Don Reed Herring was the senator's oldest brother.

By Kimberly Truong
Updated Apr 23, 2020 @ 11:15 am
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Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Senator Elizabeth Warren's oldest brother, Don Reed Herring, has passed away from the coronavirus at the age of 86. On Thursday, the Senator confirmed the news with posts on her social media accounts, writing, "My oldest brother, Don Reed, died from coronavirus on Tuesday evening. He joined the Air Force at 19 and spent his career in the military, including five and a half years off and on in combat in Vietnam (that’s him, on my right). He was charming and funny, a natural leader."

"What made him extra special was his smile—quick and crooked, it always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him," she continued. "I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say 'I love you' one more time—and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close. I’ll miss you dearly my brother."

Warren had not previously disclosed that any members of her family had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Don Reed was the eldest of Warren's three brothers, survived by John Herring and David Herring. During her campaign for president, Warren often mentioned her brothers, who she often described as her link to a more conservative upbringing, having discussed their military careers and the fact that two of them (Don and David) were Republicans who agreed with her on some viewpoints.

In January, her brothers appeared in one of her campaign ads.

According to the Boston Globe, Don Reed Herring was diagnosed with cancer years ago and undergone treatment, and was hospitalized for pneumonia in February. He was moved to intensive care at an Oklahoma hospital April 15 and died six days later. Warren reportedly spoke with him daily before he was transferred to the hospital, but that was increasingly difficult to do as he became more ill. She last spoke with him on Sunday, when he seemed to be doing better.

He was a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, and is survived by his two sons, John and Jeffrey