Paul R. Ignatius was born in Los Angeles, California, on 11 November 1920, and attended public schools in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles. A 1942 graduate of the University of Southern California, he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts with honors and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
During World War II, Mr. Ignatius served as a Lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve, principally as an aviation ordnance officer in the escort aircraft carrier Manila Bay in the Pacific.
Mr. Ignatius holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Harvard University (1947). He was a Research Assistant and an Instructor in Business Administration at Harvard from 1947 to 1950. In 1950, with two of his Harvard Business School associates, he formed the management consulting and research firm, Harbridge House, Inc.
For the next eleven years, he had a major role in the development and expansion of Harbridge House. His efforts were devoted to consulting and research in military supply and procurement, and in the procurement responsibilities of a large segment of defense industry.
Mr. Ignatius was Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations and Logistics) from 22 May 1961 until 28 February 1964, when he became Under Secretary of the Army, On 12 December 1964 he assumed the Office of Assistant secretary of Defense (Installations and Logistics) and on 1 September 1967 he became Secretary of the Navy.