Seal of the Department of Defense U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public contact:
or +1 (703) 571-3343

Farewell Ceremony for General Richard Myers and Swearing-in Ceremony for General Peter Pace
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Whipple Field, Fort Myers, VA, Friday, September 30, 2005

Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, thanks for being here.  Members of the Congress, Members of the Cabinet, Ambassadors, Service Secretaries and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Enlisted advisors, senior civilian and military officials of the Department, men and women of the Armed Forces, and a very special greeting to the Myers and Pace families.  Welcome!

Our Commander in Chief -- President George W. Bush -- selected well in his decision to nominate General Pete Pace to lead our warfighters at this time of peril and promise for our country.

And General Pace would be the first to say that the General Officer he succeeds as Chairman, and who we honor today, his friend and colleague, cannot be easily replaced.

In thinking about General Myer’s extraordinary career, it occurred to me that there will be a time, some years from now, when troops and families, will walk through the corridors of the Pentagon.

Children will likely gaze up at portraits of Marshall, Eisenhower, and Arnold.  And they will see a portrait of Richard B. Myers, with a word or two about the War on Terror he helped lead, and the two brutal regimes he helped U.S. forces eliminate, and the 50 million people they liberated.

What else might we tell them?

We might tell them about the General whose responsibilities encompassed countries, oceans, and even outer space, but who never forgot that he came from a small town in Kansas.

And we could tell them about a Chairman who fiercely defended the outstanding men and women in uniform -- day in and day out.  And who has grieved with the families and loved ones of those who have been casualties in this conflict.  That says a lot about Dick Myers.

A moment comes to mind.  When a sandstorm slowed our troops’ progress during the early days of the war -- critics were harshly second-guessing the war plan.  The Coalition’s ability to remove Saddam Hussein’s regime was widely doubted during that period.

At one of our tumultuous press conferences, General Myers -- who could have opted to say nothing -- leaned into the microphone and the maelstrom of criticism and said of the second-guessers:

“They either weren't there, or they don't know, or they're working another agenda.  …  I will stick by my statement that this is a great plan … one I've signed up to  … one all the Joint Chiefs signed up to, and it's one we're going to see through to completion.”

That day folks learned two things.  They underestimated our troops.  And they underestimated General Dick Myers.

And I want to say a word about Mary Jo Myers.  Mary Jo, we appreciate your heartfelt support for the troops.  We are so grateful to you for your service to our nation.  Thank you so much.

Dick, today you are being honored by colleagues and friends, and by our Commander in Chief.  Tomorrow, you will be remembered by history.

Years from now, children visiting the Pentagon will not only look upon a portrait of Dick Myers.  They might also find themselves in a small chapel -- established on the site where so many perished in the flames fanned by the fury of the violent extremists determined to terrorize free people throughout the world.

They will be told of a time when evil was confronted and was defeated.  And that the man in uniform who helped to lead the way was America’s 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Richard Myers of Kansas -- a man whose courage I have seen, whose counsel I have needed, and whose friendship I value.

Dick Myers, you and I have been privileged to serve a Commander in Chief -- a leader -- who has never faltered in that fight -- even for a moment -- so that our children and theirs will be able to live to see a world where terror surrendered to a new morning of freedom and peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a privilege and honor to introduce that stalwart leader, our Commander in Chief, President George W. Bush.