The 14th Secretary of the Air Force, Verne Orr, died Nov. 27 at age 92 of complications from old age, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Orr, who had served in the Navy during World War II and left the Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander in 1951, worked in his family’s car dealership and an investment business before being tapped by then-Governor Ronald Reagan to serve as California director of motor vehicles and serving in other state positions, including director of finance. He worked on Reagan’s Presidential Campaign Committee and served as deputy director of the President-elect’s transition team. After becoming Air Force Secretary in February 1981, the former Navy man, who had no aviation experience, ushered in the return of the Air Force’s B-1 bomber program and the beginning of the B-2 bomber program. At age 88, Orr would receive a doctorate, focusing his 180-page dissertation on the B-1B.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.