Shalikashvili Suffers Stroke
Retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now an adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, has been hospitalized in Washington state after a severe stroke, Pentagon officials said Monday. After falling ill at his home in Steilacoom, Washington, Shalikashvili was admitted Saturday morning to Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, officials said. The general was in guarded condition Monday in an intensive care unit, according to hospital spokeswoman Sharon Ayala.
Shalikashvili, 68, was born in Poland and came to the United States at age 16 in 1952, according to The Associated Press. He became the first foreign-born chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he was named to that post in 1993. He served until his retirement in 1997. At a gathering honoring Shalikashvili at that time, President Clinton said, “He never minced words, he never postured or pulled punches, he never shied away from tough issues or tough calls, and most important, he never shied away from doing what he believed was the right thing,” according to the AP.
Before serving as the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, he was NATO’s 10th supreme allied commander in Europe. He enlisted in the Army in 1958 and rose through the ranks, serving in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 and heading up a 1991 international relief operation that airlifted food for Kurds in northern Iraq as well as providing them with protection.
A shame. I hope the general recovers. I’m no fan of his politics or most of the military operations that we engaged in during his tenure as JCS Chairman, but he has always struck me as a decent and honorable man.
My only personal encounter with him occured shortly after he pinned on his third star. He was Deputy Commander-in-Chief, United States Army, Europe and Seventh Army and came to address the officers of our brigade in Babenhausen, Germany a couple months after I reported for my first assignment. I frankly don’t recall much of what he said; it was the standard feel-good stuff that generals say when giving canned talks to significantly junior officers. Still, when he was elevated to the top NATO job and later the JCS Chairman’s job when I had left the Army and was in graduate school, I followed him a bit more closely than normal because he was “my” general.