Army general who commanded in Iraq dies of cancer at age 67

Raymond T. Odierno, a retired Army general who commanded American and coalition forces in Iraq at the height of the war and capped a 39-year career by serving as the Army’s chief of staff, has died, his family said Saturday. He was 67.

“The general died after a brave battle with cancer; his death was not related to COVID,” a family statement said. There are not other details that we can share. The family of the deceased is very grateful and respectfully requests privacy. “

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Odierno died Friday; the family declined to say where. According to the family, information about funeral arrangements and burials was not available.

A native of Rockaway, New Jersey, Odierno graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1976 with a commission in field artillery. His roles in the Army and Defense Department included multiple overseas tours, such as in Iraq, Germany and Albania. He was a three-star General and served as the assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This job made him the chief military advisor to the Secretary of State.

Odierno served three tours in Iraq, capped by two years, from 2008 to 2010, as the top U.S. commander in Baghdad. General Lloyd Austin succeeded him in this post, and is currently the secretary of defense. Odierno served as commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq from 2006 to 2008.

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When Odierno retired in 2015, he was succeeded as Army chief of staff by Gen. Mark Milley, the current Joint Chiefs chairman. At a ceremony to mark his retirement from Army, former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter described Odierno as an Army chief of staff who was a strong commander and gave confidence to civilian leaders.

“His commanding appearance calmed the confounded, and his courage & compassion helped to carry the weight of loss and sacrifice,” Carter stated.

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Soldiers of his 4th Infantry were involved in the capture of Iraq’s deposed president, Saddam Hussein, in December 2003. That success gave hope to quashing an emerging insurgency, but in 2004 the insurgency gained greater momentum and led to the deadly rise of al-Qaida in Iraq.

In June of 2013, North Carolina State University revealed that Odierno was joining its board. He earned his Master of Science in Nuclear Effects Engineering from North Carolina State during his military service. He was president of Odierno Associates, a consulting firm in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

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