Kelly gave a statement on behalf of the Odiorno family confirming his death.
“It is with deep regret that I can confirm the death of General Raymond T. Odierno on October 8, 2021,” the Odierno family statement said. “The general died after a brave battle with cancer; his death was not related to COVID. No other details to share at this time.”
It continued: “His family is grateful for the concern and demands privacy. Information on funeral service and intervention is not yet available.”
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement on Saturday, “We cannot think of anyone who has better explained the duty, the honor, the nation’s core creed than General Ray Odierno. He made our entire country better, stronger and more secure.”
Odirno retired in 2015 after more than 37 years of military service, which included a deployment to Europe and three visits to Iraq.
He commanded the 4th Infantry Division from October 2001 to June 2004, leading the division at the start of the Iraq War.
“There are times when you run into people as dependable, values, and courageous as Ray Odiorno. And physically he was a man’s mountain, and emotionally he was a rock, Many of us tied ourselves up,” retired General Stanley McChrystal, who served with Odirno in Iraq, said on CNN on Saturday.
As Odierno’s first tour of Iraq ended, his son, Army Captain Tony Oderno, was seriously injured there. On August 2004, while on patrol in Baghdad, Tony Odierno’s Humavi was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, resulting in the loss of an arm.
“I think, for the first time, it gave home to a lot of people that this is the reality, it happens and it can affect anyone,” he said.
Oderno returned to Iraq as Operations Commander of Growth of Forces from 2006 to 2008, charged with stopping Iraq’s brutal insurgency and helping Iraqi troops handle his country’s security.
He later served as the Commanding General for the Multi-National Force in Iraq, later the US Army – Iraq, from September 2008 to September 2010.
He briefly served as the commander of the US Joint Forces Command before he was appointed Army Chief of Staff in 2011 by former President Barack Obama.
Obama issued a statement on Saturday expressing grief over Odierno’s passing.
“As President, I relied on Ray’s deep wisdom, steady leadership, and strong judgment. That’s why I relied on him to help come up with a plan to withdraw American combat forces from Iraq and execute it that way.” Trusted to do so that our military and the Iraqi people are safe,” the former president said.
He continued: “I was far from the only person to depend on Ray’s counsel and appreciate both his strategic and operational talents. Today, our military is strong and the world is safe for Ray to serve, and for I will always be grateful.”
Odirno was born in Rockaway, New Jersey and graduated from West Point.
Odierno is survived by his wife Linda Odierno and their three children, including retired Captain Tony Odierno.
This story has been updated with additional background information.