Outgoing chair man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace made a quiet stop on Oct. 1, the day he retired after 43 years of service, to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Against the solemn black memorial bearing the names of those killed in Vietnam, Gen. Pace left three index cards. On each was a set of the four stars he wore on his shoulder as general for the past seven years, along with a note to fallen comrades, a touching tribute discovered by several veterans who saw the cards.
The cards were addressed to three members of Gen. Pace’s Marine Rifle platoon who fought and died in Vietnam around 1968. “These are yours — Not mine!” Gen. Pace wrote, adding, “With Love and Respect, Your Platoon Leader Pete Pace.”
A spokesman for Gen. Pace said the stop by the memorial was a personal visit.
One of the cards was for Lance Cpl. Farinaro, whom Gen. Pace has spoken of in the past. The fellow Mar ine was killed by a sniper as he stood next to Lt. Pace. One other Marine also was killed as he stood in front of him, thus shielding him from the shooter.
“Some died, others did not. I still truly do not understand,” Gen. Pace said in September. “But because of Guido and the others I lost, I determined that I would continue to serve in the Marine Corps until I was no longer needed, and to tr y to serve in a way that paid respect to their lives.”
Bill Gertz covers the Pentagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at email@example.com.