A World War II Navy veteran and the nation's only non-elected vice president and president, Ford received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1980.
Following Spiro Agnew's resignation in 1973, Ford was appointed vice president. He served just 10 months before President Nixon resigned, and he became the 38th president, leading the nation through the troubled post-Watergate years. Upon taking office, Ford told the nation, "I assume the presidency under extraordinary circumstances ... This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts."
Ford, who drew criticism for his controversial pardon of Nixon, faced the fiscal challenges of increased inflation and a recession. He made his mark with a push toward detente in the Cold War by signing the Helsinki Accords. U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended during his brief presidency.
Before he was tapped for the vice presidency, Ford had served Michigan in the U.S. House continuously since 1949, and was House minority leader from 1965 to 1973. In Congress, he had a reputation for integrity and openness.
While in office, Ford said he considered himself "a moderate in domestic affairs, a conservative in fiscal affairs and a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist in foreign affairs."
He remained active in his party and public service after losing to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election. He died in 2006, at 93.
For more on Ford, click here (http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/geraldford).