MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Retired Army Gen. John W. Vessey, who rose through the ranks in a 46-year military career to become chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under President Ronald Reagan, has died. He was 94.

Vessey's daughter, Sarah Vessey, told The Associated Press her father died Thursday evening of natural causes.

Vessey enlisted as a private in the Minnesota National Guard in 1939, fought in World War II and Vietnam, and was the nation's top military officer when he retired to his home state of Minnesota in 1985.

After being named chairman of the joint chiefs in 1982, Vessey helped oversee the military buildup that Reagan championed when he took office just over a year earlier.

Even in retirement, Vessey was sent back to Vietnam to account for Americans missing in action and bring back any still alive.