Hagel: Robin Williams was ‘true friend’ of troops

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday praised the late actor and comedian Robin Williams, calling him a “true friend” to U.S. service members.

Williams, a veteran comic and Academy Award-winning actor who battled addiction and depression for years, was found dead on Monday in California. He was 63.

“The entire Department of Defense community mourns the loss of Robin Williams. Robin was a gifted actor and comedian, but he was also a true friend and supporter of our troops,” Hagel said in a statement.

Williams participated in several USO tours to entertain troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“From entertaining thousands of servicemen and women in war zones, to his philanthropy that helped veterans struggling with hidden wounds of war, he was a loyal and compassionate advocate for all who serve this nation in uniform,” Hagel added.

“He will be dearly missed by the men and women of DOD — so many of whom were personally touched by his humor and generosity,” he said.

President Obama on Monday also paid tribute to Williams, noting his many notable performances on television and the big screen. “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind.”

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday also praised him, saying that Williams “wasn’t just a huge creative genius, but a caring, involved citizen.”

“I’ll always be grateful for his personal friendship and his support for the causes that we both cared about deeply,” he added.

Dozens of lawmakers also took to Twitter immediately following the news to mourn the loss and express their condolences.