09-12-2007, 06:56 AM
Advanced Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Southwest Missouri
The Chairmans Roots
KARMAH, Iraq -- - Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace,
meets with Marines of 2nd platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine
Regiment, 1st Marine Division, at outpost three, Sept. 4. Gen. Pace was
platoon commander for 2nd platoon in Vietnam during the Tet offensive and
never forgot about his time with Co. G, 2/5.
KARMAH, Iraq -- Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace,
speaks openly with a member of 2nd platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th
Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Sept. 4. Gen. Pace said he wanted to
be with original platoon in a combat zone before he retires Oct. 1.
KARMAH, Iraq - Marines of 2nd platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine
Regiment, 1st Marine Division, gather around the gym area to listen as
Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, recalls the stories
of his past. Gen. Pace was also a member of 2 2nd platoon as a platoon
commander during Vietnam. He never forgot the men who died following him
throughout the 13 months and said he has served everyday in their honor.
KARMAH, Iraq (Sept. 5, 2007) -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen.
Peter Pace, made a unique visit to Marines stationed here, Sept. 4. As far
as meetings with four-star generals usually go, this event was much less
formal. It seemed more like a gathering of relatives, a way for Gen. Pace to
connect the hardened war fighters of today to the heroes of his past. It was
evident he saw himself, and his old unit, in the Marines who stood in front
Nearly 40 years have passed since then 2nd Lt. Pace first stepped into a
combat zone as a platoon commander. The year was 1968 and the battle was
infamously known as the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. It was there he battled
against communism and the hand of fate, which made a profound impression on
Gen. Pace's commitment to country and Corps. The event marked a time in his
life never to be forgotten throughout his career as a Marine infantry
Decades later and less than a month before he retires from office, Gen. Pace
returned to the battlefield to join the same platoon of Marines he led into
combat as a final salute to the Corps and to those who have ever served in
2nd platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine
Gen. Pace stood stoically in front of men who have seen many recent battles, some just weeks prior. He shared much of his past with them as they stood silently, gathered around weight benches and dumbbells at their outpost, known as Observation Post 3, near downtown Karmah. Only the hum of a lone generator could be heard as Gen. Pace not only recalled the full rank and names of the men who perished under his command, but his fight to make sense of it all as well.
"Guys to the left of me got shot. Guys to the right of me got blown up and
nothing happened to me at all. I didn't understand that. I got out of
Vietnam without even a scratch on me," Gen. Pace said. "But, I made a
promise to myself back then that I would continue to serve in the Corps, in
their memory, and try to do my job out of respect for them."
Gen. Pace said he would only retire after he stopped getting promoted, and
in his words, "It worked out OK."
Most people would agree it worked out a little better than OK.
On Sept. 30, 2005, Gen. Pace was appointed to his present position, making
him the first Marine to ever serve as the president's top military advisor.
He also serves as the military advisor to the Secretary of Defense, the
National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security. Until
recently, no other Marine had ever made it to vice chairman, except Gen.
Despite the long list of successes on Gen. Pace's resume, he never forgot
where and with whom it all started.
"After just over 40 years of service, when I do get out, I will still owe
the Marines of 2nd platoon, Golf Company, more than I could ever repay," he
said. "I'm so proud to be here with you."
The platoon seemed in awe, almost speechless by his visit. Maybe they were
trying to digest the idea of a top-ranking, four-star general who humbly
made it his priority to meet each of them individually, hand out coins and
take personal photographs while thanking them for their sacrifices.
As Marines maneuvered around the outdoor gym for a group photo with the most
distinguished member of their platoon, Gen. Pace said, "I'd love to be able
to show my guys from Golf, 2nd platoon, your picture. I know they'll be
proud of you," referring to the Marines of his Vietnam platoon, who he still
It is this close knit bond between Marines, officers and enlisted, which
Gen. Pace said is the foundation to the health of the Corps.
After each Marine had their photograph taken with the general, got their
coin and asked their questions, he had one final gift to give, a K-Bar
knife. Both symbolic and traditional, the K-bar knife has been a staple of
Marine combat gear for generations. It was this he chose to bestow upon the
latest platoon leader of 2nd platoon.
"I wanted to give you this. From one 2nd platoon leader to another," he
said. "Out of respect for who you are, out of envy for your future time in
our Corps and out of envy for your opportunity to lead these Marines."
1st Lt. Chad Cassady, a former sergeant, was the proud owner of the new
knife and said he felt privileged to receive such a gift from a man he has
long respected. Cassady had met Gen. Pace nearly two years ago at the Marine
Corps Ball ceremony, not long after Gen. Pace was elected to chairman. He
did not think their paths would ever cross again. "I didn't think I'd ever
see him again," Cassady said. "I never could have imagined we shared a
Cassady does not plan to use the weapon in combat, but instead will proudly
display the grand memento in his house. Not everyone there got a K-bar, but
perhaps was able to take away a sense of belonging.
As the platoon's corpsman, Seaman Kyle Bourgeois, put it, "I just feel
Silent admiration filled the eyes of lance corporals and captains alike and
everyone present received something less tangible than a steel blade or a
metal coin. Gen. Pace was handing to each of them an item that never fades
or gets dull; a sense of pride and the relentless will to succeed.
The bonds formed and shared between Marines, units, and platoons are
"Forty years from now, you'll remember these officer's names and they'll
remember yours," Gen. Pace said. "A lot of stuff is going to happen between
now and then. You are going to have a lot of experiences, most of it is
going to be a blur, but you remember this, you'll remember each other and
I'll bet you, you'll find ways to get together."
"It'll be very difficult for me to walk away," he said. "I was shaking hands
the day before yesterday in Afghanistan and a soldier came through and said,
'Sir, thank you for your service. We'll take it from here.' As I look at
you, that's spot on. You have taken it."
The title "Marine" cannot be bought, rented or lent;
it can only be earned.
09-12-2007, 10:11 AM
*VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Marty Robbins old hometown, Glendale Arizona--a suburb of Phoenix.
Re: The Chairmans Roots
Hey Gunner, let me ask a favor of you....My friend, Frank Densmore, fought and was wounded on Iwo Jima---I have mentioned him a lot here on the site. Could you send this to him and his wife Fay at the following address:
I owe you, Gunner... Thanks... Chief
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