“Vietnam: 1968-1969, New Leadership, Same Stalemate”
In mid-1968, President Nixon appointed Rear Admiral Elmo Zumwalt as the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Vietnam, with a promotion to Vice Admiral. The Navy had been in Vietnam since 1954 and this was the first Commander with a three-star rank. Howard Kerr accompanied the Admiral to Vietnam and served as his personal aide. General Creighton Abrams was the Senior Military Commander and Ellsworth Bunker was the U.S. Ambassador. The United States had over 500,000 uniformed military in Vietnam and had been fighting there with significant forces since 1965. Despite the escalation, the Vietnam war was already being lost in the minds of Americans.
After earning his UI degree, Iowa native Howard Kerr served as a U.S. Naval Officer from 1960-1981. During his time as a naval officer, he earned his MA and MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. From 1973-1975, Kerr served as a Military Aide to Vice Presidents Agnew and Ford, and as a Naval Aide and Deputy Presidential Counselor to President Ford. From there he went on to serve as a Military Fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations in 1978-1979. Upon leaving the military, he developed a successful private-sector career, becoming President and CEO of Custom Technologies Corporation, Grabill Aerospace Industries, Ltd., and Pocklington Financial Corporation. In his former hometown of Lake Forest, Illinois, Kerr served on the City Council and as Mayor. Through Rotary International, he is instrumental in providing scholarships to local high school students, and he has returned to the UI campus regularly to speak with students in the Department of Political Science and is a member of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board.