Raymond Odierno, Army general who led troops during Iraq war, dead at 67

Raymond T. Odierno, a four-star general who commanded U.S. and coalition forces during the Iraq war and later served as the Army’s chief of staff, died Friday, his family said. He was 67.

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Odierno’s cause of death was cancer, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Terence Kelley told The Washington Post.

“The general died after a brave battle with cancer; his death was not related to COVID,” a family statement said. “There are no other details to share at this time. His family is grateful for the concern and asks for privacy.”

The statement did not say where the general died.

Odierno, who stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 250 pounds, was an imposing figure with his shaved head and was considered one of the Army’s most capable battlefield leaders, the Post reported.

Odierno was born Sept. 8, 1954, in Rockaway, New Jersey. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1976 with a commission in field artillery, according to The Associated Press.

He received a master’s degree in nuclear effects engineering from North Carolina State University in 1986, the Post reported. Four years later, Odierno earned a second master’s degree, in national security and strategic studies, from the Naval War College.

He had three tours of duty in Iraq from 2003 to 2010, and was named the chief commander of all Allied forces in the country, the Post reported. Units of the 4th Infantry Division under Odierno tracked down and captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13, 2003.

As a three-star general, Odierno was assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When he retired in 2015, he was succeeded as Army chief of staff by Gen. Mark Milley, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the AP reported.

Odierno’s decorations included four Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, six awards of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal, according to the Post.

After retiring, Odierno became an adviser to JPMorgan Chase, and he was named chairman of USA Football, the newspaper reported. He also was named chairman of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and was a member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.