Russel L. Honoré

Russel L. Honoré (/ˈɒnər/ ON-ər-ay; born September 15, 1947)[1][2] is a retired lieutenant general who served as the 33rd commanding general of the U.S. First Army at Fort Gillem, Georgia. He is best known for serving as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina–affected areas across the Gulf Coast and as the 2nd Infantry Division's commander while stationed in South Korea. He served until his retirement from the Army on January 11, 2008.[3] Honoré is sometimes known as "The Ragin' Cajun".[4]

Russel Honoré
Honore 300.jpg
Nickname(s)"The Ragin' Cajun"
Born (1947-09-15) September 15, 1947 (age 75)
Lakeland, Louisiana, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1971–2008
RankUS Army O9 shoulderboard rotated.svg Lieutenant general
Commands heldFirst Army
2nd Infantry Division
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (5)

Early life and educationEdit

A native of Lakeland in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, and 9th of 12 children, born to a Louisiana Créole family who settled in Pointe Coupée Parish.[5] The Honoré family surname is still found among the Cane River Créoles.

Honoré earned a B.S. in vocational agriculture from Southern University and A&M College in 1971. He also holds an M.A. in human resources from Troy University as well as an honorary D.P.A. from Southern University and A&M College. He has received leadership development training from the international civilian Center for Creative Leadership.[6]


Prior to his appointment on July 15, 2004, as Commander, First United States Army, Honoré served in a variety of command and staff positions in South Korea and Germany. He served as Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea; Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.; Deputy Commanding General and Assistant Commandant, United States Army Infantry Center and School, Fort Benning, Georgia; and Assistant Division Commander, Maneuver/Support, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

On June 13, 2002, in South Korea, soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division were on a training mission near the North Korean border when their vehicle hit and killed two 14-year-old girls on a narrow public road. In July 2002, the U.S. military indicted Sgt. Mark Walker and Sgt. Fernando Nino on charges of negligent homicide. They were later found not guilty. Honoré (then a major general) responded by visiting the victims' parents and promising the U.S. military would build a memorial near the accident site to honor the girls.

On January 15, 2021, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Honoré would lead a review of security failures following the U.S. Capitol attack that will focus on "security infrastructure, interagency processes and procedures, and command and control".[7][8]

Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane RitaEdit

On August 31, 2005, Honoré was designated commander of Joint Task Force Katrina responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas across the Gulf Coast. Honoré's arrival in New Orleans came after what was widely believed to be a poor performance by state and local agencies,[clarification needed] the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its director Michael D. Brown.[citation needed] He gained media celebrity and accolades for his apparent turning around of the situation in the city as well as his gruff management style which contrasted with what many felt were the empty platitudes of civilian officials. In one widely played video clip, Honoré was seen on the streets New Orleans, barking orders to subordinates and, in one case, berating local police officers who were displaying their weapons as they rode past him. "Weapons down! Weapons down, damn it!" Honoré shouted.[9] New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was quoted on a radio interview on September 1, 2005, saying: "Now, I will tell you this—and I give the president some credit on this—he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is Gen. Honoré. And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done."[10] Stars and Stripes, the unofficial newspaper of the United States Armed Forces, reported that Honoré had previous experience dealing with flooding at many South Korean bases during monsoon season and supervised the installation of flood control measures.

On September 20, 2005, at a press conference with Nagin on Hurricane Rita, Honoré made headlines nationwide when he told a reporter not to get "stuck on stupid" in reference to a question about the government response to Hurricane Katrina.[11]

Hurricane Maria commentsEdit

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Honoré described the situation in the U.S. territory as being "like a war" and said it was significantly worse than New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.[12] Honoré criticized the Trump administration's response to the crisis, saying it demanded a greater and more rapid response, with a larger commitment of U.S. troops to provide emergency assistance,[13] and told CNN anchor Erin Burnett.

U.S. Capitol attack security reviewEdit

As a result of the 2021 United States Capitol attack, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on January 15, 2021, that Honoré would lead an investigation into the incident.[14] He suggested that fencing should be installed and discussed shortcomings in security.[15] He was vocal on Twitter about the response of the United States Capitol Police officers, calling it a "s**t show".[16]

In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi by Representative Matt Gaetz, he was criticized for statements he made in regards to certain members of Congress, specifically for Senator Josh Hawley to be "run out of D.C." and Representative Lauren Boebert needing to be put on a no fly list.[17][18]


In late August 2009, there were reports that Honoré would run for U.S. Senate in 2010 in his native Louisiana as a Republican against incumbent Republican Senator David Vitter.[19] On August 31, when asked on CNN about the reports, Honoré expressed admiration for individuals who aspire to serve in public office but said that he had no plans to seek the Senate seat, as he was unlikely to win with the viewpoints he currently holds.

Personal lifeEdit

Honoré describes himself as an "African-American Creole", a combination that includes French, African, American Indian and Spanish ancestry.[20] He was raised Catholic.[21][22]

During the halftime of the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on December 30, 2005, Honoré was honored with the Omar N. Bradley "Spirit of Independence Award" because of his leadership in the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Honoré was also awarded the Key to the City Award to New Orleans in Recognition of his Exemplary Military Service during the third anniversary of Katrina ceremonies.[citation needed]

Honoré resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife, Beverly, and their four children.[23] He founded GreenARMY, an environmental group, and has criticized excessive groundwater use by ExxonMobil and Georgia-Pacific in Baton Rouge, and their close relationship with the Capital Area Groundwater Conservation Commission that oversees and regulates water use by these corporations.[24]

Awards and decorationsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Martin, Michel (29 August 2007). "Wisdom Watch: Lt. Gen. Russel Honore". NPR. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  2. ^ Honoré, Russel (May 5, 2009). Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters. ISBN 9781439101810. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  3. ^ Bluestein, Greg (January 8, 2008). "Katrina General Retiring from the Army". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 11, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2008.
  4. ^ "Ragin' Cajuns" is also the trademarked nickname of the athletic teams of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
  5. ^ Honoré, Russel L.; Martz, Ron (2009), Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters, p. 26, ISBN 9781416599005, retrieved 10 June 2015
  6. ^ "Home".
  7. ^ Muller, Wesley (January 15, 2021). "Louisiana-native Gen. Russel Honoré to investigate security failures at U.S. Capitol". Louisiana Illuminator. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  8. ^ Choi, Joseph (January 17, 2021). "Retired Army general: 'We can't have demonstrators showing up at a state Capitol with damn long guns'". Blaze News.
  9. ^ "NOLA's Superdome: From devastation to recovery". CBS News. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  10. ^ "Jackson Free Press | Transcript: New Orleans' Mayor C. Ray Nagin's Interview". Archived from the original on May 18, 2006. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  11. ^ Fox News Story 8/29/06. Fox News.
  12. ^ "Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who led Katrina relief, slams response to Puerto Rico". CBS News. September 29, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  13. ^ "Puerto Rico Relief Effort Replays Scene From Katrina, Retired General Says". National Public Radio. September 28, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  14. ^ "Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to head investigation of Capitol riot". CNBC. 16 January 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Retired Lt. General Honoré discusses why threats to the Capitol were ignored". CNBC. 15 April 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Pelosi tasks retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré with leading review of Capitol security". National Broadcasting Corporation. January 15, 2021. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  17. ^ "Matt Gaetz leads GOP charge against "bigot" Russel Honoré, head of Capitol security review". Newsweek. 2021-03-03. Retrieved 2021-12-05.
  18. ^ @JudiciaryGOP (2021-03-02). "🚨 #Breaking: @RepMattGaetz, and Judiciary Committee Republicans, blast @SpeakerPelosi's appointment of LTG Russel H…" (Tweet). Retrieved 2021-12-05 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ "General Russell Honore To Run Vs David Vitter In Louisiana US Race?". Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  20. ^ "Katrina: The Aftermath: First Army's 'Ragin' Cajun'". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 14, 2005.
  21. ^ Townsend, Beth (2015-07-03). "Cover Story: Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré". Retrieved 2021-01-17.
  22. ^ "Honoré, Russel L. |". Retrieved 2021-01-17.
  23. ^ Baton Rouge LA
  24. ^ Sneath, Sara (2022-06-08). "Industry overpumping of Baton Rouge groundwater could pollute the supply for residents". Louisiana Illuminator. Retrieved 2022-06-18.

External linksEdit