Washington — Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, the naval officer who proposed the interception and Forced landing of an Egyptian jetliner carrying four accused Palestinian pirates, is a nuclear physicist who has commanded ships and a destroyer task force but has never been decorated for combat valor.
Poindexter, 49, was credited Friday by his boss, national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, with the proposal and top-level management of the plan that went to Reagan just five hours before it was executed without a shot being fired.
McFarlane said the plan, which he received from Poindexter and first presented to Reagan in a private room at the Sara Lee bakery outside Chicago, included the concept of trying to intercept the Egyptian plane if it took off from Egypt and the precise rules of engagement the US. pilots were to follow.
McFarlane, explaining why he was able to leave Washington for a meeting with former President Richard M. Nixon only minutes after Reagan gave his final approval for the interception, said he wanted to give Poindexter “credit where credit is due.”
“He was on top of it and, obviously, with his —Maval experience, had a particular grasp of it and did a terrific job, both in what he proposed and in managing the interdepartmental process here,”’ said McFarlane, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel.
Promoted from military assistant to the National Security Council to be McFarlane’s deputy two years ago, Poindexter has had a model Navy career since his graduation at the head of his class from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1954.
He earned a PhD. in nuclear physics from California Institute of Technology ten years later and was given command of his first ship, the guided missile cruiser USS England, ten years after that.
A former aide to three secretaries of the Navy, Poindexter commanded a destroyer squadron from 1978 until 1980, when he was promoted from captain to rear admiral, the rank he held until he was awarded a third star last May.
Article extracted from this publication >> October 18, 1985