John Poindexter

John Poindexter bigraphy, stories - retired American naval officer and Department of Defense official

John Poindexter : biography

August 12, 1936 –

John Marlan Poindexter (born August 12, 1936) is a retired United States naval officer and Department of Defense official. He was Deputy National Security Advisor and National Security Advisor for the Reagan administration. He was convicted in April 1990 of multiple felonies as a result of his actions in the Iran–Contra affair, but his convictions were reversed on appeal in 1991. More recently, he served a brief stint as the director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office for the George W. Bush administration. He is the father of NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Alan G. Poindexter.

U.S. Executive branch service

Poindexter went on to serve in the Reagan administration as Military Assistant, from 1981 to 1983, as Deputy National Security Advisor from 1983 to 1985, and as National Security Advisor from 1985 to 1986. From 1983 to 1985, Poindexter was responsible for leading and managing the National Security Council staff as chairman of the Crisis Pre-planning Group. As National Security Advisor, Vice Admiral Poindexter was responsible for providing recommendations to the President on national security, foreign policy and defense policy.

Major events in which he played a significant role for the executive branch included the Strategic Defense Initiative, Operation Urgent Fury, the Achille Lauro incident, Operation El Dorado Canyon (in response to Libyan terrorist attacks), the Reykjavík Summit with the Soviets.

Early life and career

Poindexter was born in Washington, Indiana, the son of Ellen (Sommers) and Marlan G. Poindexter. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958, where he was first in his class, and among his fellow graduates were Bruce McCandless II who graduated second and Senator John McCain. National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane graduated the following year. From 1961 to 1964, Poindexter studied as a graduate student and earned his M.S. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1964 from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Nuclear Physics. For his PhD, he conducted laboratory research to further develop a model for understanding the Mössbauer effect with Nobel Laureate Rudolf Mössbauer.


His wife, Linda Poindexter, was an Episcopal priest for 13 years, but retired from the clergy when she converted to Roman Catholicism. They have five children, including the late Alan G. Poindexter, a NASA astronaut, Space Shuttle pilot on the STS-122 mission to the International Space Station, and the commander of STS-131.

Defense contractor work

From 1988 to 1989, Poindexter was senior scientist at Presearch, Inc., which had primarily been involved with defense studies and analysis. Faced with anticipated defense budget reductions, Poindexter joined the firm to develop new commercial enterprises. He designed and developed hardware and software for the prototype of a digital real-time, imaging system to be used for physical security of high value facilities. It was used to obtain a contract for a nuclear power plant security system.

From 1990 to 1996, Poindexter served as co-founder of TP Systems, Inc., a software development firm specializing in commercial software for the IBM PCs and compatibles; Poindexter was the chief designer and programmer. Development included a symbolic debugger for multi-tasking environments, a BBS communications program, and numerous utility programs.

From 1993 to 1996, Poindexter served as a consultant to Elkins Group. Elkins was a business alliance with Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which has developed the Elkins Interactive Training Network (EITN), a satellite based training delivery system. Poindexter was the chairman of the Maritime Advisory Committee and a member of Elkins’ board of directors. He also provided advice on strategic planning.

From 1996 to 2002 Poindexter served as senior vice president for SYNTEK Technologies. SYNTEK is a small high technology firm with contracts in domestic and international defense and commercial business. Poindexter was responsible for high-level advice on management and direction of information systems projects (for example Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Project Genoa).