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First Name: Richard

Last Name: Cavazos

Birthplace: Kingsville, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Edward

Date of Birth: 31 January 1929

Date of Death: 29 October 2017

Rank: General

Years Served: 1951-1984
Richard Edward Cavazos

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Richard Edward Cavazos
General, U.S. Army

Richard Edward Cavazos, a Mexican-American, was born on 31 January 1929 in Kingsville, TX. He graduated from the North Texas Agricultural College (now the University of Texas at Arlington) ROTC program in 1949. He then earned a Bachelor of Science 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.

He attended the Basic Infantry Officer Course at the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, GA, followed by training at U.S. Army Airborne School. 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.

Korean War

During the Korean War, as a First Lieutenant and member of the 65th Infantry, a unit of mostly Puerto Rican natives, Cavazos distinguished himself, receiving the Silver Star and the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his heroic actions.

On 25 February 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. On 14 June 1953, Cavazos again distinguished himself during an attack on Hill 142, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, for his extraordinary valor.

Vietnam War

In February 1967, then-Lieutenant Colonel Cavazos became Commander of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry. In October and November 1967, his battalion was engaged in fighting near the Cambodian border. During an attack at Loc Ninh on 30 October 1967, his unit was able to repulse the enemy. For his valiant leadership at Loc Ninh, he was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Distinguished Service Cross.


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. In 1980, he became Commander of III Corps - and is recognized for his innovative leadership of the Corps.

In 1982, Cavazos again made history by being appointed the U.S. Army's first Hispanic four-star General. 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.

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

In Retirement

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


General Cavazos was married, had four children and lived in Texas. He is the brother of former U.S. Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos.

Medals, Awards, Badges & Tabs

Distinguished Service Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor Device and 4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with Combat Valor Device and Numeral 9
Army Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
Korean Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm and Gold Star
United Nations Service Medal
United Nations Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Army Valorous Unit Award
Army Superior Unit Award
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge with Star (2 Awards: Korea & Vietnam)
Parachutist Badge
Office of Secretary of Defense Identification Badge
Army Staff Identification Badge
Ranger Tab

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (1st Award)

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Richard E. Cavazos (ASN: 0-64593), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while as Company Commander of Company E, 2d Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. First Lieutenant Cavazos distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Sagimak, Korea, on the night of 14 June 1953. On that date, Lieutenant Cavazos led his men in a raid on the entrenched enemy upon whom heavy casualties were inflicted. When a heavy barrage was laid on the position by the enemy, Lieutenant Cavazos withdrew the company and regrouped his men. Lieutenant Cavazos three times led the company through the heavy barrage in assaults on the enemy position, each time destroying vital enemy equipment and personnel. When the United Nations element was ordered to withdraw, Lieutenant Cavazos remained alone on the enemy outpost to search the area for missing men. Exposed to heavy hostile fire, Lieutenant Cavazos located five men who had been wounded in the action. He evacuated them, one at a time, to a point on the reverse slope of the hill from which they could be removed to the safety of the friendly lines. Lieutenant Cavazos then made two more trips between the United Nations position and the enemy-held hill searching for casualties and evacuating scattered groups of men who had become confused. Not until he was assured that the hill was cleared did he allow treatment of his own wounds sustained during the action.

General Orders: Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea: General Orders No. 832 (September 10, 1953)

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (2nd Award)

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry) Richard E. Cavazos (ASN: 0-64593), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 3d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. Lieutenant Colonel Cavazos distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 30 October 1967 while, as battalion commander, he led his unit on a search and destroy operation in a large rubber plantation near Loc Ninh. One of his companies was making a reconnaissance when it suddenly began receiving heavy fire from a Viet Cong battalion in well-entrenched positions on the slope of a hill. Colonel Cavazos immediately led his other elements forward and engaged the enemy forces as they began assaulting the company. Constantly exposed to savage hostile fire and shrapnel from exploding grenades, he moved among his troops directing a counterattack. As the Viet Cong broke contact and fled to their fortified positions on the hillside, Colonel Cavazos called for air strikes and artillery fire on the crest and forward slopes of the hill in order to cut off the insurgents' line of retreat. When the fighting reached such close quarters that supporting fire could no longer be used, he completely disregarded his own safety and personally led a determined assault on the enemy positions. The assault was carried out with such force and aggressiveness that the Viet Cong were overrun and fled their trenches. Colonel Cavazos then directed artillery fire on the hilltop, and the insurgents were destroyed as they ran. His brilliant leadership in the face of grave danger resulted in maximum enemy casualties and the capture of many hostile weapons. Lieutenant Colonel Cavazos' extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 6479 (December 17, 1967)

Silver Star Medal Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Richard E. Cavazos (ASN: 0-64593), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company E, 2d Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. During the early morning hours of 25 February 1953, Company E, of which Lieutenant Cavazos was a platoon leader, was attacked by a large enemy force in the vicinity of Sangdong-Ni, Korea. The friendly company repulsed the hostile assault and inflicted numerous casualties. By the light of a flare, Lieutenant Cavazos observed an enemy soldier lying wounded not far to the front of his position. He requested and obtained permission to lead a small force to secure the prisoner. Intense enemy mortar and small arms fire completely blanketed the route to be covered. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Cavazos, with complete disregard for his personal safety, continued alone through the enemy fire to capture and return with the enemy soldier. Lieutenant Cavazos' outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself and the military service.

General Orders: Headquarters, 3d Infantry Division, General Orders No. 194 ( June 18, 1953)


• Awarded an honorary lifetime membership in the National Guard Association of Texas

• Inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame

• Inducted into the Ranger Regiment Association Hall of Fame

• 1991 recipient of the Doughboy Award from the National Infantry Association

• On 6 October 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that he had approved Fort Hood (Texas) to be renamed Fort Cavazos. The new name must be finalized by 1 January 2024.

Death and Burial

General Richard Edward Cavazos died on 29 October 2017 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. He is buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Bexar County, TX.


Honoree ID: 202   Created by: MHOH




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