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William Bradford; High-Ranking Diplomat in Chad, Sierra Leone

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

William G. Bradford, 83, a career Foreign Service officer who served as U.S. ambassador to Chad from 1976 to 1979 and later operated an international consulting firm, died July 16 of lung cancer at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He lived in McLean.

Mr. Bradford was born in Chicago and served in the Army during World War II. After graduating from Indiana University, he entered the State Department's Foreign Service.

He had early assignments in Berlin and Naples during the 1950s before being posted to Vietnam in 1962. Later, after the fall of Saigon in 1975, he was executive officer of a federal task force coordinating efforts to resettle Vietnamese refugees.

As a diplomat in Zaire from 1964 to 1966, Mr. Bradford supervised air evacuations after the so-called Stanleyville massacre, in which Congolese rebels captured 1,300 Westerners and executed 33, including two Americans. Mr. Bradford helped arrange for Americans and other Westerners to flee the region.

During his tenure as deputy chief of mission in Sierra Leone from 1966 to 1968, Mr. Bradford personally rescued a U.S. State Department employee who had been taken captive during a coup. For that action, he received the State Department's Superior Honor Award for Heroism.

Mr. Bradford left the State Department in 1979 to become campaign director for Republican presidential candidate John B. Anderson (Ill.). He was not associated with Anderson's 1980 run for the presidency as an independent.

Until his death, Mr. Bradford was chief executive of W.G. Bradford & Associates, an international consulting firm specializing in trade and political issues in Africa.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Joanne Schwarz Bradford of McLean; three children, Bruce Bradford of El Paso, Katherine Fiala of Evansville, Ind., and Deborah Hornbake of Hadlyme, Conn.; and five grandchildren.

-- Matt Schudel


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