Jack Koehler, 82, who fled advancing Soviets as a boy in Germany during World War II, grew up to report from there for the Associated Press, and served briefly in Ronald Reagan's White House, died Friday at his home in Stamford, Conn.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer months ago, said Anne Cron, who was his closest friend.
Born in Dresden, Germany, Mr. Koehler served as an interpreter for a U.S. Army unit as a teen after fleeing Soviet forces during the war. After the war, he spent time in Canada before coming to the United States in 1954, where he served in the Army. His duties included intelligence work.
After joining the AP, Mr. Koehler was a news correspondent in Berlin and Bonn in his native country before returning to the United States to become bureau chief in Newark, N.J., and work in New York. He retired in 1985 as assistant general manager and managing director of world services.
Mr. Koehler was friends with Reagan and served briefly in his administration when it became public that he had belonged to a Nazi youth group at age 10. He resigned after just a week as White House communications director in 1987, but insisted he didn't leave because of publicity over his involvement in Jungvolk. He described the group as "the Boy Scouts run by the Nazi party." He said he resigned to give the newly named chief of staff his choice of team members.
Mr. Koehler went on to start an international consulting firm, and held posts that took him overseas.
Later in life, he wrote a pair of books, Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Police, and Spies in the Vatican: The Soviet Union's Cold War Against the Catholic Church.