General Raymond T. Odierno, a New Jersey native and former chief of staff who led the successful “rise” that turned both the flow of the fight and the American view of the war in Iraq, died Friday at the age of 67.
“The general died after a brave battle with cancer; his death was not related to COVID, ”his family said in a statement. No further details were given.
The U.S. Army Association reported that the general had a long record and made several trips abroad.
“In more than 37 years of military service, he commanded units at all levels, from division to theater, and served in Germany, Albania, Kuwait, Iraq, and throughout the United States,” the report said.
Odierno, who rose to the rank of four-star general, served three missions in Iraq, and it was under his command that elements of the 4th Infantry Division captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003.
“Caught like a rat,” Odierno famously stated in one of the signature moments in America’s military conflicts after 9/11.
“He was at the bottom of a hole with no way to fight back,” Odierno, then major general, told global media as images were sent around the world of the former dreaded former dictator being pulled out of hide by American troops.
Odierno was born on September 8, 1954 in Rockaway Township, NJ, the son of a World War II Army sergeant and working mother. A star high school athlete, the towering 6-foot-5-inch Odierno played both baseball and soccer at the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1976.
Odierno was accused by the Bush administration in 2007 of having command of the controversial so-called “rise” in the Iraq war.
The rapid deployment of tens of thousands of additional troops proved successful in curbing violence in Iraq and reducing US losses, increasing Odierno’s profile in military and global affairs.
He gained further international prominence in 2008 after replacing General David Petraeus as head of the multinational force in Iraq.
Odierno was known in military circles for his deep commitment to the army and to these soldiers and their families, killed and wounded in the service of their nation.
“Ray certainly believes that soldiers are not in the army, they are the army,” Army Secretary John McHugh said at Odierno’s retirement ceremony in 2105, the Army Times reported. “It has always been his No. 1 job to serve them well and serve them honestly. Whether it’s fighting in Tikrit or visiting a hospital bed in Walter Reed, he has led with a quick mind, numb hands and the spirit of a servant. ”
Odierno leaves behind his wife Linda, whom he met in high school, as well as their three children, including retired Captain Tony Odierno, a combat veteran and their families.
With Post wires