I’ve been meaning to get to this, but the politics tsunami distracted me. Now, what with Hillary Clinton resurrected, the phrase “Don’t get stuck on stupid” seems particularly timely. Anyway, as several readers have e-mailed, the awesome general who made that phrase famous during Hurrican Katrina is retiring from the Army:
The gruff, cigar-chomping general who led federal troops into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is convinced America hasn’t learned its lesson from the storm.
As Lt. Gen. Russel Honore gets ready to retire from the Army and hand over his command on Friday, he says he wants to spend the rest of his life creating a “culture of preparedness” to prevent another post-disaster disaster.
“There’s an attitude everywhere else that people are smarter than they are in New Orleans and in Mississippi. They’re not,” the 60-year-old general said at his office at Fort Gillem, just outside Atlanta. “What happened in New Orleans could have happened anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard.”
During his 37-year Army career, Honore commanded troops in South Korea and prepared soldiers to fight in Iraq. After Katrina, the native of Lakeland, in Pointe Coupee Parish, led the vast relief convoy that rolled into New Orleans during its darkest hour. The 22,000-member force was one of the largest federal deployments in the South since the end of the Civil War.
With a green beret ###### to one side, a crisp, take-charge attitude and biting one-liners — “Don’t get stuck on stupid!” he snapped at reporters — he impressed politicians and ordinary folks alike. At news conferences, he ended sentences with the word “over,” as if transmitting over military radio.
New Orleans area blogger Laura at Pursuing Holiness pays tribute:
He was a real hero to many of us in the New Orleans metro area after Katrina. We weren’t just grateful for the convoys of supplies he brought in, but for his no-nonsense attitude when it sometimes seemed like everything was falling apart. After weeks of wielding chainsaws, doing grueling cleanup work, and seeing the media daily play up every bad thing while ignoring the good, watching the General smack down this reporter was a refreshing break.
Here’s the vid of his memorable exchange:
I wish we had more like him in Washington.