Born in Tennessee in 1936, Carl Wade Stiner graduated from Tennessee Tech and joined the Army in 1958, spending his platoon leader days with the 9th Infantry “Manchu” Regiment. Earning a beret with the 3rd Special Forces Group in 1964, he went to Vietnam in the S-3 shop of a battalion in the 4th Infantry Division in 1967 after CGSS school, picking up a Purple Heart for his trouble. By 1970, he was jumping out of planes again as battalion commander of 2/325th Infantry, with the “All Americans” of the 82nd Airborne.
Passing through Carlise Barracks and picking up his first star, he later became the 82nd’s assistant division commander, commanded JSOC as a major general from 1984-87– a time that included the Achille Lauro affair– then went back to the 82nd as divisional commander.
Running XVIII Airborne Corps and JTFS, he was the brain behind taking down the Panama Defense Force in Blue Spoon/Just Cause in 1989.
Following up on that, he pinned on a fourth star and became the second commander on USSOCOM in 1990, a job he held for three years, a time that included running all special ops during Desert Shield/Storm.
Besides his Ranger and Airborne tab along with CIB, he wore a Master Parachutist Badge and Vietnam Service Medal with four campaign stars, showing he knew how to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk.
You may best know Gen. Stiner from his Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces (Commander Series) book with Tom Clancy, a great 400-page treatise on SOCOM’s first decade.
Gen. Carl Stiner, inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2004 and the 82nd Airborne’s hall of fame in 2019, died in Knoxville last Thursday, at the age of 85.
He is surely off leading the way into a brave new drop zone.