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College of Business and Technology

Gary Harrell
Gary Harrell


Major General (Ret.) Gary Harrell

Major General Harrell received his East Tennessee State University bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and his Army commission in 1973. By early 1977, he had earned a Green Beret and was assigned to a Special Forces Group in Panama. Selected as commander of the first Commander In Chief In-Extremis assault team, he led a Special Forces A-Team and a SCUBA team. Next, he was chosen to command an Airborne Rifle Company, deploying to the Sinai as part of the first multinational force there in 1981.

He was deployed to Grenada during “Operation Urgent Fury,” and then took part in combat operations in Panama with “Operation Just Cause.” He was sent to the Middle East during “Desert Shield” and “Desert Storm,” and as commander of the special operation Delta Force, he was wounded by mortar fire during United Nations relief efforts in Somalia, a story chronicled in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Later, he assumed responsibility for the protection of U.S. forces in 25 nations surrounding the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. After the attack on the USS Cole, he deployed to Yemen, selected for the job by Gen. Tommy Franks, Commander of the U.S. Central Command. In 2001, he was Assistant Division Commander for the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan; “Operation Iraqi Freedom” found him commanding the largest special operations force assembled since World War II.

He has served on the ETSU Foundation board and received a 2001 Distinguished Alumni in the Armed Services Award, as well as induction into the College of Business and Technology Hall of Fame.

Now vice-president of special operations programs for CUBIC Defense Applications, he resides in Johnson City with his wife, Jennifer. They are the parents of three children, two of whom attended ETSU, and grandparents of six.

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