Vincent Stewart Cause of Death: A Tribute to a Trailblazing Marine General

Vincent Stewart was a remarkable man who made history as the first Black director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the first Marine Corps officer to lead it. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 28, 2023, at his home in Aldie, Virginia, according to his wife, Phyllis Stewart. He was 64 years old.

A Jamaican Immigrant Who Lived the American Dream

Stewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on May 11, 1958. He attended Kingston College before immigrating to the United States in 1971 at age 13. He received his undergraduate degree in history in 1981 from Western Illinois University and was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps that same year.

He earned master’s degrees in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in 1995 and in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University in 2002.

Stewart served almost 40 years in the Marine Corps, rising through the ranks and serving in various leadership positions. His first assignment was as a tank platoon commander in Alpha Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division in 1982.

He later commanded the Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. He also served as the deputy chief of computer network operations for the National Security Agency.

A Top Military Intelligence Officer Who Served Under Two Presidents

Stewart became the director of the DIA on January 23, 2015, shortly after being promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. He was the first African American, first Jamaican American and first Marine to hold the position.

As the head of the DIA, he was one of the nation’s top military intelligence officers, providing key advice to U.S. leadership on global and national security issues. He oversaw the agency’s operations in more than 140 countries, managing a workforce of more than 16,500 military and civilian personnel.

He dealt with complex and challenging issues, such as Russia’s involvement in Syria, North Korea’s nuclear program, China’s military expansion, Iran’s nuclear deal, and the rise of the Islamic State, among many others.

He was known for his candor, professionalism, and integrity, as well as his sense of humor and charisma. He testified before Congress several times, often delivering blunt and honest assessments of the threats facing the nation.

He also received numerous awards and honors for his service, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.

He retired from the DIA on October 3, 2017, and became the deputy commander of the United States Cyber Command, where he continued to play a vital role in the nation’s cyber defense and offense. He retired from the Marine Corps on April 5, 2019, at the Marine Barracks Washington.

A Trailblazer Who Inspired Many

Stewart was a trailblazer who broke barriers and inspired many people, especially those from minority and immigrant backgrounds. He was a living embodiment of the American dream, a testament to the ideals of hard work, courage, and excellence.

He was also a passionate advocate for racial justice and equality, speaking out against the systemic racism and discrimination that many Black Americans face. He wrote a powerful op-ed for Task & Purpose in 2020, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, calling for action and change.

He said, “By all accounts, I have truly lived the American dream. I am a first generation American who rose to the top of my profession — a living embodiment of the ideal that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. Yet hard work is not enough for many of my fellow Black Americans, who run into institutional barriers, and all too often face deep-seated fear, contempt, resentment, and hatred.”

He urged his fellow Americans to stand up for justice and humanity, saying, “We must do better. We must be better. We must be the change we want to see in the world. And do it for someone who doesn’t look like you.”

Stewart is survived by his wife, five children, 15 grandchildren, as well as several sisters and brothers, according to his obituary. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

He will be remembered as a hero, a leader, and a mentor by many who knew him and worked with him. He left a lasting legacy of service, excellence, and integrity that will inspire generations to come.

Doms Desk

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