Norman Mineta, the federal transportation secretary who ordered flights grounded after the 9/11 terror attacks, died Tuesday at the age of 90.
According to CNBC, Mineta died peacefully at his Edgewater, Maryland home with his family nearby.
“His cause of death was a heart ailment,” John Flaherty, Mineta’s former chief of staff said. “He was an extraordinary public servant and a very dear friend.”
Aside from his work on 9/11 Norman Mineta was known for breaking racial barriers and becoming the first Asian American to serve in his high-profile government post.
In November of 2018, Mineta delivered a speech during the presentation of the Mineta Legacy Project, the Japan Foundation for the United States, and the US-Japan Council.
Mineta later became a mayor of San Jose, California, and then was the first Asian American to become a federal Cabinet secretary, serving under both Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush.
Bush awarded Mineta the nation’s most prestigious civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and said in a statement that Mineta was “a wonderful American story about someone who overcame hardship and prejudice to serve in the United States Army, Congress, and the Cabinet of two Presidents.”
“As my Secretary of Transportation, he showed great leadership in helping prevent further attacks on and after 9/11. As I said when presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Norm has given his country a lifetime of service, and he’s given his fellow citizens an example of leadership, devotion to duty, and personal character,” the former president said.
The former secretary of transportation was the son of Japanese immigrants who spent his childhood at a World War II internment camp. He ended his career at the age of 74 after 5 and 1/2 years in his post and was the longest-serving secretary since the agency’s inception in 1967.