ADA CG, advocate, visionary dies
January 13, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla.-- As the year came to a close, the air defense artillery community learned of the death of legendary ADA leader, retired Lt. Gen. John 'Jack' Costello, Dec. 27.
Born in Pottsville, Pa., Costello was a 1969 graduate of The Citadel, with a bachelor's degree in political science and a commission as an ADA officer. Soon afterward the young lieutenant was deployed to Vietnam where he was assigned as a battalion adviser to the 4th ADA Battalion in Qui Nhon, Republic of Vietnam.
As a young company grade officer, then Capt. Costello was given the unique opportunity of commanding twice at the battery level. His first opportunity came with the 82nd Airborne Division, where he served as the battery commander of B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 4th ADA Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. Later in Germany, Costello was also assigned as commander of D Battery, 1st-59th ADA, 8th Infantry Division in Wackenheim, Germany.
Costello's other commands included battalion commander, 2nd-59th ADA, 1st Armored Division in Schwabach, Germany; brigade commander, 35th ADA Brigade, I Corps at Fort Lewis, Wash.; commanding general, 32nd Army Command in Darmstadt, Germany; assistant division commander - maneuver, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; commanding general, U.S. Army ADA School, Center and Fort Bliss, Texas; and, finally, as commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Arlington, Va.
Costello led the ADA branch into the 21st century by serving as the Air Defense Center's commanding general, as well as the commanding general for the U. S. Space and Missile Defense Command as the Army marched forward into the new millennium.
His signature closing was always "First to Fire, ADA is leading the charge into the 21st century." His belief was that the only way to accomplish this was by recruiting and retraining top quality Soldiers. Costello believed this was the paramount challenge the branch faced as it prepared to enter the new century.
Costello often quoted lessons from history as he gazed into the future.
He would reference Duster Track Commander Sgt. Joe Bolado, who led a relief column through the gates of Khe Sanh, Vietnam; while soliciting his own beliefs in a doctrine that places an emphasis on force protection, and a doctrine of always employing an overwhelming force.
Strategically, Costello firmly deemed that "Space [was] the ultimate high ground." He petitioned for a synchronized battle space, which would lead to overwhelming dominance. He understood that through technology and knowledge management of assets and sensor feeds, the distributed effects would be decisive, "allowing an adversary nowhere to run and virtually nowhere to hide."
After 32 years of active duty, Costello continued to serve the Soldiers he loved, as vice president of business development and strategic planning for Raytheon Network Centric Systems in McKinney, Texas. He proudly led the Raytheon Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force.
Understanding the problems facing our Soldiers overseas, and personally revamping the program into a focused effort, Costello's passion for Soldiers could be found in his words, "Raytheon doesn't need to make a dime; we need to solve the problem."
"Lieutenant General Costello was a remarkable Soldier and visionary leader, who captained air defense through tumultuous tempests of force draw downs and the digital age transformation. He principled and vigorously advocated air defense, crafting the weapon systems and establishing the path we are on today," said Brig. Gen. Roger Mathews, Air Defense Artillery School commandant.
The passing of this air defense warrior will be felt by many within and outside of the Fires community. Costello's honorable character, dedication mixed with devotion and tenacity will allow Soldiers of today and tomorrow to benefit from his legacy.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Micki, children, Patrick and Adrienne, and their extended family and friends. First to Fire!