Pace Travels: A Little ‘Moosenip,’ A Lot of Thanks
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2007 You’ve heard of catnip, right? Well, somebody must have sprinkled “moosenip” around the VIP quarters where Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace and his wife Lynne stayed at Alaska’s Elmendorf Air Force Base last week.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife Lynne, pose for a photo in front of two moose near the quarters in which they sayed on Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, Feb. 24, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Three full-grown, female moose spent several hours, morning and evening, right outside the quarters, nibbling at low-hanging branches and nestling in the snow catching some rays. The 800- to 900-pound, lanky-legged animals ignored the ever-present security specialists and the comings and goings of SUVs and military vans.
As for the chairman and his wife, the moose maneuvers were a first. But for the couple who spend much of their time traveling the nation and the world, it was just part of their latest adventure. On their last trip, they saw koalas in Australia.
On this trip, Pace and his traveling party crossed the nation more-or-less diagonally, Feb. 21 to 25, visiting Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and Florida. Along with the moose moments, they experienced biting cold, 20-below temperatures at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and balmy, 75-degree breezes in Naples, Fla.
Along the way, the couple talked with civilian and military leaders, school children and college students, military veterans and on-duty servicemembers. Although the climate, the venues, and the audiences varied greatly, the chairman carried one central message to all “Thank you.”
The chairman expressed the military’s gratitude to civilian communities for their support of the troops. And, somewhat surprisingly to members of the audiences, the chairman also thanked the nation’s press.
“What an incredible outpouring of support and love,” Pace told the 1,000 guests at the 30th annual Armed Services YMCA Salute to the Military in Anchorage. He thanked the corporate sponsors of the event as well as local city officials for their support to the troops.
“This community, this state, your contributions to the security of our nation, this gathering tonight where you are showing those of us in uniform how much you appreciate us – it makes a difference. For all of us in uniform, to all of you who are here tonight, paying tribute to us, thank you for your support.”
The chairman then said there was another part of this community that needed to be recognized -- employers of the members of the Guard and reserve.
“We quite simply can’t do our nation’s business without the members of our Guard and reserve,” he said. “They are incredibly valued members of the team. Because we value them so highly, there is no doubt in my mind that they have left behind holes in your organizations and your companies that are not easy to fill.
“So to all of you employers of the Guard and reserve here tonight, thank you for your sacrifice in letting these incredible young men and women come serve their country,” Pace said. “Your service is to the country is very much appreciated.”
Turning to another group, the chairman said members of the press are kind of like lawyers. “It’s kind of fun to take a shot at them,” he said with a smile. “But when you need a lawyer, you need a lawyer.”
“There is no freedom without the free press,” Pace said, drawing the crowd’s applause in Anchorage. “Those members of the press who work hard to find the truth, and once they’re sure they have the truth, they publish it -- God bless you for what you do to protect our Constitution the way that you do.”
The chairman also expressed the nation’s gratitude to the veterans who answered past calls to serve.
“To all who have served before, thank you, not only for your service, but for the legacy you have given us,” Pace said to veterans in Alaska. “You have shown us how to properly serve this nation.
“What overrides the fear of physical harm,” he said, “is the fear that those of us who now have the honor of serving this nation, would let down those who went before us. Or, that we would somehow let down the soldier, Marine, airman, sailor or coast guardsman on our left or our right.
“It is the fear of not performing to the standard set by our veterans that spurs us on to serve this nation the way we do,” he said. “So you veterans in this room tonight, thank you, for not only defending this nation during your time in uniform, but in showing us how to do it properly for the decades to come.”
During a troop talk with about 750 active duty, National Guard and Reserve troops at Elmendorf AFB, Pace said their efforts are essential to the nation’s security.
“The way you’ve been doing your job up here and deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, has just been fabulous,” he said. “I want to say thanks for all you do, all you have done, and unfortunately, for some of the things I’m going to have to ask you to do in the future.”
Pace asked the troops to reach out and thank their families for their support.
“Those of us who go in harm’s way, know when we’re in trouble,” he said. “And when we are in trouble, we’re normally surrounded by soldiers, Marines, or airmen with rifles, and that’s not a bad place to be. But our families don’t know that. The whole time we’re deployed, they think we’re in trouble all the time. They worry about us all the time and they pray for us all the time.
‘Then when we come home,” Pace continued, “we get awards and they pretend they had nothing to do with it. Whereas, in fact, we all know that keeping the families tied together the way they do is an incredible job, responsibility, sacrifice and service to the nation.
“I believe in my heart that our spouses and their families serve this nation as well as anyone who has ever worn the uniform,” he said.
“If you haven’t done so recently,” he advised the troops, “thank the person who loves you for their support.”