The Florida Panthers held a moment of silence in honor of U.S. Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who was their chairman and alternate governor since 2017, before a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday.
Odierno died Friday following a battle with cancer. He was 67.
Odierno commanded U.S. forces in Iraq during three tours of duty. In 2003, he helped organize and lead the capture of Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein. He finished his 39-year military career serving as Army chief of staff.
“Ray was a giant in military circles — dedicated first and always to the service members he commanded and served alongside. And through almost four decades of service to our nation in uniform, he helped grow the United States Army into the modern fighting force it is today,” President Joe Biden said in a statement issued by the White House on Saturday. “We can think of no person who better encapsulated that basic creed of duty, honor, country than General Ray Odierno. He made our entire nation better, stronger, and more secure. We are keeping his beloved wife Linda, their children Tony, Mike, and Katie, and their grandchildren in our prayers.”
Odierno was the commanding officer of the president’s late son, Beau Biden, and delivered the eulogy at his funeral in 2015.
Odierno’s intelligence, decisiveness and leadership made him a must-hire for Panthers owner Vincent Viola.
“General Odierno is an accomplished diplomat, general, sportsman, business executive and a bona fide American hero,” Viola said of the hiring in 2017. “His vision and advice have been instrumental in empowering (general manager) Dale (Tallon’s) leadership and providing our hockey operations department with the necessary tools to get us moving in a championship direction again.”
A native of Rockaway, New Jersey, Odierno graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1976. He filled a wide range of roles for the Army and the Department of Defense, eventually working his way up to four-star general. Later, he would become the top adviser to the secretary of state. He retired from the Army in 2015.