Flags Ordered at Half-Staff for Gen. Raymond T. Odierno of Rockaway
Published on October 18, 2021
Morris County Native Was U.S. Army Chief of Staff and Commander during Iraqi Freedom
Governor Phil Murphy today ordered flags lowered to half-staff tomorrow to honor four-star Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, a Rockaway native who served as U.S. Army Chief of Staff from 2011 to 2015 and played a major role in planning the surge of American forces during the Iraq war that helped to stabilize the country.
“First, as you venture out tomorrow, you’ll notice that our flags will have been lowered to half-staff. Today I ordered that they will be lowered tomorrow in honor of the late four star U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, a Rockaway native … A great soldier,” said Governor Murphy at the top of his daily press conference.
He also noted the passing today of Gen. Colin Powell, the first Black Secretary of State and decorated veteran. He died Monday at 84 from complications related to COVID-19, according to his family.
“Second, we are mourning the loss of another great solider, along with the nation -- the death of former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin Powell,” said Murphy. “As a solider, diplomat, he gave his all to his nation and we are forever grateful … He was a giant. To his wife, widow, Alma, and the rest of the Powell Family, our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Odierno, who had a decorated military career that stretched nearly four decades, died on Oct. 8 at the age of 67 after battling cancer.
President Joseph Biden called him a “hero” in a statement released by the White House following the General’s death.
Rockaway Mayor Thomas Mulligan and the Morris County Board of County Commissioners approached the Governor’s office last week requesting a statewide flag lowering to honor the General.
“The Governor’s office recognized immediately that we had lost a real hero here in New Jersey. This was a man who grew up right here in Morris County before attending West Point and launching a remarkable career serving our nation. He was an inspiration to us all,” said Commissioner Director Stephen Shaw.
The Board of Commissioners, Mayor Mulligan and others will honor Gen. Odierno in a Veteran’s Day ceremony at the board’s Nov. 10 work session meeting in Morristown. Details will be announced later.
“Gen. Odierno was a local hero. He grew up and went to schools in Rockaway Borough, attending Morris Hills High School before leaving for West Point and moving on to an amazing military career,” said Mayor Mulligan. “In past years, when the General visited the town, he always had time for the residents, and he visited the schools he attended to interact with the students. His presence was larger than life in Rockaway Borough.”
Among his many accomplishments, Gen. Odierno is known for his leadership role in conducting a troop surge in Iraq that slowed heavy sectarian violence in the war-torn nation. It was in 2007, when then-President George W. Bush approved increasing troops in Iraq by 20,000 to quell an insurgency and sectarian violence that followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Gen. David H. Petraeus was named the new top commander in Iraq and Gen. Odierno was the number two military officer in charge of the operation.
“Ray Odierno — the Big O to his many admirers and I am among them — was a truly extraordinary leader, soldier, and human being,” Gen. Petraeus said in a statement after his death.
Gen. Odierno received his fourth star in 2008 and replaced Gen. Petraeus as chief commander of the multinational force in Iraq. Gen. Odierno retired in 2015.
Gen. Odierno is survived by his wife of 45 years, Linda, three children, a sister and four grandchildren.