WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard today announced the death of Adm. Owen W. Siler, 85, Coast Guard commandant from 1974 to 1978, who succumbed to heart failure last night.

“This is a sad day for the Coast Guard,” said Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard. “The Coast Guard lost a close member of our family and America has lost a great leader. Adm. Siler’s relentless service to his Nation, from World War II to the war on drugs, will never be forgotten.

The face of the Coast Guard was forever changed as a result of Adm. Siler’s commitment and foresight towards minority recruiting and the advancement of women within the Coast Guard’s ranks.”

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Siler family during this difficult time,” Allen said.

Siler was nominated to become the 15th commandant of the Coast Guard by President Richard M. Nixon and, following Senate confirmation, he relieved Adm. Chester R. Bender, on June 1, 1974.

Read Admiral Siler’s official Coast Guard biography.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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