Remarks as Delivered by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John M. Shalikashvili Farewell to John P. White, Deputy Secretary of Defense Fort Myer, Washington, D.C. June 30, 1997
Secretary Cohen, Representative Skelton, Mr. Berger, Dr. Perry, Secretary and Mrs. White, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Few things give me more pleasure than to stand before you along with this marvelous band and this sharp, crisp honor guard representing all of our men and women in uniform. And what a wonderful day it is for a ceremony bidding farewell to an extraordinary member of our team.
It has been said that success comes in different forms and at different times for different people, But that it is sweetest when it comes with the approval, the applause, and the rewards freely given by those you have worked so hard to serve. And that is why we are here today, to bid farewell to one who has so rightly earned our gratitude.
John White came to us two years ago as a man with deep convictions, a clear vision of the future, and an exceptional record of service in both the public and the private sectors. Important as well, he came to us as a former Marine who never forgot what it was like to be "in the trenches." So it is not surprising that John White brought to his work the same kind of intensity and single-minded dedication that we have grown to expect from our marines.
During his tenure, I and my fellow Joint Chiefs depended enormously on his intellect, wise counsel, and remarkable drive. He helped us define our roles and missions, reinvent our security strategy, worked crises and issues in nearly every region of the world, and led the charge to innovate and reform our business practices. From planning for the Olympics to helping us organize for the information revolution, to his most recent efforts pulling together all the divergent interests for the Quadrennial Defense Review, he tackled each mission with a level of determination and professionalism that gained the respect of civilian and uniformed leaders alike.
But the greatest contributing factor to his effectiveness was that he understood the needs of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines and dedicated his efforts to ensuring they always had the support "from the top" that they so rightly deserved.
It was President Coolidge who once said, "No nation ever had an army powerful enough to guarantee it against attack in time of peace or insure it of victory in time of war." If Coolidge had John White working for him he might never had uttered those words. Because John has dedicated every waking hour to providing our forces with the capabilities that will indeed insure we fear no attack in peace and guarantee us victory in war. Whether the issue was training, equipping, force protection, or quality-of-life John White's first question was always "Is it good for our men and women in uniform?"
An old proverb on leadership says that "The right man comes at the right time" John, you were the right man at the right time. Your extraordinary range of abilities allowed you to accomplish so much for our forces and our national defense and for this we are forever in your debt. So what could be a more fitting way to say farewell to you than right here in front of these splendid looking troops whom you served so well.
You have been by any measure an extraordinary public servant, exceptional leader, and a dear friend to us all. But if you believe your job is over, you are sadly mistaken.
Because, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Once a man builds a house... he now has a task for life. For he must furnish it, show it, and keep it in repair for the rest of his days." So whatever your plans for the future, never forget that you too now have a stake in this wonderful institution you have helped us build and we look forward to your continued support.
Standing next to John White has been, is today, and always will be Betty White, an important member of the team in her own right. Since 1959, the same year John became a Marine, Betty has been not only a loving wife to John but has been a dear friend to those of us in uniform. Betty, I want to thank you for loaning us this remarkable man on and off for the past 38 years and for bringing a special charm to his office and your caring touch to our Armed Forces.
We will miss you both for you are a wonderful team and dear friends to us all. On behalf of our armed forces, thank you for your remarkable dedication, service and all that you have done to help make ours the finest military in the world bar none.
Thank you both from the bottom of our hearts and may God bless you both.