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BALTIMORE, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Retired Gen. Alexander Haig Jr., a top official to three U.S. presidents, died Saturday at age 85 at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, officials said.

Haig was admitted to Johns Hopkins Jan. 28 with an infection and died at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson told CNN.

Haig, a four-star Army general, served as commander of NATO and secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, and in 1988 ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination. Haig also served as a senior adviser in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon.

Haig gained notoriety in 1981 after President Reagan was shot and wounded and then Vice President George H.W. Bush was en route from Texas to Washington.

"As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the vice president," Haig declared shortly after the shooting.

Haig was born in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, and attended the University of Notre Dame for two years before transferring to the U.S. Military Academy in 1944. After graduation in 1947, he served in Japan and led combat units in Korea and in Vietnam.

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Pres. Nixon has a hard time pinning the Defense Distinguished Service Medal on Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr., the number two security advisor under Henry Kissinger. After congratulating Haig, the medal didn’t hold and fell down to the floor. (UPI Photo/John Full/Files)
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