Richard E. Cavazos

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Richard E. Cavazos
General Richard E. Cavazos
Born (1929-01-31) January 31, 1929 (age 88)
Kingsville, Texas, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch U.S. Army
Years of service 1951-1984
Rank US-O10 insignia.svgGeneral
Unit 65th Infantry (Korean War)
Commands held

1st Battalion, 18th Infantry (1967)
2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry (1976)

9th Infantry Division (1977–1980)
III Corps (1980–1982)
FORSCOM (1982–1984)
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross (2) Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device (5)
Purple Heart
Air Medal with Valor Device (9)
Other work Texas Tech Board of Regents

Richard Edward Cavazos (born January 31, 1929), a Korean War recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross as a first lieutenant, who advanced in rank to become the United States Army's first Hispanic four-star general.[1] During the Vietnam War, as a lieutenant colonel, Cavazos was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross. In 1976, Cavazos became the first Mexican American to reach the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army.[2] Cavazos served with great distinction for thirty-three years, with his final command as head of the U.S. Army Forces Command.


Richard Cavazos, a Mexican-American[3] was born on January 31, 1929 in Kingsville, Texas. His brother is U.S. Secretary of Education (1988-1990) Lauro Cavazos. He graduated as the distinguished graduate from the ROTC program at Texas Technological University in 1951.[4] He then earned a B.S. degree in geology from Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in 1951, where he played on the football team and was a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program.[5] He received further military education at the U.S. Army Command and Staff College, the British Army Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.[6] He received basic officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia, followed by training at Airborne School. He then deployed to Korea with the 65th Infantry.

Korean War[edit]

During the Korean War, as a member of the 65th Infantry, a unit of mostly Puerto Rican natives, he distinguished himself, receiving the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions.

On February 25, 1953, Cavazos' Company E was attacked by the enemy. During the fight against a numerically superior enemy force, Cavazos distinguished himself and received the Silver Star for his actions. His company was able to emerge victorious from the battle.[2] On June 14, 1953, Cavazos again distinguished himself during an attack on Hill 142, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions on that day.[2]

Distinguished Service Cross citation (first award)[edit]

On September 10, 1953, per General Orders No. 832, Cavazos was awarded his first Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the Korean War. His citation reads:

Vietnam War[edit]

In February 1967, Cavazos, then a lieutenant colonel, became commander of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry.[1] In October and November 1967, his battalion was engaged in fighting near the Cambodian border. During an attack at Loc Ninh in October 1967, his unit was able to repulse the enemy. For his valiant leadership at Loc Ninh, he was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross.

Distinguished Service Cross citation (second award)[edit]

On December 17, 1967, per General Orders No. 6479, Lieutenant Colonel Cavazos was awarded his second Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on October 30, 1967. His citation reads:


After Vietnam, Cavazos served as commander of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and commander, 9th Infantry Division.

In 1976, Cavazos became the first Hispanic to reach the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army.[2] In 1980, he became commander of III Corps — and is recognized for his innovative leadership of the Corps.[9]

In 1982, Cavazos again made military history by being appointed the Army's first Hispanic four-star general.[1] The same year, Cavazos assumed command of the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). 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.[9]

On June 17, 1984, after thirty three years of distinguished service, General Cavazos retired from the U.S. Army.

In retirement[edit]

In 1985, Cavazos was appointed to the Chemical Warfare Review Committee by President Reagan. Cavazos served on the Board of Regents of his alma mater, Texas Tech University.


Cavazos is married and has four children. He resides in San Antonio Texas. He is the brother of Lauro Cavazos, former Texas Tech University President and former U.S. Secretary of Education.[10]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Cavazos' military awards include two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Silver Star,[11] two Legion of Merit awards, five Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, a Parachutist Badge. Cavazos has also been awarded an honorary lifetime membership in the National Guard Association of Texas; was inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame and Ranger Regiment Association Hall of Fame; and received the Doughboy Award of National Infantry Association, 1991.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Archived November 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine..
  2. ^ a b c d e Hispanic Heritage Biographies.
  3. ^ Villahermosa, Army Magazine, 2002.
  4. ^ Richard Cavazos Hall of Honor
  5. ^ "Traditions: Texas Tech Hall of Honor (Last name A-D)". Texas Tech University. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  6. ^ Cavazos profile, Hispanic Americans in the U.S. Army.
  7. ^ "Cavazos, Richard E. (First Citation)". Korean War Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross. Archived from the original on 2006-09-21. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  8. ^ "Cavazos, Richard E. (Second Citation)". Vietnam War Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross hey yall how you doing. Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  9. ^ a b CGSC profile.
  10. ^
  11. ^ 1st Lieutenant Cavazos, Silver Star citation.


  • "Richard E. Cavazos". Hispanic Heritage — Biographies. Thomson Gale. 2003. Retrieved 2007-01-17.