San Antonio’s 4 star general dies at 98

Retired Gen. Ralph E. Haines Jr. posed in 2010 with a portrait

Retired Gen. Ralph E. Haines Jr. posed in 2010 with a portrait

Gen. Ralph E. Haines Jr., the Army’s oldest four-star general, one-time vice chief of staff and founder of the service’s noncommissioned officer education system, died Wednesday in San Antonio. He was 98 years old.

A well-known figure in his native San Antonio whose career spanned generations, Haines began his service as a cavalryman and later fought in Italy.

Toughness was a career trademark, as was an attention to detail that was so fine he required his platoon leaders to learn the names of their horses — by the next morning.

“When you talked to him you realized that this was a man of importance, not self-importance from his perspective, but a man who had credibility,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, who was with Haines when he died. “He was very credible, humble, but also you knew that there was a discipline to him and he expected discipline.”

The commander of a division that was poised to strike communist forces in Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis, Haines suffered the past several years from congestive heart failure. He died at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Dec. 3 in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, followed by burial at Fort Sam National Cemetery.

“He was very much plugged in and engaged up until the end,” said his son, retired Army Lt. Col. Bill Haines, 68.

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