‘Trailblazer’: First Marine general to lead Defense Intelligence Agency dies at 64
Stars and Stripes May 2, 2023
The first Black director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the first Marine Corps officer to lead it, died Friday in Aldie, Va., the Marine Corps said in a news release Monday.
Retired Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, 64, died “peacefully in his sleep,” according to a brief obituary posted by the Colonial Funeral Home of Leesburg.
“I join many others in mourning the sudden loss of Vince Stewart,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said in the release. “He was a trailblazer, a selfless leader, and a mentor and dear personal friend to me. His impact as a leader of Marines and the broader intelligence community cannot be understated. Words cannot express how much he will be missed.”
In a posting on the funeral home’s website, Lt. Gen. Dimitri Henry, director of intelligence of the Joint Staff, wrote about how profoundly Stewart shaped his trajectory in the Corps.
“Vince Stewart is the example that we now try to emulate,” Henry wrote. “He saw my potential and he never let me forget that I had that potential, that if I did what is required, I could accomplish anything I chose to accomplish.”
Stewart retired in 2019 after 38 years in the Marine Corps. His last post was as deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
Stewart was born May 11, 1958, in Kingston, Jamaica, and immigrated to America in 1971 at age 13.
Football became his passion, and he earned an athletic scholarship to Western Illinois University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history, according to his obituary.
He received a master’s degree in national resource strategy from the National Defense University and a second master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.
He was commissioned in 1981 and served at all levels of command, his first a tank platoon in Alpha Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division in 1982, according to the Marine Corps news release said.
One former Marine intelligence officer remembered Stewart as “a true giant in the Intelligence Community,” in a post on the funeral home website.
“He is revered by everyone, from the most senior Intelligence Community leadership to the analysts on the deck plates,” wrote retired Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, who last commanded the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and previously served as deputy chief of computer network operations of the National Security Agency.
“His influence on National and Defense decision-making was extraordinary,” Groen wrote. “His influence on our National Security for decades has been truly historic.”
Stewart is survived by his wife, Phyllis; five children, Vincent, Robert, Nicole, Jennifer and Patrick; 15 grandchildren; and four brothers and sisters.