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Thomas C. Reed

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Thomas Reed
6th Director of the National Reconnaissance Office
In office
August 9, 1976 – April 7, 1977
PresidentGerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Preceded byJames W. Plummer
Succeeded byHans Mark
United States Secretary of the Air Force
In office
January 2, 1976 – April 6, 1977
PresidentGerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Preceded byJohn L. McLucas
Succeeded byJohn C. Stetson
Personal details
Born(1934-03-01)March 1, 1934
New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 11, 2024(2024-02-11) (aged 89)
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationCornell University (BS)
University of Southern California (MS)

Thomas Care Reed (March 1, 1934 – February 11, 2024) was an American politician who served as the 11th Secretary of the Air Force from January 2, 1976 to April 6, 1977 under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.[1] Previously he was a senior aide to California Governor Ronald Reagan.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Reed was born in New York City, N.Y., on March 1, 1934.[4] He attended Deerfield Academy, and then received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, graduating first in his class in 1956. Reed was elected into the Sphinx Head Society during his senior year.

As an undergraduate, he was enrolled in Cornell's Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program and was the highest-ranking officer, cadet colonel, during his senior year. He was designated a distinguished military graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation.

Military career[edit]

Reed began active duty with the Air Force in November 1956, and served until 1959 as technical project officer for the Minuteman Re-Entry Vehicle System with the Air Force's Ballistic Missile Division. While on this assignment, he attended the University of Southern California during off-duty hours and earned a master of science degree in electrical engineering.

In 1959, he was assigned to the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory of the University of California, engaged in thermonuclear weapons physics. He was released from active duty with the Air Force in May 1961, but he rejoined the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory as a civilian for the 1962 test series, continuing there as a consultant until 1967.

Business career[edit]

In 1962, Reed organized Supercon Ltd. of Houston, Texas, as its managing partner. Supercon developed and produced alloys which were superconducting at cryogenic temperatures.

While maintaining an interest in Supercon Ltd., Reed organized the Quaker Hill Development Corporation at San Rafael, California, in 1965, and served as its treasurer, president and chairman. Quaker Hill has agricultural, recreational and construction projects in California and Colorado.

In the early 1970s, he and another Cornell University alumni, Frank Woods, partnered in the development of a ski resort in Breckenridge, Colorado, and began growing wine grapes in Sonoma County. In the mid-1970s, the two opened the Clos du Bois winery. By the late 1980s it was selling more than 200,000 cases a year. In 1988, Reed and Woods sold the winery to the Hiram Walker liquor company,[5] for about $40 million.[6]

Political career[edit]

Reed was also active in the political world. He was an organizer for Ronald Reagan's first campaign for governor of California in 1966. He helped finance Governor Reagan's first unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1968, when Reagan competed with Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination. Reed established a national network of political operatives and hired F. Clifton White, the noted political strategist, to guide the effort. Reed managed Reagan's successful gubernatorial re-election campaign in 1970. In 1972, Reed performed as a national operative for the Nixon presidential re-election drive.

During Gerald Ford's presidency, Reed was appointed an assistant to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense in 1973, and was appointed director of Telecommunications and Command and Control Systems in February 1974. Reed served as the 11th Secretary of the Air Force from January 2, 1976 to April 6, 1977, leaving at the beginning of Jimmy Carter's presidency.[1]

After Reagan began President in 1980, Reed served as a vice chairman of the newly created National Commission on Strategic Forces. Reed's financial dealings in 1981 as a private businessman were investigated for insider trading by a federal prosecutor in New York City, and he resigned as President Reagan's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs in March 1983.[7] After a jury trial in 1985, Reed was found not guilty.[8]

Writing career[edit]

On March 9, 2004, At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War, an autobiographical book about his experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory through his time as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan. It reveals new details about the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Farewell Dossier, and other facets of the Cold War. It also describes a CIA plan approved by Reagan to undermine the Soviet Union's ability to sell natural gas to Western Europe by secretly installing malware in the technology used to operate pipelines. The effort resulted in a huge pipeline explosion in Siberia in the summer of 1982, he wrote.[9]

Reed's second book, co-authored with Danny B. Stillman, was titled The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation and was published in January 2009. One of the authors' most notable contentions is that in 1982 China made a policy decision to flood the developing world with atomic know-how. In February 2012, Reed published a spy novel titled The Tehran Triangle (Black Garnet Press 2012). The book is about Iran's attempt to build and detonate an atomic bomb in the United States.


Reed died in Santa Rosa, California on February 11, 2024, at the age of 89.[5]


  1. ^ a b Laurie, Clayton. Leaders of the National Reconnaissance Office 1961–2001. Office of the Historian, National Reconnaissance Office. May 1, 2002.
  2. ^ Thomas C. Reed, The Reagan Enigma: 1964-1980 (Figueroa Press, 2014).
  3. ^ Thomas C. Reed, At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War//
  4. ^ Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  5. ^ a b Smith, Chris (February 20, 2024). "Tom Reed, co-founder of Clos du Bois winery and former Air Force secretary, dies at 89". Press Democrat. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  6. ^ Berger, Dan (May 10, 1988). "Canadians Court Winery: Clos du Bois Reportedly Sold to Hiram Walker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  7. ^ [1] Reed Will Leave as Reagan Adviser By STEVEN R. WEISMAN, Special to the New York Times, Published: March 16, 1983
  8. ^ https://www.nytimes.com, Published: December 17, 1985, JURY CLEARS REED IN AMAX CASE[2]
  9. ^ "Reagan Approved Plan to Sabotage Soviets". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 15, 2023.
Military offices
Preceded by United States Secretary of the Air Force
Succeeded by