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Armenian Values ​​and Upbringing Always Helped Me: Paul Ignatius, Former US Navy Minister

Robert Ignatius, a former US Navy Minister in the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was the highest-ranking military of Armenian origin in the history of the United States.

Paul Robert Ignatius was born on November 11, 1920, in the city of Glendale, California, in the family of Armenian emigrants Hovsep and Eliza Ignatosyan. Since childhood, Paul has shown great love for military art, which Hovsep instilled in his son, telling various military stories. In order to ensure a decent future for the family, Hovsep, like thousands Armenians, worked day and night without any day off. In his memoirs Paul writes: "Despite that difficult period, my father did his best so that we did not need anything." Actively helping the Armenian population of Glendale, Hovsep enjoyed great respect and was rightfully elected head and leader of the local Armenian community.

Paul’s parents talked in their native language at home, but they did not force children to do the same. Assimilation of the younger generation proceeded rather swiftly, writes When the Armenian community began to expand in Glendale, creating centers of culture, including the Unification of Artists of Armenian Origin, everybody gathered in the house of Hovsep Ignatosyan, among them Ruben Mamulyan, Akim Tamirov ... Paul's mother, Eliza Zhamkochyan, was considered the soul of these unforgettable evenings. Unlike his parents, Paul never suffered a special longing for his historical homeland. Until 1988, before the devastating earthquake in Armenia...

The career of a graduate of the University of Southern California and the Harvard Business School covered key periods of US history in the twentieth century. As a young lieutenant in 1944, as part of the 7th US Naval Strategic Military Fleet, Paul Ignatius participated in a large-scale Philippine landing operation, fought in sea battles against the Japanese until they capitulated in 1945, and worked on the strategy of the naval blockade of the peninsula during the Korean War. In 1953, a young Armenian became a member of the board of the Marshall Fund and for many years confronted 34th President of America Dwight Eisenhower in the intention to start a war in Vietnam, which is why he fell out of his post. In 1961, after John Kennedy was elected President of the United States, Paul Robert Ignatius took the post of Deputy Chief of Staff of the US Armed Forces. Several years later, already under President Lyndon Jones, he became Minister of the US Navy, reports.


In the evening of August 4, 1967, the family of Ignatius was sitting at the dinner table. Then an unexpected phone call came: "I decided to appoint you as the Minister of the US Navy." Congratulations!", President Lyndon Johnson was extremely laconic. Paul held this position until 1969.

It was under Ignatius’ rule that the US Navy reached at a new level in the development of the newest destroyers and battleships of the new generation, and in 2013 the destroyers DDG-117 of the Arly Burke US Armed Forces were named after Paul Ignatius (USS Paul Igna̬tius DDG-117).

The earthquake in Armenia, the troubles and the problems of the country very far from Paul, shattered his heart like a knife. The Minister of the Navy, retired by that time, had launched a stormy activity to organize specific events in favor of Armenia. In 1990, Ignatius proclaimed the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance under the "Agency for International Development," which entire activity was dedicated to helping his compatriots.

Paul Ignatius participates in the life of the Armenian Diaspora untill today: despite his age, he continues to lobby for Armenian interests. Undoubtedly, the authority of such a person makes a great influence on the American military-political establishment. In addition, Paul's son David Ignatius is an American journalist and writer, columnist of The Washington Post, which also pays special attention to the Armenian issue.

A few years ago Paul Ignatius together with his family traveled through historical Armenia and visited the present Republic of Armenia. And somehow, speaking in the Armenian Church of St. Mary in Washington, he confessed: "Armenian values ​​and upbringing always helped me, I never forgot about my parents, my roots, my people," writes.


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