First Hispanic 4-Star General Dies

Army, January 2018 | Go to article overview

First Hispanic 4-Star General Dies


Retired Gen. Richard E. Cavazos, a highly decorated combat veteran who made history in 1982 by becoming the U.S. Army's first Hispanic four-star general, died at the age of 88.

Commissioned in 1951 after graduating as the distinguished ROTC graduate from Texas Technological College, Cavazos saw combat in the Korean War and Vietnam. In 1976, he became the first Hispanic brigadier general in Army history. In his autobiography, the late Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf called Cavazos one of the finest division commanders he had ever served under.

Retired Gen. Carter F. Ham, president and CEO of the Association of the U.S. Army, said of Cavazos' Oct. 29 death, "America's Army lost a giant."

"Many of my generation came to know him as the leading senior mentor for the Army's then-Battle Command Training Program, where divisions and corps were rigorously trained and tested. Gen. Cavazos was truly a soldier's soldier and he made everyone he encountered better. A legendary leader, a true patriot, all across our Army will miss him."

Cavazos received the Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross in the Korean War, making him one of the five members of Puerto Rico's 65 th Infantry Regiment to receive the Distinguished Service Cross and one of 125 to receive Silver Stars during their service in Korea, according to the Army's Center for Military History. The famed regiment was known as the Borinqueneers.

He also was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross in Vietnam, where he was commander of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry. His citation says he exposed himself to hostile fire and exploding grenades while moving among his troops to direct a counterattack after his unit faced heavy fire while on a search and destroy operation. At one point, he led an assault on enemy positions that "was carried out with such force and aggressiveness that the Viet Cong were overrun and fled their trenches."

Cavazos' final military assignment was command of the U.S. Army Forces Command. "His early support for the National Training Center and his involvement in the development of the Battle Command Training Program enormously influenced the war fighting capabilities of the U.S. Army. General Cavazos' career exemplifies unparalleled devotion to duty," according to an Army biography.

Cavazos retired in 1984 after 33 years of Army service, and he continued to mentor young general officers. …

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