Vietnam-era Defense Secretary McNamara dies

Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, 93, died in his sleep early Monday at his Washington home, according to media reports.

As secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, McNamara oversaw America’s growing involvement in the Vietnam War, a legacy that made him deeply unpopular throughout the country.

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First appointed by President Kennedy in 1961 after a brief stint atop the Ford Motor Co., McNamara quickly became immersed in America’s escalating involvement in Vietnam. When Kennedy took office, just 500 Americans were in the Southeast Asian nation; by the time McNamara left the Pentagon, in 1968, there were more than 500,000.

He announced his departure in November 1967 and left office in February 1968, following high-profile disagreements with Johnson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

His tenure was chronicled in the 2003 Academy Award-winning documentary "The Fog of War," which leaned heavily on hours of interviews with McNamara about his own recollections of Vietnam.

After serving at the Pentagon, McNamara headed the World Bank for 13 years, until 1981. He focused the bank’s lending efforts on reducing poverty and increased lending from about $1 billion a year to about $12 billion, according to a World Bank biography.

A veteran of World War II, McNamara served in the Army Air Forces in the Office of Statistical Control.

He is survived by three children and his second wife, whom he married in 2004.