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Former Secretary of Defense Aston Carter dies at 68

Former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter died unexpectedly on Monday night at 68. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter died unexpectedly on Monday night at 68. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has died unexpectedly at the age of 68, his family said.

Cartier died of a "sudden cardiac event" on Monday night in Boston.

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He had served as secretary of defense under former President Barack Obama from February 2015 to January 2017.

"[Carter] devoted his professional life to the national security of the United States and teaching students about international affairs," his family said, according to NBC News. "He was a beloved husband, father, mentor, and friend. His sudden loss will be felt by all who knew him."

Carter, who went to Yale University and was a Rhodes scholar, joined the Department of Defense under former President Bill Clinton.

After serving as deputy secretary of defense from 2011 to 2014, he was nominated to replace Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense in December 2014.

During his tenure, the Department of Defense lifted all restrictions on women serving in combat and also scrapped a bon on transgender members of the military. He also helped lead the U.S.'s offensive against ISIS.

"As Secretary, he launched the successful campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, opened all combat positions to women, and forged new connections between the Department of Defense and the nation's technology community," his family said in a statement.

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After leaving government, Carter served as the director of the Belfer Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School.

In a statement Tuesday, Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf called the news "devastating" and praised Carter for being an "important leader" at the university.

"I want to offer my gratitude for his insight and wisdom, his unwavering commitment to trying to make the world better, his confidence that the Kennedy School can make an important difference in the world, his generous spirit toward his students and colleagues, and his warm and gracious friendship with me," Elmendorf said.

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