Ash Carter, who served as defence secretary during the final two years of the Obama administration and removed a ban on transgender people serving in the military, died at the age of 68.

Carter died on Tuesday after having a heart attack on Monday night, according to a statement from Harvard University’s Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf. The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the university had been directed by Carter.

Also read: Ash Carter, former US defense secretary, dies aged 68

Who was Ash Carter?

Ashton Baldwin Carter was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 24, 1954. William Stanley Carter Jr., his father, was the department chairman at Abington Memorial Hospital for 30 years. He was a World War II veteran, Navy neurologist, and psychiatrist.

He has an English teacher for a mother named Anne Baldwin Carter. Children’s book author Cynthia DeFelice is one of his three siblings. He was referred to as Ash and Stoobie when he was younger.

Carter was raised in Abington, Pennsylvania, on Wheatsheaf Lane. He lost his first job at the age of 11 at a car wash in Philadelphia because he was “wise-mouthing the owner.”

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From February 2015 to January 2017, Ashton Baldwin Carter, a military-civilian American figure, held the position of 25th secretary of defence. Later, he directed the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs.

Carter started off as a physicist. He switched careers to public policy after a brief stint working as an analyst for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. In 1984, he enrolled at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he later rose to the position of faculty chair for international and global affairs.

Carter held the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Strategy throughout President Clinton’s first administration, overseeing nuclear weapons, strategic affairs, and policy toward the former Soviet states, from 1993 to 1996.

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Initially serving as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics during President Obama’s first term, he later assumed the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense until December 2013.

He succeeded Chuck Hagel as defence secretary in February 2015, holding the position through the end of the Obama administration. His ending of the ban on transgender military officers, which was in existence for just one year before the Trump administration reintroduced it, was a landmark action during his time at the department. In 2016, Carter granted women equal access to all military jobs and positions.

For the first time in American history, women who meet the necessary requirements would be permitted to serve in military branches that had previously only been accessible to men, such as infantry, armour, reconnaissance, and select special operations groups.

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Carter received the DOD Distinguished Public Service Medal five times in recognition of his contributions to national security. For his contributions to intelligence, he had also been given the Defense Intelligence Medal and the CJCS Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award. In addition to writing more than 100 papers on management, physics, technology, and national security, Carter was the author or co-author of 11 books.

Stephanie (DeLeeuw) Carter was Carter’s second wife. He had two children, Ava and Will, with Clayton Spencer, the ninth president of Bates College, with whom he had previously been married.

At the age of 68, Carter died from a heart attack at his Boston home on October 24, 2022.