Gen. Donald A. Starry, USA, Ret., who began his service in the U.S. Army as a private during World War II and rose to the rank of four-star general to command U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and U.S. Readiness Command, died after a lengthy illness in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 26. He was 86.
Known as a great soldier, scholar, mentor, author and visionary, Starry, after serving two years as a private, entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1948 as a second lieutenant in the Transportation Corps. He eventually became an armor officer.
Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., president of the Association of the United States Army, said, “ The nation has lost one of our most courageous, selfless, perspective and innovative Army leaders. His accomplishments are many and his legacy is found in the very being of countless American soldiers.”
Adding, “General Starry will be missed. Our sympathy is extended to the Starry family.”
As TRADOC commanding general from 1977 to 1981, he is credited with becoming the architect and author of the AirLand Battle Doctrine that evolved into the Army’s 21century warfighting doctrine -- to fight and win the wars of today and tomorrow.
As part of that doctrine, he directed the efforts to create the National Training Center where the precepts of the AirLand Battle Doctrine could be tested by soldiers against a well-trained opposing force.
At a ceremony at the Combined Arms Research Library at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where Starry presented his papers, titled “Press On,” he said, “All we were trying to do was build an Army that could go to war and our soldiers would win.”
As reported in a Fort Leavenworth news release following the ceremony: “He was extremely impressed with how his efforts resulted in transforming the Army from Vietnam to the Army that debuted in Desert Storm.”
During his four decades of military service, Starry commanded the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam and led its attack into Cambodia in 1970.
He also commanded the U.S. Army Armor Center and School, Fort Knox, Ky., and V Corps in Germany.
His award citation from West Point in 2009, where he was named a Distinguished Graduate, said of his leadership while commanding V Corps: “… his depth and breadth of strategic and tactical knowledge significantly contributed to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.”
He was also recognized for being instrumental in fielding the Abrams tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle, the Apache and Black Hawk helicopters and the Patriot Missile System.
Starry retired in 1983 as commander of U.S. Readiness Command.