Former USAREUR deputy commander dies at 75

July 25, 2011

U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

U.S. Army Europe

Official Department of Defense photo

Senator John McCain (left), Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (center) and then-Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John M. Shalikashvili (right), U.S. Army, salute during the presentation of colors at the National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony at the Pentagon on Sept. 19, 1997.


HEIDELBERG, Germany ­– Gen. (Ret.) John Malchase David Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former U.S. Army Europe deputy commanding general, died July 23.

Shalikashvili, deputy commander of USAREUR and Seventh Army from September 1989 to August 1991, served 38 years in the Army. His several tours in Europe included service as commander of the 32nd Army Air Defense Command; as commander of 1st Armored Division Artillery and later as the division’s assistant commander; and concurrently as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and commander of the U.S. European Command from 1992-1993.

Shalikashvili was the first non-U.S.-born officer to serve as JCS Chairman. President Bill Clinton appointed General Shali, as he was often called, as the 13th chairman in 1993. He served two two-year terms before retiring in September 1997.

“From the humble beginnings of a childhood in war-torn Poland, General Shalikashvili commenced a remarkable rise from the rank of private in the U.S. Army to serving as the principal military advisor to the president and the senior military officer in the United States armed forces from 1993-1997,” said current JCS Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, in a Department of Defense statement released, July 23.

During his tenure as deputy commander of USAREUR, Shalikashvili was selected to command Operation Provide Comfort, the largest humanitarian relief effort to date, involving the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The operation provided food, clothing, shelter, medical and a safe haven for about 700,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing northern Iraq after the Persian Gulf War in April 1991. 

Shalikashvili was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1936. After living in transit camps and with relatives in Germany during World War II, he emigrated to the U.S. with his parents and two siblings, settling in Peoria, Ill. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1958; and was drafted into the Army a few months later. Shalikashvili was commissioned through the Officer Candidate School in July 1959 as a field artillery officer.

“I worked closely with John back in the Clinton administration. I came to rely on his wise counsel, his wealth of military expertise, and his candor as we were challenged by foreign policy crises in Haiti, the Balkans, and elsewhere,” said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in a DOD release, July 23.

“I will remember John as always being a stalwart advocate for the brave men and women who don the uniform and stand guard over this nation,” said Panetta.

Shalikashvili is survived by his wife, Joan, and son, Brant.

Department of Defense statements

Statement by Secretary Panetta on the passing of Gen. John Shalikashvili

Statement by Adm. Mike Mullen on the passing of Gen. John Shalikashvili

Note: This copy has been updated to attribute the quotes of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen to Department of Defense news releases dated July 23.