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'So Sudden and So Devastating': Obama Administration Secretary of Defense Dies of 'Cardiac Event'

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Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, 68, died Monday after a sudden cardiac event.

Carter served in former President Barack Obama’s administration from 2015 to 2017. He most recently served as a public policy professor and as the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.

Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf released a statement Tuesday morning with the surprising news of Carter’s untimely passing.

“It is with deep and profound sorrow that I write to inform you that our colleague, teacher, and friend Ash Carter passed away yesterday evening after suffering a heart attack,” Elmendorf wrote. “This loss is so sudden and so devastating.”

Carter’s family also released a statement, saying he’d died after a “sudden cardiac event,” according to CNBC.

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“[Carter] devoted his professional life to the national security of the United States and teaching students about international affairs,” the statement said. “He was a beloved husband, father, mentor, and friend. His sudden loss will be felt by all who knew him.

“While he was known for his keen understanding of military technology, nuclear weapons, and international affairs, Secretary Carter loved nothing more than spending time with the troops, making frequent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit U.S forces.”

According to Reuters, the family’s statement added: “Carter always set politics aside; he served presidents of both parties over five administrations, holding multiple positions within the Department of Defense.”

Carter’s family also highlighted his passion for teaching at Harvard, where he was revered by many. “He believed that his most profound legacy would be the thousands of students he taught with the hope that they would make the world a better and safer place.”

Tributes for Carter and his family poured in across social media on Tuesday morning, with many of his former colleagues, friends, family, and supporters boasting his many accomplishments both in government service and in the private sector.

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Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institute highlighted other initiatives Carter was instrumental in leading.

“Shocked by this news. Prof Ash Carter was an incredible friend and mentor, who gave his all to the next generation of students and leaders at HKS. Thank you for your decades of service, ABC,” one of Carter’s former students tweeted.

According to The New York Times, Carter is survived by his wife, Stephanie, and his children, Ava and Will.

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Ryan Ledendecker is a freelance journalist and writer. He began reporting news and writing commentary during the 2014 Ferguson riots. Prior to that, he worked as a web editor and columnist for an award-winning local newspaper.
Ryan Ledendecker is a freelance writer covering politics and breaking news. He previously worked as a columnist and web editor for an award-winning local newspaper. When he's not writing, he's honing his competitive BBQ skills. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Truth Social.
St. Louis, Missouri
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