A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The "Ragin" Cajun General

AP: 'Ragin' Cajun' General Spurs Katrina Aid---

NEW ORLEANS - To troops, he's the "Ragin' Cajun," an affable but demanding general barking orders to resuscitate a drowning city. To his country, he's an icon of leadership in a land hungry for a leader after a hurricane exposed the nation's vulnerability to disasters.

With a can-do attitude and a cigar in hand, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore arrived after Hurricane Katrina and directed troops to point weapons down in respect for a stunned and stranded population lacking food, electricity and safety.

Each morning, Honore (pronounced AHN'-ur-ay) boards a Blackhawk helicopter at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, 100 miles north of New Orleans, for a humanitarian mission as head of the military's Joint Task Force Katrina.
Even New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin likes him:
"He came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing, and people started moving," Nagin told a radio station. "I give the president some credit on this. He sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done."

The 6-foot-2 three-star general points out that John Wayne was an actor. "I'm a soldier. You get what you see," he said.

With his thin mustache and black beret, Honore has become one of the most visible figures of Katrina. On Sunday he appeared on both CBS' "Face the Nation" and on CNN's "Late Edition," where he defended giving food and water to people who are refusing to leave New Orleans.

"Right now, we want to make sure that we're taking care of the people that are alive, and that we are treating them with dignity and respect, and we're providing food and water for them," Honore told CNN.

He views Katrina as an enemy that pulled a "classic military maneuver," speeding toward land with overwhelming force, surprising and paralyzing the city and countryside and knocking out communications, electricity, water and roads in a "disaster of biblical proportions."
Sounds like the man for the job.

"He's intolerant of lackluster performance," said Retired Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm. "He has high standards and he's a sworn enemy of mediocrity."

Outside the Superdome one day with flood waters in rapid retreat, Honore grew impatient when his truck was blocked. "There's room to get by there. Let's go!"

"I don't intentionally try to be tough. As long as the job's getting done, I have nothing to say but praise," Honore says.
No one calls him "Ragin' Cajun" to his face.

"But the troops like it, so why not?" he adds.