PORTLAND, Ore. — As a 23-year-old Navy officer in 1945, Mark Hatfield was among the first American servicemen to personally see the destruction wrought upon Hiroshima by an atomic bomb.
It was an experience that helped shape Hatfield into an outspoken critic of war as he went on to become a two-term Republican Oregon governor then the longest-serving U.S. senator in Oregon history.
Hatfield — one of the most influential politicians the state has seen — died in Portland Sunday night at age 89, said his longtime friend and former aide, Gerry Frank.
The Oregonian reported he passed away at a care center. The cause of death was not immediately released. Hatfield had become increasingly frail over the years.
He was elected governor of Oregon in 1958 and re-elected in 1962 before winning his first U.S. Senate campaign in 1966. He served five terms in the Senate, from 1967 to 1997.
Hatfield is best known at the national level for his pacifist ways, which often put him at odds with fellow Republicans but endeared him to many Oregonians.
At the 1965 National Governors Conference in Los Angeles, he was denounced as a traitor for casting the lone "no" vote among 50 governors on a resolution supporting President Johnson's policy in Vietnam. In the early 1970s, he joined then-Democratic Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota to sponsor an amendment seeking to end the Vietnam War. A decade later, he helped launch a campaign for a nuclear weapons freeze.
Oregonians remembered Hatfield for his considerable accomplishments and for an independent streak the moderate Republican showed during five decades in public office.