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John S.D. Eisenhower, military historian and president's son, dies at 91

  • 12434630f8f79c2a460f6a706700ecd8.jpg

    FILE - In this Sunday, May 22, 2005, file photo, John S.D. Eisenhower, left, receives an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Washington College President Baird Tipson during commencement exercises in Chestertown, Md. isenhower, the son of a five-star general turned president who forged his own career in the U.S. Army and then chronicled the history of the American military in numerous books, died Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. He was 91. (AP Photo/Star Democrat, Charlie Campbell, File) (The Associated Press)

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    FILE - In this Tuesday, March 27, 1990, file photo, U.S. President George H. Bush, standing, addresses a White House luncheon commemorating former President Dwight. D. Eisenhower's 100th birthday. At right is John S.D. Eisenhower, the former president's son. John S.D. Eisenhower, the son of a five-star general turned president who forged his own career in the U.S. Army and then chronicled the history of the American military in numerous books, died Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. He was 91. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma, File) (The Associated Press)

John S.D. Eisenhower, the son of a five-star general turned president who forged his own career in the U.S. Army and then chronicled the history of the American military in numerous books, died Saturday. He was 91.

Eisenhower lived on Maryland's Eastern Shore in the community of Trappe, Md. In a statement, his family gave no cause of death.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Eisenhower "a true patriot" and praised him as "an accomplished soldier, diplomat and author."

John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower was born in Denver on Aug. 3, 1922, the second son of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mamie Doud Eisenhower. Their first child had died of scarlet fever the year before at age 3.

Eisenhower grew up as his father rose in the ranks of the Army. During World War II, the senior Eisenhower became supreme commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces in 1943 and then general of the Army with five-star rank. He was elected president in a landslide in 1952 and again in 1956.

Both father and son graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the son on June 6, 1944 — the day his father oversaw the Allied invasion of Europe. He spent 35 years in the Army, including 19 years on active duty and several years in the Reserve. He retired with the rank of brigadier general.

"My dad being an Army officer, I was just born to it," Eisenhower said in a C-SPAN interview in 1998. "I was raised in a military manner, and it was a given that Army brats went to West Point, so I went to West Point in 1941. And being in the military has been my life."

Eisenhower taught English for three years at West Point, then volunteered for service during the Korean War and later became a battalion commander.

Eisenhower served on his father's White House staff for the last few years of his administration and later helped his father write his post-presidential memoirs. The younger Eisenhower began writing his own books, then served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium during the first years of the Nixon administration. He soon returned to writing, focusing on the military's relationship with government and politics.

"I can't get away from the military," Eisenhower told C-SPAN. "That's my readership. And I don't think I want to."

His books included "The Bitter Woods: The Battle of the Bulge" and "So Far from God: The U.S. War With Mexico, 1846-1848." He also wrote a memoir about his father, "General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence."

His marriage to Barbara Eisenhower ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife, Joanne, and his four children: daughters Anne, Susan and Mary, and son David, who married President Richard Nixon's daughter Julie.

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