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Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter dies at 68 following 'sudden cardiac event'

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Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter died on Monday at 68 years old following a "sudden cardiac event," a statement from his family noted.

"It is with deep and profound sadness that the family of former Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter shares that Secretary Carter passed away Monday evening in Boston after a sudden cardiac event at the age of 68," the family's statement noted. It also stated that Carter had "devoted his professional life to the national security of the United States and teaching students about international affairs. He was a beloved husband, father, mentor, and friend. His sudden loss will be felt by all who knew him."

Carter had held the role of director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

"A Rhodes Scholar and theoretical physicist, Secretary Carter loved academia, teaching, and mentoring students. He believed that his most profound legacy would be the thousands of students he taught with the hope that they would make the world a better and safer place," the statement noted.

Carter served as Defense Secretary during a portion of President Barack Obama's tenure in office.

Prominent figures, including Obama, current President Joe Biden, and current Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, issued statements commemorating Carter.

Austin said in a statement that "the entire Department of Defense mourns the loss of a towering intellect, a steadfast leader, a devoted mentor to countless public servants, and a great patriot who devoted his life to strengthening the security of the country that he loved." Austin noted that Carter "tore down barriers to service when he made the decision to open all U.S. combat positions to women and announced that transgender Americans could openly serve in the U.S. military."

Biden described Carter as "honest" and "principled" and "a man of extraordinary integrity" — Biden also said that Carter had "opened every field of military service to women and protected the rights of transgender service members."

Obama said in a statement about Carter that "under his leadership, America accelerated its counterterrorism efforts, opened combat roles to women, modernized its weapons systems, and strengthened our alliances around the world."

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