Washington DC: Retired Army General Raymond T. Odierno, who spearheaded the American and coalition forces’ Iraq mission, passed away on Friday at the age of 67. Odierno in his 39-year career also served as the Army’s chief of staff.
“The general died after a brave battle with cancer; his death was not related to COVID,” a family statement read according to AP. “There are no other details to share at this time. His family is grateful for the concern and asks for privacy,” it added.
US President Joe Biden hailed Odierno as a “hero of great integrity and honour.” In a joint statement, the Biden and First Lady Jill Biden remembered that Odierno had spoken during the funeral of their son Beau, who served under Odierno in Iraq and died of brain cancer in 2015.
“Ray was a giant in military circles — dedicated first and always to the service members he commanded and served alongside,” the Bidens said, adding that Odierno and his wife Linda were advocates for military children and families.
“We stand with the Odierno family and all our brave service members who were shaped and molded by General Odierno over his lifetime of service,” they added.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who succeeded Odierno as the top commander in Iraq in 2010, called him a confidant, a friend and a powerful example.
“Ray was known for his loyalty — to mission and to his people. He cared deeply about the troops who knew him as ‘General O,’ and he and Linda looked after the families of those troops as if they were their own.”
Odierno was succeeded as Army chief of staff by Gen. Mark Milley in 2015.