‘Gyrenes’ Honor Chairman at University Gala in Florida
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
NAPLES, Fla., Feb. 25, 2007 More than 350 former and retired Marines turned out here last night to honor Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Ave Maria University Gyrene Gala.
U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during Ave Maria University's third annual Gyrene Gala in Naples, Fla., Feb. 24, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Gyrene Gala raises scholarship funds for young men and women who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces to attend Ave Maria University.
The term “gyrene” goes back to around 1900, according to Mariion F. Sturkey in her 2001 book, “Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines.” Sailors began using the term as a jocular derogatory reference to Marines. Instead of being insulted, the Marines loved it. The term became common by World War I and has been extensively used ever since.
Retired Marine Gen. Charles C. Krulak, 31st commandant of the Marine Corps, introduced the chairman, noting that he has watched Pace’s career grow and flourish over the years. Krulak said Pace cut his teeth as a lieutenant in Vietnam and followed that up with a difficult fight in Somalia as a brigadier general.
“From that tour as a one-star general, Pete began his remarkable rise to become the highest ranking officer in the United States armed forces,” Krulak said. “Pete personifies, in every aspect of his service, the type of Marine who fought on Iwo Jima so many years ago.”
The chairman is “a superb leader, a great thinker, a true warrior, a solid family man,” Krulak continued. “Pete epitomizes today, what I would call, the modern soldier statesman.”
Taking the podium, Pace thanked Krulak, who was his first commandant and his boss multiple times during his 40-year career.
“If I stand before you as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it’s because I truly stand on the shoulders of some giants of our corps,” Pace said. “It didn’t just happen that all of a sudden a United States Marine could be chairman."
Recapping history, Pace recalled Marine Gen. Luis H. Wilson Jr., who fought in the mid 1970s to become a full-fledged member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986 which allowed Marines to compete to be regional combatant commanders.
He noted the “incredible performance” of Marines like Gen. Paul X. Kelley, 28th commandant, Gen. Anthony Zinni, who led Central Command, Gen. John J. Sheehan, who commanded what was then the Atlantic Command, and Gen. Charles Wilhelm, who led Southern Command.
“It was their performance in leading joint troops that gave our civilian leaders confidence to pick a Marine to be chairman,” Pace said. “Throughout my career in the Corps, I have been surrounded by incredible leaders. All I had to do was keep my feet moving and emulate them to be successful.
“Tonight you honor me in a way that I know for sure, I do not deserve,” the chairman said. “But I will accept this on behalf of so many Marines who have taught me so many wonderful things, and today, as the representative of 2.4 million American men and women, active, guard and reserve, who serve this nation to the very best of their ability with great honor and distinction.”
During the event, university supporters inducted Pace to their Gallery of Gyrene Greats. He received a plaque in his likeness which will be mounted on the wall of a campus building.
The university created the Gallery of Gyrene Greats to publicly recognize individuals who have achieved success through their embodiment of the Marine Corps ethos. The gallery presents them as positive role models for our students, underscoring the Marine Corps’ and the university’s shared values of honor, courage and commitment.
Current Gyrene Greats include Krulak, Retired Gen. Carl E. Mundy, Jr., 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Jim Lehrer, Host of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Pace was one of five men inducted at the gala. Thomas S. Monaghan, a former Marine who went on to start Domino’s Pizza and who now serves as chancellor at Ave Maria University was inducted, as were three civilian honorees who are founders of the the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. They are Arthur L. Allen, president and CEO, Allen Systems Group; Mr. William J. Schoen, chairman, Health Management Associates and Carlton O. Tronvold, retired.