Biden remembers Gen. Odierno: ‘Part of some of our most poignant memories’
President Biden commemorated the late Gen. Raymond Odierno, who passed away at the age of 67 from cancer, saying in a statement that he “was part of some of our most poignant memories.”
“Ray welcomed us to Camp Victory in Iraq where, to honor July 4th, we helped to swear in as American citizens immigrants to our country who were already serving, fighting, and sacrificing on behalf of our nation,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House on Saturday night.
“He was there to pass his wisdom on to West Point graduates as a fellow member of the Long Gray Line. Ray and his wife Linda were partners and fierce advocates for military children and families.”
A family spokesperson confirmed to The Hill earlier Saturday that the New Jersey native had passed away on Friday.
“The general died after a brave battle with cancer; his death was not related to COVID. There are no other details to share at this time,” the statement from the spokesperson said. “His family is grateful for the concern and asks for privacy.”
Biden said that Odierno was his son Beau Biden’s commander when he served in Iraq and he spoke during Beau’s funeral. Beau Biden died from brain cancer in 2015, the former Army chief and had given him the Legion of Merit award.
The president said that Odierno was “a giant in military circles,” and added that “we can think of no person who better encapsulated that basic creed of duty, honor, country.”
“Today is a sad day for our nation. We have lost a hero of great integrity and honor,” Biden continued.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom from April 2003 to March 2004, Odierno headed the 4th Infantry Division, commanding the division for almost three years. He also was involved in coordinated efforts to apprehend former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Between 2011 and 2015, he also served as the 38th Army Chief of Staff.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also remembered the former Army chief in a statement on Saturday evening. Austin said that Odierno “served his country with great dignity and courage” and “mentored an entire generation of future leaders.”
“From training and equipment to mental health and education, the Odiernos remained tireless advocates for the health and welfare of those who serve,” Austin said. “As our 38th Chief of Staff of the Army, Ray also worked to forge what he called an ‘Army of the future’— a force that was agile, innovative, adaptable, and led by leaders of character and commitment.”
“The United States Army, indeed our nation, is stronger for his dedication, professionalism, and leadership. I know that I am a better person for having had his friendship,” he added.