Paul Robert Ignatius, US Secretary of Navy

Paul Robert Ignatius, US Secretary of Navy

“I think it’s a privilege to serve one’s country.”

Who he is

Paul Ignatius served as the United States Secretary of the Navy under the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. As such, he is the highest-ranking Armenian-American military official in the history of the United States.

He was born in Glendale, California, to two Armenian parents. His maternal grandfather had emigrated to the United States in the 1890s, but his father had come from Armenia. Despite his family history, he only learned of his heritage later on in life. After graduating from the University of Southern California (USC) he enrolled in an MBA program at Harvard University, but his studies were interrupted by World War II when he went into the armed forces, serving in the navy. 

Ignatius returned to complete his education at Harvard after the war and began a career at the United States Department of Defense. After years at the Pentagon, he was appointed as Under Secretary of the Army, the second in command after the Secretary. He then served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense before being appointed as Secretary of the Navy, where he served during part of the Vietnam War, from 1967 to 1969. 

The United States Navy honored Ignatius by naming a destroyer ship after him, the USS Paul Ignatius. 

Interesting fact

His son, David Ignatius, is a columnist for the Washington Post. 

Learn more about him

A Name With Firepower: USC Dornsife