Russel L. Honoré

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Russel Honoré
Honore 300.jpg
Nickname(s)"The Ragin' Cajun"
Born1947 (age 71–72)
Lakeland, Louisiana, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1971–2008
RankUS Army O9 shoulderboard rotated.svg Lieutenant general
Commands heldFirst Army
2nd Infantry Division
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (5)
WebsiteOfficial website

Russel L. Honoré (/ˈɒnər/ ON-ər-ay; born 1947) is a retired lieutenant general who served as the 33rd commanding general of the U.S. First Army at Fort Gillem, Georgia. He is best known for serving as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina–affected areas across the Gulf Coast and as the 2nd Infantry Division's commander while stationed in South Korea. He served until his retirement from the Army on January 11, 2008.[1] Honoré is sometimes known as "The Ragin' Cajun",[2] although he is actually of Louisiana Creole descent with a West Indies background, whose family came through the port of New Orleans and settled in the Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana.[3] The Honoré family surname is still found among the Cane River Créoles.

Early life and education[edit]

A native of Lakeland in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, and youngest of 12 children, Honoré earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational Agriculture from Southern University and A&M College in 1971. He also holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources from Troy State University as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration from Southern University and A&M College. He has received leadership development training from the international civilian Center for Creative Leadership.[4]


Prior to his appointment on July 15, 2004 as Commander, First United States Army, Honoré served in a variety of command and staff positions in South Korea and Germany. He served as Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea; Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.; Deputy Commanding General and Assistant Commandant, United States Army Infantry Center and School, Fort Benning, Georgia; and Assistant Division Commander, Maneuver/Support, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

On June 13, 2002, in South Korea, soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division were on a training mission near the North Korean border when their vehicle hit two 14-year-old girls on a narrow public road. In July 2002, the U.S. military indicted Sgt. Mark Walker and Sgt. Fernando Nino on charges of negligent homicide. They were later found not guilty. Honoré (then a major general) responded by visiting the victims' parents and promising the U.S. military would build a memorial near the accident site to honor the girls.

Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita[edit]

On August 31, 2005, Honoré was designated commander of Joint Task Force Katrina responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas across the Gulf Coast. Honoré's arrival in New Orleans came after what was widely believed to be a poor performance by the state and local agencies[clarification needed] and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its director Michael D. Brown.[citation needed] He gained media celebrity and accolades for his apparent turning around of the situation in the city as well as his gruff management style which contrasted with what many felt were the empty platitudes of civilian officials. In one widely played clip, Honoré was seen on the streets of the city, barking orders to subordinates and, in one case, berating a soldier who displayed a weapon, telling him "We're on a rescue mission, damn it!" New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was quoted on a radio interview September 1, 2005, saying: "Now, I will tell you this—and I give the president some credit on this—he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is Gen. Honoré. And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done."[5] Stars and Stripes, the unofficial newspaper of the United States Armed Forces, reported that Honoré had previous experience dealing with flooding at many South Korean bases during monsoon season and supervised the installation of flood control measures.

On September 20, 2005, at a press conference with Nagin on Hurricane Rita, Honoré made headlines nationwide when he told a reporter not to get "stuck on stupid" in reference to a question about the government response to Hurricane Katrina.[6]

Hurricane Maria comments[edit]

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Honoré described the situation in the U.S. territory as being "like a war" and said it was significantly worse than New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.[7] Honoré criticized the Trump administration's response to the crisis, saying it demanded a greater and more rapid response, with a larger commitment of U.S. troops to provide emergency assistance,[8] and told CNN anchor Erin Burnett, "The president has shown again he don't give a damn about poor people. He doesn't give a damn about people of color."[9]


In late August 2009, there were reports that Honoré would run for U.S. Senate in 2010 in his native Louisiana as a Republican against incumbent Republican Senator David Vitter.[10] On August 31, when asked point-blank on CNN about the reports, Honoré expressed admiration for individuals who aspire to serve in public office but said that he had no plans to seek the Senate seat.

Personal life[edit]

Honoré describes himself an "African-American Creole", a combination that includes French, African, American Indian and Spanish ancestry.[11]

During the halftime of the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on December 30, 2005, Honoré was honored with the Omar N. Bradley "Spirit of Independence Award" because of his leadership in the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Honoré was also awarded the Key to the City Award to New Orleans in Recognition of his Exemplary Military Service during the third anniversary of Katrina ceremonies.[citation needed]

He resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife, Beverly and their four children, two sons: Sergeant Michael Honore and First Lieutenant Steven Honore and two daughters, Stephanie and Kimberly.

Awards and decorations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bluestein, Greg (January 8, 2008). "Katrina General Retiring from the Army". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 11, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2008.
  2. ^ "Ragin' Cajuns" is also the trademarked nickname of the athletic teams of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
  3. ^ Honoré, Russel L.; Martz, Ron (2009), Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters, p. 26, ISBN 9781416599005, retrieved 10 June 2015
  4. ^
  5. ^ Jackson Free Press | Transcript: New Orleans’ Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s Interview Archived 2006-05-18 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Fox News Story 8/29/06. Fox News.
  7. ^ "Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who led Katrina relief, slams response to Puerto Rico". CBS News. September 29, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  8. ^ "Puerto Rico Relief Effort Replays Scene From Katrina, Retired General Says". National Public Radio. September 28, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  9. ^ Summers, Juana (September 30, 2017). "Trump attacks San Juan mayor over hurricane response". CNN. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  10. ^ General Russell Honore To Run Vs David Vitter In Louisiana US Race? Archived 2009-09-01 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Katrina: The Aftermath: First Army's 'Ragin' Cajun'". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 14, 2005.

External links[edit]