J. William Middendorf

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J. William Middendorf II
John William Middendorf (1969).jpg
John William Middendorf (1969)
United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
April 8, 1974 – January 20, 1977
Preceded by John Warner
Succeeded by W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1924-09-22) September 22, 1924 (age 90)
Baltimore, Maryland
Political party Republican
Alma mater College of the Holy Cross
Harvard College
Occupation diplomat

John William Middendorf II (born September 22, 1924) is a former Republican United States diplomat and Secretary of the Navy.

Early career[edit]

John William Middendorf II received a Bachelor of Naval Science degree from College of the Holy Cross in 1945. In World War II he served in the Navy (1944-1946) as engineer officer and navigator aboard USS LCS(L) 53 during the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945. He was discharged from the Navy in 1946.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1947, where he was a member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and the Owl Club. He also graduated from New York University's Graduate School of Business Administration, receiving an M.B.A. in 1954.

He became an investment banker and in 1963 in partnership with Austen Colgate formed his own company, Middendorf, Colgate and Company (with a seat on the New York Stock Exchange).

An early member of Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign, he served as treasurer of that campaign, and continued to have the same duties with the Republican National Committee from 1965–1969.

Government service[edit]

Shortly after taking office in 1969, Predident Richard Nixon appointed Middendorf as United States Ambassador to the Netherlands. Middendorf served in this position from July 1969 until June 1973.

After returning to the U.S., Middendorf was appointed, despite opposition from Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger,[1] as the Under Secretary of the Navy. On April 8, 1974 Middendorf was confirmed as Secretary of the Navy and served until January 20, 1977. During his time as the Secretary of the Navy, he oversaw the creation of the Marine Corps Marathon, and the trophy for the winner is named in his honor. He was one of the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Later career[edit]

After leaving government service, Middendorf became President and Chief Executive Officer of Financial General Bankshares from 1977-1981. In 1981 he was named Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of ambassador. From 1985 to 1987 he served as United States Ambassador to the European Union.

Other pursuits and interests[edit]

In 2006 Middendorf published a book describing his work with the Goldwater campaign. Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater's Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement details how Goldwater's campaign became the foundation of the modern Conservative movement. In 2011 he published his autobiography, Potomac Fever.

He is a prolific composer of symphonies (including the Holland Symphony, presented to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands on the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne) and 100 marches.

Ambassador Middendorf is a member of the board of directors of the International Republican Institute.[2] He is a member of the board of trustees for the Heritage Foundation, an influential Washington, D.C. based public policy research institute.[3]

He is also a member of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the Revolution and the Naval Order of the United States.

Honors and awards[edit]

Decorations and medals from the United States Government[edit]

Foreign orders, decorations and medals[edit]

Other awards[edit]

Middendorf has received the "Edwin Franko Goldman Award" from the American Bandmasters Association and is a member of the American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP). Other honors include:

  • Hudson River Museum Honoree, Hudson River Museum, 2009
  • Maritime Security Lifetime Excellence Award, 2002
  • Arleigh Burke Award – Navy League of the United States, 1998
  • Ludwig von Mises Free Market Award – 1985
  • Distinguished Service Award, Purdue University Band
  • Gold Medal, The Netherlands Society of the Sons of American Revolution
  • Medal of Honor, Midwest National Band and Orchestra Association
  • Alumnus of the Year, New York University Graduate School of Business
  • Association of Harvard Clubs of American Award (Music) (Keogh Award)
  • NYU Eugene Keogh Award for Distinguished Public Service (1989)
  • American Friends of Turkey Leadership Award, 1989
  • Presidential Physical Fitness Award, 1990
  • Distinguished Patriot Award, SAR of State of New York, 1975
  • Award of Merit, Art League of Virginia (Portrait of Del), 1996
  • U.S. Olympic Committee Gold Shield Award
  • Gold Medal, Holland Society of New York, 1996
  • American Bandmasters Association Edwin Franko Goldman Award
  • American Music Award, Harvard Clubs

Honorary degrees[edit]


  • J. William Middendorf II (October 23, 2006). A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater's Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-04573-0. 


  1. ^ Woodward and Bernstein, The Final Days, p. 189 (New York: Avon Books, 1976)
  2. ^ International Republican Institute web site, accessed July 16, 2010.
  3. ^ Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees, heritage.org

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Frank P. Sanders
Under Secretary of the Navy
August 3, 1973 – June 20, 1974
Succeeded by
David S. Potter
Preceded by
John Warner
United States Secretary of the Navy
April 8, 1974 – January 20, 1977
Succeeded by
W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William R. Tyler
United States Ambassador to the Netherlands
July 9, 1969 – June 10, 1973
Succeeded by
Kingdon Gould, Jr.
Preceded by
George S. Vest
United States Ambassador to the European Union
1985 – 1987
Succeeded by
Alfred H. Kingon