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Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Facebook on Monday that she has sworn in the new defense secretary. Last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III took part in a brief administrative swearing-in ceremony at the Pentagon shortly after the Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee. The vote was 93-2.

“Today I swore in Lloyd Austin as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD),” Vice President Harris wrote on her wall. “Secretary Austin’s integrity, experience, and intimate knowledge of the issues facing our military make him the right leader for this moment.”

Austin and his wife, Charlene Denise Banner Austin, pictured alongside him in the vice president’s photo, have been married for over 40 years.

Great a first black Defense Secretary sworn in by the first woman, woman of color Vice President. Lots of glass ceilings shattered,” wrote one member of the public.

Lloyd J. Austin III is a retired four-star U.S. Army general with nearly 41 years of military service. He was featured on the cover of US Black Engineer magazine’s end-of-year Veterans edition in 2013 and is a Stars and Stripes honoree.

During his illustrious military career, Gen. Austin served as the 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. His awards and decorations include five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit.

After retiring, Gen. Austin served on the boards of directors of Nucor Corporation, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, and Guest Services, Inc., and on the board of trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Auburn University. He was also a member of the Raytheon Technologies Board of Directors. Gen. Austin has been a member of the Raytheon Technologies board (including his service on the predecessor United Technologies Corporation board) since 2016.

Gen. Austin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he holds two master’s degrees – one in education from Auburn University and another in business management from Webster University.

In April 2016, a special retirement ceremony was hosted by then Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley at Summerall Field, Fort Myer, Virginia. The event featured a pre-ceremony concert, a musical salute, and a presentation of awards.

“This is a noteworthy tribute to General Austin,” said retired Vice Admiral Walter Davis, one of the founding fathers of the BEYA Stars and Stripes Mentoring organization.

“While in active service he gave Stars and Stripes that same dedication. Whether talking to a large audience or small group or one-on-one, he not only inspired youth to pursue engineering and STEM but he inspired excellence, dedicated hard work, and a don’t give up easy attitude. In fact, all of us were inspired by him. We hope to have his continued help with Stars & Stripes. We should all let him know how much we appreciate him.”


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