General Leon J. LaPorte is a native of the Olneyville section of Providence, Rhode Island and a 1964 graduate of Mount Pleasant High School where he was a scholar and athlete. He was a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society and played basketball and baseball. Leon entered the University of Rhode Island in the fall of 1964, where he was active in the Phi Mu Delta Fraternity and enrolled in the four-year Army ROTC program. During his senior year, he was a Cadet Battalion Commander. He graduated from URI in 1968 as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Secondary Education, and he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Armor.
General LaPorte served in the US Army for 38 years rising to the rank of 4-star General. He is the highest-ranking Army ROTC graduate from the University of Rhode Island and the only native Rhode Islander in history to attain the rank of General ( Four Star).
General LaPorte served in worldwide operational assignments where he commanded at every level from Lieutenant to General. In 1971, he served as a Gunship Pilot and Platoon Commander for the 238th Aerial Weapons Company in the Republic of Vietnam and received several awards for valor. Shortly after arriving in Vietnam, Captain LaPorte’s unit was tasked to support “Operation Lam Son 719.” This strategic incursion into Laos was designed to reduce the flow of supplies moving south on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
After returning from Vietnam, Captain LaPorte was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, CO; and then he attended the Armor Officer Advanced Course at Fort Knox, KY. He earned his Masters of Science degree in Administration at the University of California, Irvine in 1977. Major LaPorte taught Leadership and Managerial Science classes as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Lieutenant Colonel LaPorte served two years as an Armor Battalion Commander in the Republic of Germany during the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union. From June 1989 to 1993, he served as the G3 Operations Officer, Chief of Staff and 3rd Brigade Commander in the First Cavalry Division. He deployed and fought with this famous division in Southwest Asia during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
From April 1994 to July 1995, he served as the Commander, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. Brigadier General LaPorte was known for tough realistic training at the Army’s premier desert training center. In 1995, Major General LaPorte returned to Fort Hood where he commanded the First Cavalry Division until July 1997. During this period, he deployed elements of the 1st Cavalry Division worldwide on operational missions in area such as Kuwait, Korea and Europe. He then was assigned as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Headquarters, Department of the Army, Washington, DC.
In August 1998, Lieutenant General LaPorte assumed command of the III Armored Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, where he served until August 2001. During this period, III Corps had the mission to train and deploy forces to Bosnia and Herzegovina for Peace Stability Operations. On 11 September 2001, Lieutenant General LaPorte assumed the position as Deputy Commanding General, US Army Forces Command. He led the effort to mobilize and deploy US based forces in response to the attack on our nation.
In May 2002, General LaPorte assumed command of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and the United States Forces Korea, located in Seoul, South Korea. He held this command for four years until his retirement from active duty in April 2006.
General LaPorte was a vital force in restoring the confidence of the ROK-US Alliance and revolutionizing its ability to deter or defeat an attack from North Korea. General Leon J. LaPorte was awarded the Korean Tong-Il Medal, the highest of the five medals under the Order of National Security, by South Korean President Roh, Moo-hyun for his four years of dedicated leadership and service to the Republic of Korea/United States Alliance.
Some of General LaPorte’s awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with “V” device, Army Commendation with “V” device and Oak Leaf Cluster, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm Parachute Badge, Aviator Badge and Ranger Tab. General LaPorte was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Rhode Island in May 2004.
Since his retirement from active duty, General LaPorte continues to be a staunch supporter of the Army ROTC program and the University of Rhode Island. The “General LaPorte Leadership Award” was established in 2006 to recognize an Army ROTC cadet with exceptional leadership potential. The distinctive accomplishments of General Leon J. LaPorte culminate a distinguished career in the service of his country and reflect great credit upon himself, his family and the University of Rhode Island
General LaPorte and his wife Judy reside in San Antonio, Texas.