WASHINGTON — John F. Lehman Jr., surrounded by military honor guards and laden with new medals for distinguished service, bade farewell Friday as the Navy's secretary and what he called the best job in the world.
The 44-year-old Lehman, the Reagan Administration's brash point man for the last six years in the successful drive to enlarge the Navy's fleet to 600 warships, was hailed by Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger for his management acumen and role in re-establishing U.S. maritime superiority.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Pentagon on this very beautiful but rather bittersweet day," Weinberger told a crowd of several hundred gathered on a parade ground above the banks of the Potomac River.
"When the President came to office, he had a clear goal to revitalize America's maritime strength along with our other military strength. . . . Carrying out the President's mandate, Secretary of the Navy Lehman has nurtured the development of the broad, bipartisan national consensus that maritime superiority is a critical element of the nation's security."