INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Joe Kernan, Indiana’s 48th governor, has died at 74.
Kernan had been battling Alzheimer’s disease, according to reports.
Kernan was a Vietnam veteran who spend 11 months as a POW in Hanoi after being shot down over North Vietnam in 1972.
In 1987, he was elected as mayor of South Bend. He would serve three terms.
In 1996, gubernatorial candidate Frank O’Bannon chose Kernan to run as his lieutenant governor. The pair won their race, then were re-elected in 2000.
O’Bannon died of a stroke in 2003 and Kernan was sworn in. He retired from politics in 2005.
He would continue work with a consulting firm and as an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame.
“Indiana mourns the loss of Joe Kernan, a bona fide American hero, decorated Navy officer, and truly selfless statesman who always placed the interests of his fellow Hoosiers first,” Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said in a statement.
He is survived by his wife Maggie, and seven siblings.