Former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan, a Vietnamese prisoner of war who got into politics and was in the top cabinet of the state when his predecessor was hit by a fatal stroke, died Wednesday at the age of 74.
Kernan died at a South Bend health facility, said Mary Downes, who was his governor’s chief of staff. Kernan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago, but his family kept his condition private until earlier this month revealing that he had lost the opportunity to speak and live in a care facility.
Kernan, a Democrat, won three elections as mayor of the South General before electing the governor-general of the lieutenant general along with governor Frank O̵7;Bannon in 1996. And in 2000. election to Republican Mitch Daniels.
“The honorable man is not a strong enough word to describe him,” the current head of government, Eric Holcomb, said in a statement. “Despite personal expenses, Joe Kernan has repeatedly dedicated every ounce of his own to keep his oath and serve his beloved country and state.”
A disrespectful campaigner who was a catcher on the baseball team at the University of Notre Dame, Kernan was widely praised for the smooth transition following the death of the first governor of Indiana in 1891.
“It was an unregistered territory,” the ceremony said a few days before he left office in 2005. At first, Kernan was told by Republican state elder James Merritt. “It was your legacy – calm leadership during the crisis.”
Kernan joined the Navy after 1968. Graduated from the University of Notre Dame and flew as a navigator on combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam. His reconnaissance plane was shot down during a mission over North Vietnam in 1972. May 7 He was thrown out and taken prisoner. Having started an 11-month prisoner of war that ended in 1973. March 27 After leaving Hanoi, a trial began.
He said the worst day in captivity was early when he spoke to another POW.
“He told me that our escort had lost us and that we thought we were dead,” he said. Kernan said in an interview. “My family thought I was dead, and if the Navy thought I was dead, the thing that comes to your mind is that there is no reason for these guys to keep me alive.”
For decades, Kernan celebrated every May 7th by playing golf, eating pizza and drinking beer. He said he remembered the date of his arrest “without hesitation” every year, but sometimes did not remember the anniversary of his release until a day or a week later.
“I think it’s because if it weren’t for May 7, it would never have been March 27,” Kernan said. “It was a day when my life changed.”
Kernan’s actions as governor included the election of former state budget director Kathy Davis to replace him as deputy lieutenant chief, making her the first woman to serve as governor or lieutenant governor of India.
He also became Indiana’s first governor in 48 years, sparing the life of a man imprisoned on death row when he suspended execution a few days before the 2004 execution. Kernan said he ruled that it would be unfair to comply with Darnell Williams ’1986 Gary murders of a mentally disabled accomplice sentenced to life imprisonment. Williams’ sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole.
Kernan decided before 2004. Candidate for governor a year before O’Bannon’s death. Two months later, after taking over the top state office, he changed his mind, declaring, “I don’t want to look at it aside.”
Republicans attacked Kernan for the state government budget deficit and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Democrats blamed 2001 Problems of national recession after the dot-com office. Kernan lost the same most expensive Indiana governorate campaign to Daniels, who was director of the federal budget for President George W. Bush and is now president of Purdue University.