McNamara, the cerebral secretary of defense who was vilified for prosecuting America's most controversial war and then devoted himself to helping the world's poorest nations, died Monday. He was 93.

McNamara died at 5:30 a.m. at his home, his wife Diana told The Associated Press. She said he had been in failing health for some time.

For all his healing efforts, McNamara was fundamentally associated with the Vietnam War, "McNamara's war," the country's most disastrous foreign venture, the only American war to end in abject withdrawal rather than victory.

Known as a policymaker with a fixation for statistical analysis, McNamara was recruited to run the Pentagon by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 from the presidency of the Ford Motor Co. He stayed seven years, longer than anyone since the job's creation in 1947.

His association with Vietnam became intensely personal. Even his son, as a Stanford University student, protested against the war while his father was running it. At Harvard, McNamara once had to flee a student mob through underground utility tunnels. Critics mocked McNamara mercilessly; they made much of the fact that his middle name was "Strange."

After leaving the Pentagon on the verge of a nervous breakdown, McNamara became president of the World Bank and devoted evangelical energies to the belief that improving life in rural communities in developing countries was a more promising path to peace than the buildup of arms and armies.

A private person, McNamara for many years declined to write his memoirs, to lay out his view of the war and his side in his quarrels with his generals. In the early 1990s he began to open up. He told Time magazine in 1991 that he did not think the bombing of North Vietnam — the biggest bombing campaign in history up to that time — would work but he went along with it "because we had to try to prove it would not work, number one, and (because) other people thought it would work."

Finally, in 1993, after the Cold War ended, he undertook to write his memoirs because some of the lessons of Vietnam were applicable to the post-Cold War period "odd as though it may seem."

"In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam" appeared in 1995. McNamara disclosed that by 1967 he had deep misgivings about Vietnam — by then he had lost faith in America's capacity to prevail over a guerrilla insurgency that had driven the French from the same jungled countryside.

Despite those doubts, he had continued to express public confidence that the application of enough American firepower would cause the Communists to make peace. In that period, the number of U.S. casualties — dead, missing and wounded — went from 7,466 to over 100,000.

"We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of our country. But we were wrong. We were terribly wrong," McNamara, then 78, told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the book's release.

The best-selling mea culpa renewed the national debate about the war and prompted bitter criticism against its author. "Where was he when we needed him?" a Boston Globe editorial asked. A New York Times editorial referred to McNamara as offering the war's dead only a "prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late."

McNamara wrote that he and others had not asked the five most basic questions: "Was it true that the fall of South Vietnam would trigger the fall of all Southeast Asia? Would that constitute a grave threat to the West's security? What kind of war — conventional or guerrilla — might develop? Could we win it with U.S. troops fighting alongside the South Vietnamese? Should we not know the answers to all these questions before deciding whether to commit troops?

He discussed similar themes in the 2003 documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara." With the U.S. in the first year of the war in Iraq, it became a popular and timely art-house attraction and won the Oscar for best documentary feature.

The Iraq war, with its similarities to Vietnam, at times brought up McNamara's name, in many cases in comparison with another unpopular defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld. McNamara was among former secretaries of defense and state who met twice with President Bush in 2006 to discuss Iraq war policies.

In the Kennedy administration, McNamara was a key figure in both the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis 18 months later. The crisis was the closest the world came to a nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States.

McNamara served as the World Bank president for 12 years. He tripled its loans to developing countries and changed its emphasis from grandiose industrial projects to rural development.

After retiring in 1981, he championed the causes of nuclear disarmament and aid by the richest nation for the world's poorest. He became a global elder statesman.

McNamara's trademarks were his rimless glasses and slicked down hair and his reliance on quantitative analysis to reach conclusions, calmly promulgated in a husky voice.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press
Published in The Washington Post on Jul. 6, 2009.
Memories & Condolences
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89 entries
October 22, 2015
mary mcnamra
June 9, 2015
Bob was a whiz kid, back in his youth
unk unk
October 28, 2014
This special person will learn war no more (Isa. 2:4) and is surely a loss to us all. We are inspired by the many astounding accomplishments. May the family have peace we cherish the special memories.
July 13, 2012
such a wise individual one of the smartest guys ive seen. i am 36 years old and this is the kind of an example of man that i look up to! thank u mr. mcnamara for sharing ur thoughts and views on ur decsions u made in ur life as one of our nations best sec. of defense!!!!!! may your wisdom keep inspiring!
johnny loper
April 4, 2011
To one of the few who would share his reflections, accept his failures, but give hope to others so that we might learn from them
Siobhan Cokell
February 23, 2011
I wonder what he would say and do today on this earth?
November 11, 2010
Barbara McNamara daughter of Daniel
McNamara Originally from Newfoundland Canada offers condolences.
God Bless Mr.McNamara's family
May 29, 2010
The McNamaras of Grand Rapids offer condolences
November 20, 2009
For Robert...


Do not weep for me when I no longer dwell among the wonders of the earth; for my larger self is free, and my soul rejoices on the other side of pain...on the other side of darkness.

Do not weep for me, for I am a ray of sunshine that touches your skin, a tropical breeze upon your face, the hush of joy within your heart and the innocence of babes in mothers arms.

I am the hope in a darkened night. And, in your hour of need, I will be there to comfort you. I will share your tears, your joys, your fears, your disappointments and your triumphs.

Do not weep for me, for I am cradled
in the arms of God. I walk with the angels, and hear the music beyond the stars.

Do not weep for me, for I am within you;
I am peace, love, I am a soft wind that caresses the flowers. I am the calm that follows a raging storm. I am an autumns leaf that floats among the garden of God, and I am pure white snow that softly falls upon your hand.

Do not weep for me, for I shall never die, as long as you remember me...
with a smile and a sigh.

© Joe Fazio Joe Fazio
July 30, 2009
07/30/09 Dear Margy, I'm so sorry for the loss of your father.I'm sure that in the days to come everyone in the family will be at peace with his passing. God Bless you all.Most sincerely,Marilyn Tobias Weaver
Marilyn Tobias Weaver
July 29, 2009
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
July 27, 2009
Rest in Peace.
Anthony Stonehouse
July 26, 2009
My sympathy to the McNamara family.
His service to the United States in war and to the world for helping the starving millions.
Richard O. Bacon, Palos Park, Ill.
July 26, 2009
Often vilified because of the war, Robert S. McNamara turned out to be a wonderful servant of God...and the world.
Our sympathy to his family.
Richard O. Bacon, Palos Park, Ill.
July 23, 2009
Be proud of this man. He learned lessons and had the moral fiber to admit when he believed he was wrong. Not very many people could or would do that. I could never do the job he tried so hard to do. God Bless him and may God give his family peace and comfort during this time of grief.
Cynthia Davis
July 18, 2009
My condolences to The McNamara family.
My God take care your loved one and May you find comfort in your memories of this great man for all he has done for our country I thank him for My freedom that he fought for. Time will heal all and may you find peace in your memories. God Bless
Bordoli family
July 17, 2009
Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Rowan Hammons
July 16, 2009
God bless you Sir. Msgt Patrick Mooney Ret
July 16, 2009
My condolences to Mr. MacNamara's family on your loss.
July 16, 2009
Theresa Sheafe
July 16, 2009
This country will forever be great as long as there are freethinking,
conscientious, and brave men such as your father who are
not afraid to follow the courage in their God given souls.
July 15, 2009
God bless you Mr. McNamara. You fought a good fight as a man and as a patriot!

May your family be comforted by the thoughts and prayers of strangers and friends alike during this difficult time.
An American
July 14, 2009
A real American Patriot.
July 14, 2009
when somebody dies it is very hard to cope with. i have lost people in my family to death to so i know how it feels. i hope that everyone in the family will cope with his death.
dion sangster
July 14, 2009
dion sangster
July 13, 2009
A Great, Great Man...
Iris Brand
July 13, 2009
There are few great men left to serve our country. Mr. McNamara was one of them and we appreciate him and his honesty. To the family, especially.- - May your memories bring you comfort now and Peace in the days ahead. God bless.
July 13, 2009
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Jon Lowder
July 13, 2009
My condolences McNamara family. Its nice to know that some people want to see a change for the positive and try to make that a reality. Mr. McNamara tried to make things better for others. God promises such a change. Revelation 21:4 says, "And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
July 13, 2009
Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to you Mrs. McNamara and the entire family. His contributions will never be forgotten. I will always remember how distinguished Secretary McNamara looked in those glasses. May God bless and keep you in his care.
Matrilyn Echols
July 12, 2009
Our country suffers a great loss upon the death of Mr. McNamara. I will always treasure the response he made to a letter I sent him in 2004 after viewing "The Fog of War". What a courageous man he was to admit the choices he made when Secretary of Defense. May he rest in peace.
Sharon Moore
July 12, 2009
Rest In Peace Mr McNamara
Kevin Magistrelli
July 12, 2009
The World has lost a brilliant mind, the Country has lost a loyal servant, and I will never have the pleasure of sitting and speaking with one of my heroes, Robert McNamara. I know, he knew, and we all know the President is the person who bears the responsibilities of war. Sec. McNamara loyally absorbed that criticism for decades, especially in the case of Kennedy. A man that he clearly loved and showed as he shed tears some 40 years later. Sec. McNamara is one of the few public servants in history to have genuinely expressed sorrow and admitted mistakes in governing. And for that he earned my admiration. Thank you Secretary. Finally you can rest in peace.
Anthony Tipton
July 11, 2009
It was 1967 and as a 16 yr old visiting New York City for the first time I saw then Secretary McNamara and his lovely wife exiting the theater of a play and he was very gracious, smiled and signed my Playbill, of which I still have today. Thank You for your service to our country and may you Rest in Eternal Peace sir.
Patricia Page
July 11, 2009
My deepest sympathy. Bob and I met when he was President of Ford and a Director of Scott Paper. We spent two hours together that changed my life. He endorsed me to Scotts President for international work. Many years later, as President of Hershey International, Orville Freeman got us together for a two hour chat. I admired Bob greatly. He was brillant, sincere, and dynamic. I will miss his friendship.
Richard Marcks
July 11, 2009
McNamara and his documentary "The Fog of War" made me less righteous, less dogmatic... We are so quick to judge, and this man bore the brunt of that judgement without the benefit of understanding of the enormous complexity of that time. The lesson is not that he was wrong, but that he was human, and with nobility and respect for his Presidents, his office, and his country, he carried out his duty even though he himself was conflicted. To ask him to regret his decisions, so painful for so many, is still too simplistic, and he seemed to say as much in his documentary. I am hopeful that his life ultimately was satisfying to him, that he found peace and satisfaction in his life. His contributions after Vietnam are hard to quantify relative to the pain of Vietnam, and thus are too often overlooked as to their impact and benefits to so many. He was an extraordinary human, and I hope that he and his family know that many of us hold him in such high regard.
albert oaten
July 11, 2009
I am very sorry for your loss
Robert Lay
July 10, 2009
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
July 10, 2009
WE thank God for the life and work of Robert McNamara. May he rest in peace.
Patricia Hogan
July 10, 2009
"The Fog of War" was a phenomenal attempt by Robert McNamara to explain how a country at war reacts, it was heartwarming when he spoke of President Kennedy, his family, his career. I send deepest condolences to the family of a man who served our country during a time of need and should be held in hight esteem. May Robert walk amongst the angels and smile down on a country he loved!
Denise Quinton
July 10, 2009
My you and your family keep Robert close in your hearts forever,God promise that he will wipe out every tear from our eyes,and death will be no more,neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.The former things have passed away.
July 10, 2009
i remember him well,i had 2 brothers in vietnam .he is in heaven now.judy
judy conard
July 9, 2009
I am no one of consequence. Mr. McNamara wielded the hands of fate. Where dull edges of naivety of youth produced ill-effects, reflection and maturity made more than amends. The moral compass of something more pushed to progress. Always, the best intentions. Not always understood. Our nation has lost a treasure. His learning must influence tomorrow's of greater promise. My condolences to family and friends.
Micah Greene
July 9, 2009
To the family of Robert Mcnamara,
I was privleaged to meet this GREAT man with my wonderful friends Phyllis Coors and Dawn Denzer who adored him.
He'll be missed greatly
Rex Malone
Denver, Colorado
Rex Malone
July 9, 2009
I fought in Veit Nam,My son now is in Iraq for the second tour of duty.I remember Mcnamara and General Westmoeland.I didn't believe in the war then or now.The last years of his life was so productive.GodBless his family.We learn so late in life,when other men are doing our fighting for us.Its easy to send someone to war and watch,but takes a big man to admit he's wrong.I'll see him in Heaven
Dusty Rhoades
July 9, 2009
Richard H. Herrick
July 9, 2009
"The Fog of War" video should be viewed regularly and repeatedly by every U.S. President. The wisdom Robert McNamara offers to leaders is impeccable.
Dan Grangaard
July 9, 2009
To Diana and the McNamara family, my deepest simpathies for your loss.
Michael Yaney
July 8, 2009
Robert McNamara was key among just a handful of individuals (including JFK and his brother Bobby, a Soviet Naval Officer called Vasiliy Arkhipov and, ultimately, even Khrushchev himself) who employed reason and persuasion to prevail over their peers and prevent what may well have resulted in the annihilation of humanity during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Mr. McNamara, the entire world owes you a debt of gratitude. May you finally rest in peace...
Ricardo Valderrama
July 8, 2009
In memory of Robert S McNamara, You were a big influence on my life and always will be, you were the only public servant of distinction that admitted your wrongs, if more people showed your humility the world would be a better place. Farewell Robert McNamara, and Thank you
July 8, 2009
Mr. McNamara was one of the very few who admitted he was wrong about Vietnam and tried to make amends in what ever way he could to help others in need. Too bad other people involved didn't do the same.Rest in peace Mr. McNamara. My condolences to the family.
Rhonda Powers
July 8, 2009
May he long be remembered for his contributions to his country and the world. May his capacity for humanity become his most distinctive legacy.
chris cameron
July 8, 2009
God bless you Sir. Thank you for your service to your country. To your family, may they find great comfort in knowing you were the statesman our country needed at a very critical time. Very respectfully yours, a Vietnam veteran.
Russell Berry
July 7, 2009
One of the Best and the Brightest-maybe the Brightest. Like Robert Kennedy, I know I shall not see his like again

Rick Kay
July 7, 2009
To The McNamara Family-

I worked in the Audio/Visual Department of the LBJ Library while attending the University of Texas. I spent two days assisting Secretary McNamara with his book In Retrospect and was fortunate enough to suggest a photo for the book from our he eventually put on the cover. Months later, I sent him a copy of the book and he was kind enough to write a gracious, detailed inscription to me.

Both in person and later from DC, he was a thoughtful, generous person who lacked hubris. I feel honored to have helped in a small way with his attempt to explain and clarify the Vietnam war.

He served his nation, and the world, with honor. For this, he deserves to be remembered as a brilliant, patriotic American.
Rick King
July 7, 2009
Please accept my deepest sympathies. Robert S. McNamara was a great man. He has been a great personal inspiration to me and many others. Everyone has heard what a 'whiz' he was. He was also a man of wonderful sensitivity and determination. He sought to engage the past and learn from it to create a better future for us all. May he finally rest. He will be dearly missed. I hope that your fond memories of him bring you some consolation in this time of loss.
Travis Phillips
July 7, 2009
My husband was a 20 year AF veteran who had great respect for Mr. McNamara.
Lord, we ask that you bless this family and let them know that their loved one has not left them, he just awaits them in a better place.

Ann Robbins, Prattville, AL
July 7, 2009
To the family, look to Jesus, the Comforter of all for strength during this time. The Word of God says that He blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.(Matthew 5:4).
July 7, 2009
I want my History students to not only read about Robert McNamara when we study the Vietnam Era, but to watch "The Fog of War" so they hear his own words on the war and the accompanying public mood. For high school students, Viet Nam is ancient History. He certainly lived a long and interesting life since so many of his colleagues have been gone for many years. He was the last of the "Best and the Brightest".

Mary Barrett
River Forest, IL
July 7, 2009
To the Mcnamara family,

A great American and a true patriot. Rest in peace. May the memories bring you comfort.
Yolanda Valdez-Perez
July 7, 2009
My father worked for Mr. McNamara, years ago, and always spoke so highly of his patriotism, and love of country. He was the true government servant. I enjoyed hearing about the history being made as it was happening. A great loss to our nation. Hopefully I can convey the moments I heard about to our two Marines as they begin their government service.
Sue McCarl
July 7, 2009
Maybe the true N° One amongst " the best and the brightest", Michel Meessen, Belgium.
Michel Meessen
July 7, 2009
A great American and a true patriot. RIP friend,Bradford Reynolds (Baltimore,Maryland).
July 7, 2009
Another maker of history forever gone.
Mary Ryan
July 7, 2009
My deepest condolences to the McNamara family. A great American was lost and his love for his country can be forever seen by publication.

A great American who served his country well.

Henry Vinson
Henry Vinson
July 7, 2009
To sum up your life would take volumes,may I just say, thank you for all you have done for our country and now, rest in peace.
Henryk Zaleski USN-Ret
July 7, 2009
To the Mcnamara Family my sincere condolences, Farewell to a great American and international statesman, RIP.
mo pepper
July 6, 2009
Best Harvard Business School alumnus ever.
Andrea (HBS Class of 2009)
July 6, 2009
God Bless the Mcnamara family and God Bless Mr. Mcnamara.
louis carwell
July 6, 2009
To the McNamara Family,

I came to admire Mr. Mcnamara through his books, interviews, "Fog of War," and the LBJ telephone tapes. He often displayed insight and a sense of humor, and was always engaging.

My condolences on your loss.
Leesa Sopjes
July 6, 2009
Our country has lost a great and wise man. His contribution to our nation, and humanity will be missed. My sympathies to his family.
Robert Price
July 6, 2009
July 6, 2009
McNamara Family
My personal thoughts and prayers are with you. I had the honor of working for and with him as both a young army officer and then with DOD as an attorney-advisor when he established the elite DCASR agency. He was a leader of men and brilliant. May he rest in peace.
Lloyd zane Remick Esq.
July 6, 2009
Only a person with a very deep insight to his own humanity and an exeptional degree of courage would have created the opportunity to reconsider his involvement in so many critical situations,

May he rest in peace,
carlos illsley
July 6, 2009
After seeing 'The Fog of War' I admired Mr. McNamara. Jane Hess
Jane Hess
July 6, 2009
The 270L/494L SPO knew his presence, be it in the background. And I did his bidding, then and later. Goodbye boss. Goodbye Cold War. Former 1Lt. Robert J Baran, officer and chief engineer.
Robert Baran
July 6, 2009
McNamara Family,
My deepest condolences for your loss, I was too young to know of him when he was in office but I recently watched the movie JFK and became aquainted with him. I have read of his many accomplishments, how amazing!!!! I wondered why there had never been anything written on the JFK assasination and the controversy surrounding it. He was so lucky to have worked along side a great president!! May god bless your family. My sympathy,
Carla Holmes
July 6, 2009
Thanks for your military service during WWII.
Ralph Kelley
July 6, 2009
Hopefully the lessons he learned will be considered by others. His example as a leader, to recognize his mistakes are admirable. May he be forgiven. For his work at the head of the World Bank many are grateful. May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in knowing that there are those who recognize his humanity and admire his courage in recognizing his mistakes and making an honest effort at amendment. There are few men who are able to do this. These are great men.
Mario Kossatz
July 6, 2009
McNamara Family,
My deepest condolences and sympathy to your loss. Even as a ten year old in Southern Maine, Mr. McNamara was a name that I heard mentioned many times by my Father in reference to the proposed closing of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. As a result, I held Mr. McNamara in high regard ever since. I have followed his career and listened to his words many times. It is with great sorrow that I see a powerhouse of a man pass.
My sympathy,
Larry Hall
Larry Hall
July 6, 2009
i was too young to know of him when he was in the whitehouse but i saw fog of war and was so impressed by his intelligence and honesty and heart. the world could really use him right now. it's a sad day.
Suzy B
July 6, 2009
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Thelma Cook
July 6, 2009
SEMPER FI, rest in peace.
R Wyllie
July 6, 2009
May you rest in peace.
Lawrence Wang
July 6, 2009
It was an honor to have you visit us at McConnell AFB, KS on Veteran's Day 1967 with President Johnson.

An Air Force Vietnam veteran who was lucky to serve you.

God bless you and your family.
Mike Dugan
July 6, 2009
Thank you for your service for our freedom.
July 6, 2009
Interesting person in history.
July 6, 2009
I recall my mother go on about you and the war as a kid (born 1967), she really hated that war and all involved (not the soldiers-just the politicos). But she really thought what you did after the conflict and your dedication to Christ's path and helping the countries in need. She respected that as I do. God Bless you and your family and may they have our Lord's comfort at this sad time.
July 6, 2009
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