Lieutenant General Orren Ray "Cotton" Whiddon
Lieutenant General Orren Ray "Cotton" Whiddon passed peacefully into the arms of the Lord, March 20, 2016 surrounded by family and friends after fighting the good fight. He was born March 10th, 1935 to the late Cynthia Betty Cockrell Whiddon and Orren Cox Whiddon in Joaquin, TX as a fifth generation Texan.
General Whiddon graduated from Stephen F. Austin University with a BA in Chemistry in 1955 and was drafted into the US Army as a Buck Private. Upon completion of Officer Candidate School in 1956, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Field Artillery. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Management from the University of Southern California. His military education includes completion of the Field Artillery School Basic and Advanced Courses, The United States Army Command and General Staff College and the Naval War College, Newport, RI.
General Whiddon served in a variety of career building assignments including Ft. Sill, OK; Vicenza, Italy; and Ft. Leavenworth, KS. His first tour in Vietnam was as a Subsector Advisor in the Mekong Delta and later as the Intelligence Briefing Officer to General Westmoreland. Upon returning to the US, he was the Operations and Plans Officer, Joint Reconnaissance Center, Operations Directorate, J3, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC. In his second tour in Vietnam he served as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, G2, 101st Airborne Division and later commanded 3d Battalion, 82d Artillery, 196th Infantry Brigade. Upon return to the United States, General Whiddon served as a staff officer in the Current Operations Division, Operations Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, United States Army, Washington, DC.
Following his studies at the Naval War College, General Whiddon commanded the 2nd Battalion, 92nd Field Artillery, 42nd Field Artillery Group in Giessen, Germany. He then served as a Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. General Whiddon commanded the Division Artillery, 5th Infantry Division, Fort Polk, LA, after which he served as the Deputy Director of Training in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations and Plans, United States Army, Washington, DC.
Other key assignments held include Assistant Division Commander, 3rd Armored Division in Europe; Commanding General, United States Army Training Support Center, Fort Eustis, VA.; Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Intelligence, Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), The Netherlands; Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division, United States Army Europe, Bad Krueznach, Germany; and Deputy Commander in Chief for Joint Plans and Operations Forces Command, Fort McPherson, GA. General Whiddon retired in 1990 as Commanding General, Second United States Army, Fort Gillem, GA.
Awards and decorations General Whiddon received include the Distinguished Service Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Defense Superior Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit (three Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (four Oak Leaf Clusters), Air Medal (five Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Good Conduct Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), National Defense Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Vietnam Service Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Service Ribbon (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Overseas Service Ribbon (five Oak Leaf Clusters), Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Unit Citation, Vietnamese Staff Honor Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Palm), Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Gold Star) and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Silver Star). General Whiddon is authorized to wear the Combat Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, and Army General Staff Identification Badge.
General Whiddon was inducted into Stephen F. Austin University's Alumni Hall of Fame in 1988, awarded the Angelina Rotary Club's Paul Harris Fellow Award and "Service Above Self" Award in 2005 and the Angelina Award by the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce in 2014. He was a longtime supporter of SFA's ROTC program and the Howitzer fired at SFA home games, Ol' Cotton, is named in his honor.
After retiring in 1990, Cotton and the love of his life, Harriot McKinney Whiddon, began the second adventure of their lives in Lufkin, Texas. His leadership and ability to inspire others led to his work with and development of the PineCrest Retirement Community and Salvation Army Adult Day Care Center. His work in the community also included serving on the City's Planning and Zoning Board, the St. Cyprian's Episcopal School Board, the Methodist Retirement Communities Board and the Methodist Retirement Trust Board. He was a Senior Warden for St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church. Cotton loved Lufkin, and Lufkin loved him.
He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Cynthia Betty Cockrell Whiddon and Orren Cox Whiddon, and brother Richard Abner Whiddon. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Harriot McKinney Whiddon; son, Orren Prentice Whiddon of Artemas, PA; daughters, Laura Whiddon Shortell and husband Joe Ross Stutts of Dallas, TX; Barbara Whiddon Chandler and husband James B Chandler of Allen, TX; four grandchildren, Orren Anders Whiddon, Pittsburgh, PA; Joseph Henry Shortell III, Dallas, TX; Catharine Theodosia Whiddon, Artemas, PA; Skylar James Chandler, Allen, TX; sister, Susan Karen Whiddon, Joaquin, TX; sister-in-laws, Susan Prentice McKinney of Nacogdoches, TX and Jean Tyler Whiddon of Hideaway, TX; and numerous nieces and nephews.
We'd like to thank "Cotton's Angels", Norma, Evia, Bonnie, Brenda, Crystal and Ruth; LTC Francis Jackson; the staff and caregivers at Hospice in the Pines; Memorial Home Health; and all the doctors who cared for him, especially Dr. Kyle Krohn.
Funeral services where 10am, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church, Lufkin and burial with full military honors at 3pm at The Joaquin Cemetery, Joaquin, Texas. Visitation was held on Friday evening, March 25, 2016 in the Gipson Funeral Home, Lufkin, Texas.