Washington, Grant, Patton, and Yes, Carl Stiner
One of America’s greatest military leaders ever has left our ranks.
General Carl Stiner is gone. If you don’t know of this incredible American military leader and hero, please allow me to fill in a few of the blanks.
General Stiner was born in 1936 in the small east Tennessee town of LaFollette just north of Knoxville. His father had a farm there in Campbell County and Carl grew up learning the business and preparing to live out his life doing just as his daddy did. Fortunate to have the chance to go to college, Carl graduated from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (since renamed Tennessee Technological University) and entered the Army through the university’s ROTC program as an Infantry Officer. He didn’t intend to stay in the military but with his mountain tough background he thought he’d do his time in arguably the toughest and most dangerous combat arm of the Army. Well, the rest is history — incredible history.
General Stiner met his wife Sue while he was stationed at Fort Benning, and they raised a family and traveled the world together across his 35-year military career. He fought in every war the nation presented him, including Vietnam. Special Operations was a natural for this Tennessean, so as soon as he could he volunteered and was accepted to serve in the 3rd Special Forces Group headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. From that point on he gravitated between Infantry and Special Operations over his many years of service.
His incredible leadership positions included battalion command and senior staff positions in the 82nd Airborne Division. As a two-star Major General, Carl Stiner commanded America’s (that means the world’s) most elite counter-terrorism force, the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. He went on to command the elite 82nd Airborne Division and America’s XVIII Airborne Corps. His participation and leadership in many of America’s most challenging special operations and infantry strike missions are legendary.
As a four-star general, Carl Stiner concluded his military career as Commander in Chief of United States Special Operations Command leading and employing all Army, Navy, Air Force, and now Marine special operations units.
In 1993, General Carl Stiner retired from the military and with Sue he returned to the family home in Campbell County, Tennessee. Because of his incredible expertise, Tom Clancy enlisted his help in co-authoring the now authoritative book, Shadow Warriors, Inside the Special Forces.
Soon after his retirement and when I was a three-star general, I bumped into this fellow Tennessean and asked if he could help me with a tough problem I was facing in leading America’s 3rd Armored Corps. From that day forward, this extraordinary airborne, light infantry, and special operations expert provided this heavy mechanized armor force leader and tanker with the best continuing advice of my career. I was blessed to get to know him as my senior mentor and he did more for me than all the military schools and experiences I had previously encountered.
As I led four-star commands in Europe and then in Korea, it was always Carl Stiner that I called on to give me his advice and counsel. Every time I’d call and before I’d pop the most difficult military question, I’d ask him what he was doing. Usually he’d just say, “Driving my daddy’s tractor and cutting a bit of hay.” He wasn’t kidding. I loved him.
Carl Stiner could be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with all the pomp and ceremony afforded by the United States. Most four-star generals choose that route, and they surely deserve it. But as you might expect, Carl Stiner chose to be buried this coming Saturday, 11 June, in his beloved Campbell County on a little rise at the local Powell Valley Memorial Gardens in Lafollette. Before interment, funeral services will be held at his First Baptist Church of LaFollette. Full details here.
I’ll be there to say goodbye to my friend, my fellow Tennessean, my mentor, and one of America’s great military warriors and leaders. I hope you’re there too. God rest your soul, Carl Stiner. There’s a lot of hay to be cut in heaven and I know the Good Lord is looking forward to keeping you busy on His team.
*B.B. Bell, General, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a member of The Patriot Post’s National Advisory Committee. He served in uniform for almost four decades, including extended deployments overseas in both peace and war.
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