Eugene M. Zuckert

Article excerpt

1911-2000

Eugene M. Zuckert, a Washington, D.C. attorney and former Secretary of the Air Force (1961-1965), died of pneumonia at Sibley Memorial Hospital on June 5, 2,000. He had a heart ailment.

Born on November 9, 1911, in New York City, Mr. Zuckert would have more than a fifty-year-affiliation with the United States Air Force. He earned a BA degree from Yale in 1933, and then enrolled in the combined Yale Law School-Harvard Business School course, sponsored by William O. Douglas, the future Supreme Court justice. Mr. Zuckert was a member of the bar in New York State and in the District of Columbia.

In 1940, after serving for three years as an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he taught government and business relations at Harvard and was subsequently appointed assistant dean. While at Harvard, he was also a special consultant on statistical controls to the commanding general of the Army Air Forces.

In 1944, Mr. Zuckert was commissioned in the U.S. Navy. He was assigned to the office of the chief of naval operations, where his duties involved the naval inventory control program. In September 1945, he joined the Surplus Property Administration as executive assistant to W. Stuart Symington. When Symington was named assistant secretary of war for air in February 1946, Zuckert became his special assistant.

With passage of the National Security Act in 1947, the creation of the United States Air Force, and Symington's appointment as secretary, Zuckert became the assistant secretary. He instituted Symington's "Management Control through Cost Control," a program to place the USAF on business-like basis. It utilized industrial practices to establish Air Force procedures.

Zuckert took the most pride in implementing President Harry Truman's 1948 executive order, which required the armed services to abolish segregation. Working with Lt. Gen. Idwal H. Edwards, Air Force chief of personnel, Zuckert helped implement the integration program. In addition, Zuckert represented the Air Force on the interservice committee that developed a Uniform Code of Military Justice for the Department of Defense.

When Thomas K. Finletter, succeeded Symington as secretary, in April 1950, Zuckert was assigned the "highly controversial and vexatious problem of the civilian components, including the reserves and the Air Force National Guard." As Finletter concentrated on issues involving the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and nuclear weapons development, the daily operations of the USAF secretariat fell to Zuckert.

In February 1952, Mr. Zuckert became a member of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), serving for two years. He then left government service, and went into private aviation law practice with his friend, Coates Lear. During the 1950s, Zuckert served on the boards of several companies. He directed the People-to-People Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization that operated the HOPE ship. …