The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore

United States Army Lieutenant General (Retired) Russel L. Honoré, was born in September 15, 1947 to Udell and Lloyd Honoré in Lakeland, Louisiana. Honoré was the eighth of twelve children. Raised on a subsistence farm in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, Honoré was taught to value hard work. Honoré attended Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he earned his B.S. degree in vocational agriculture. After completing ROTC training at Southern University, Honoré entered the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer for the United States Army Combat Development Command in 1971.

During his 37 year career in the United States military, Honoré held a variety of positions and served in a number of commanding and supervisory positions, including Instructor at the United States Army Armor School; Commander for the C Company, 4th Battalion, 5th Infantry; and Assistant G-1 (Personnel) for the 1st Infantry Division (Forward), United States Army Europe and Seventh Army. In 1989, Honoré became the commander for the 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (Forward) in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm. Between 1999 and 2000, Honoré served as the Vice Director for Operations for the Joint Staff, where he supported the Department of Defense planning and response for Hurricane Floyd, as well as the United States’ military response to the devastating flooding in Venezuela (1999) and Mozambique (2000).

In 2004, Honoré became the 33rd commanding general of the U.S. First Army at Fort Gillem, Georgia. In this position, Honoré coordinated the U.S. military’s preparedness and response to Hurricane Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, Honoré was designated commander of Joint Task Force Katrina. Honoré’s arrival in New Orleans came after what was widely believed to be a poor performance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Honoré 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 platitude of civilian officials.

Following his retirement from the military on January 11, 2008, Honoré declared that he would spend the second half of his life committed to creating a culture of preparedness in America. In this regard, Honoré joined The Gallup Organization as a Senior Scientist; the faculties of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Nell Hodgson School of Nursing. Honoré also served as a CNN Preparedness contributor. Since 2008, Honoré has worked as a public speaker with Keppler Speakers out of Arlington, Virginia. In 2009 he wrote a popular radio segment entitled “Work is a Blessing” for National Public Radio (NPR)’s program, This I Believe. Honoré has published many written works including his 2009 book, Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters and soon to be published, War Stories: Leadership in the New Normal.

Honoré is the recipient of numerous military and civilian awards, including six honorary doctorates from schools such as Stillman College and the United States Army War College. He received the 2006 NAACP Humanitarian Award, National Newspaper Publishers Association Newsmaker of the Year Award; Defense Distinguished Service Medal; and Army Distinguished Service Medal; as well as Keys to the City for Chrisholm, Minnesota, Riverdale, Georgia, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Honoré lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife Beverly.

Russel Honoré was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 29, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.091

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

2/29/2012

Last Name

Honore

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Organizations
Schools

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Troy University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Russel

Birth City, State, Country

Lakeland

HM ID

HON01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Ignorance Can Be Fixed, Stupidity Is For Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/15/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baton Rouge

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Lieutenant general (retired) Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore (1947 - ) is an expert on emergency preparedness and is widely credited for turning around the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Katrina as the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina.

Employment

United States Army

Gallup Organization

Emory University

Vanderbilt University

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:2186,37:4945,86:5301,91:24786,287:43780,420:54418,596:61826,672:62722,681:63170,686:67594,728:71546,793:74770,830:78600,851:116155,1201:120050,1242:120410,1247:137136,1435:176485,1714:178430,1846:183880,1892:189378,1999:189768,2093:242130,2545:249929,2621:254128,2759:260902,2829:275790,3001$0,0:1056,54:12232,299:17424,400:31992,527:38157,683:38696,798:40159,827:51168,998:52473,1017:54300,1043:56040,1096:61018,1145:61508,1151:62194,1159:63174,1172:67006,1199:67638,1209:110286,1627:114720,1683:117576,1697:117928,1702:119512,1729:144657,1955:164688,2227:173622,2276:186753,2439:192580,2519:198828,2633:223848,3055:227713,3085:239190,3228:246192,3318:283251,3764:291736,3867:294578,3932:310630,4151:311470,4166:322103,4286:322751,4296:323430,4301
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31971">Tape: 1 Slating of Lieutenant General Russel Honore's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31972">Tape: 1 Lieutenant General Russel Honore lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31973">Tape: 1 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31974">Tape: 1 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes his family's Creole culture</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31975">Tape: 1 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31976">Tape: 1 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about floods in Louisiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31977">Tape: 1 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31978">Tape: 1 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31979">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31980">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31981">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his siblings and his household</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31982">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes his earliest memory growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31983">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his grade school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31984">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about the differences between Creoles and African Americans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31985">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31986">Tape: 2 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his involvement in the 4-H Club</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31987">Tape: 3 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his involvement in 4-H during high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31988">Tape: 3 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his lack of athletic ability</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31989">Tape: 3 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes the mentors who directed him towards college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31990">Tape: 3 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes why he chose to attend Southern University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31991">Tape: 3 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his high school peers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31992">Tape: 3 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his leadership in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31993">Tape: 3 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31994">Tape: 4 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes working for his cousin while at Southern University pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31995">Tape: 4 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes working for his cousin while at Southern University pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31996">Tape: 4 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about how he came to own a horse during college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31997">Tape: 4 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his cousin Raymond Honore</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31998">Tape: 4 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about Dr. Booker T. Whatley at Southern University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/31999">Tape: 4 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his ROTC teachers at Southern University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/32000">Tape: 4 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about his mentors at Southern University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/32001">Tape: 5 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about Felton G. Clark pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/32002">Tape: 5 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about Felton G. Clark pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/32003">Tape: 5 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about the sit-ins at Southern University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/32004">Tape: 5 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes his time in the ROTC at Southern University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/32005">Tape: 5 Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about the Vietnam War</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/32006">Tape: 5 Lieutenant General Russel Honore describes why he chose a career in the Army</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about the sit-ins at Southern University
Lieutenant General Russel Honore talks about the Vietnam War
Transcript
Do you kind of reflect on that time, from time to time, and about how that, you know, this crisis--?$$Oh, yeah. I mean, let's say we go from-- We had a ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corp] student got shot. I mean, this was right across from the ROTC building. I think I was on my first assignment when I read about this in the paper. The students were doing a sit-in at the old Administration Building, and they said, "We got to break this sit-in up." So the college police went there and the sheriff came in, and they said, "You know we got people shot over a sit-in on campus." I was already in the Army, and that was--that was pretty disturbing.$$I think two students were shot, what, in 1970?$$Right.$$On campus.$$That was most unfortunate.$$There was a mysterious-- They never found who shot them or never been an arrest.$$So, I mean, those things left an indelible mark on the university. I remember being in my dorm and again, from a sit-in, the sheriff come in, you could see the scenario. They got these old armored cars, and they had these gas masks on, and you go from a sit-in to damn near a riot where people shooting--with them shooting tear gas and running people down the street, dogs running after them. And in many cases it was over a sit-in. And they said, "Power to People." And that was most disturbing. I always remember that one, right there on the campus. People running and--to get away from that tear gas, and closing my window and hunkering down in my-- Two hours later, you never knew it happened but other than a few sheriff cars around.$$When you look back on that, do you think they could have--the authorities could have handled it a different way?$$Oh, yeah. I didn't (unclear), I think both sides got what they wanted or thought they got what they wanted, because people in our community say that the only way, if it takes me sacrificing myself for this movement [Civil Rights Movement] in that the police may, who think they're doing the right thing and coming in with overwhelming force to break up a sit-in, that at the end of the day, that truth will be on our side, that we were sitting in for basic inalienable rights promised to us by the Declaration of Independence, that history will be on our side. On the other hand, the police in their own historical way of using force, say, "No, you cannot assemble, you do not have a permit to be here, and we're just going to beat the hell out of you until you leave or put you in jail." And, you know, it's almost like we bred that in the police forces, 'cause they have a tendency to go back, right to that jungle rule, that soon as something happen, break out the batons, get the sticks out and start beating the hell out of people. And I'm speaking that as a generality, 'cause I know not every police department think that way, but it seem to be a representation of many of them, because we have never come to grips with how our law enforcement deal with civil disobedience in this country.$There weren't that many voices in the black community that, you know, came out against the war [Vietnam War], but I know, in '67 [1967] or so, Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] came out against it.$$Yeah, he did.$$And was, you know, criticized by the [President Lyndon B.] Johnson Administration, "How could he betray his country by speaking out against the Vietnam War?" But there are a lot of people that thought that the war was--$$Yeah, going on too long.$$--yeah, in a way, you know--(unclear) (simultaneous).$$I mean, back then that was the longest war we ever participated in, and they weren't going nowhere.$$Yeah, for right reasons, we weren't there for the right reasons and that sort of thing, you know.$$Yeah.$$And so, did you have to--. I mean, did you have any--what were--. In those days, so you--. How did you feel about it in those days? Were you following that critique of it or did you--.$$No. Certainly, I was aware of the critique and--$$Aside from the heckling aspect that people--.$$Right.$$That kind of thing is one thing, but the critique of it, by, I mean, like, Dr. King.$$Yeah. No, I mean, again, it's one of the first lessons that, at the national and global issue, there are many ways to look at the appreciation of the problem we face. The more global, the more international we get, it becomes more complex. And there are no simple answers. I mean, we went in to Vietnam with all the right reasons. Our fear of Communist exploitation, and what was then identified as a domino effect in Asia. Well, you know, fifty thousand troops later, we still, you know, what's going on? This is not changing. And you got an endless flow of troops out of China who, at that time, was a kingmaker, and still is today, and who's a part of the National Security Council on what they will and will not support. And, through a restraining, a lot of people who did not want this to escalate to a nuclear event between China and the U.S. and Russia, we needed to get out of Vietnam. And I think those voices of discontent about staying there had an influence on the government, which is about the way a democracy is supposed to work. The people speak and the government can get in the war, but it's the people that force them out. We'll always find a reason to stay.$$Okay. And we're in two wars now, war one just ended and this--$$Right. It's going to the people that get us out of Afghanistan, because there's always folks who, "Oh, just give us two more years," and many of them are folks that come from the same cut of cloth I come from. "Give us two more years, get a few more billion dollars." But there come a time that each one of these things has got to be over with.$$Okay.$$And I think, in a positive way, Dr. King helped influence that movement that it was time to leave Vietnam.$$As a soldier--a soldier has to think a little bit differently about the war, right? I mean (unclear)(simultaneous).$$Yeah, because your mission is to fight it. I mean, your mission is to win it. It's to fight and win, that's your mission. And there's nothing short of fighting and winning. And that's why we exist. And, even though there may be discontent as there's always discontent with war. And there was discontent among Americans over even fighting the Revolutionary War against the British. There are people who are content say, "Yeah, well, King George the Third, you know, he's a nice guy, and the fact that we can't vote and we've got to pay tax; no big deal, you know. We're doing all right." But to the little guy, it's a big problem. And so, there is--there's always both sides of the story. In this particular case, I think with the impact television had on that war [Vietnam War], which we hadn't had on any war in history before or seen those guys coming off the battlefield every day and put on helicopters, I think that influenced American people significantly. And then so many people served in Vietnam; 'cause you had the draft, and then they'd come in for eighteen months, your six months' training, go to Vietnam, come back in two years, they home. So, we had a lot of people serve in Vietnam because of the draft. And they would go for one tour and come back and go home. So, we generated a lot of veterans from Vietnam as a result of that.