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Perry in Review

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 1997 – Saying goodbye to the nation's military men and women is one of the hardest things Bill Perry said he's had to do since becoming the 19th U.S. defense secretary.

Perry is leaving office soon to return to California's Stanford University. The president nominated retired Sen. William S. Cohen of Maine to replace Perry.

Since taking the Pentagon's helm in 1994, Perry traveled to 67 different countries and logged about 700,000 miles in military aircraft ranging from C-20 passenger jets to C-17 Globemaster cargo planes. He went around the world in eight days in December 1996, spending 55 hours in the air traveling from Washington to Europe, the Middle East, then Japan and home again.

Perry befriended kings, ministers and foreign defense chiefs around the world. He met with Russia's new defense minister, Igor Rodionov, to further strengthen military cooperation that began when Russia agreed to join NATO's peace operation in Bosnia. He nurtured NATO's Partnership for Peace so Central and East European nations will join the West in a new era of peace and stability.

He also viewed the tragedy of disease-ridden refugees escaping war in Rwanda, sending in U.S. forces to provide fresh water. He parleyed with Saudi Arabian King Fahd to safeguard U.S. forces in the kingdom after terrorists killed 14 Americans in two attacks. He traveled to the Middle East several times to view the aftermath of the Khobar Towers bombing and to ensure force protection measures were improved throughout the region. He made repeated trips to Bosnia during the NATO peace implementation force's year-long mission.

Perry also met with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, throughout the United States and overseas. While the secretary visited motor pools, training areas and chow halls, his wife, Lee, met with family members and visited schools, hospitals and community facilities. Perry spent his last three Thanksgivings in Haiti, Macedonia and Bosnia. Every three months throughout his tenure, he accompanied the services' senior enlisted to military bases to check on service members' quality of life.

Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said if Gen. Omar Bradley was the GI's general, "surely Bill Perry has been the GI's secretary of defense."

During a farewell ceremony at Fort Myer, Va., Jan. 14, Perry said his goodbyes to the president, Congress, the media and the armed forces:

"I say farewell to our military leaders who have served our country so brilliantly. They have prepared our forces for war, but they are dedicated to peace ... and for the last four years, peace is the gift we have given the American public. But the hardest farewell to say is to the troops who have served me and whom I have served. Words cannot adequately describe my pride in you. My farewell to you is a simple benediction: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and give you peace."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary William J. Perry and newly appointed Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov speak to the press following a meeting in Moscow Oct. 16, 1996. Perry had his first contact with Rodionov during the September NATO meeting in Bergen, Norway. R.D. Ward  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary William J. Perry (center) asks soldiers about the night vision apparatus they are wearing at the Force XXI Central Technical Support Facility, Fort Hood, Texas, during an October 1996 trip. Helene C. Stikkel  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image1st Lt. Donnie Lee (left), 1-4 Aviation, Fort Hood, Texas, briefs Defense Secretary William J. Perry on various aspects of the Apache AH-64D Longbow helicopter. Perry toured the Force XXI Central Technical Support Facility at Fort Hood with the senior enlisted from each service in October 1996. Helene C. Stikkel  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Gen. John Shalikashvili (left), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary William Perry take questions from the news media following a Nov. 15, 1996, briefing during which they announced the creation of a follow-on to the implementation force maintaining peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina. R.D. Ward  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary William Perry visits the ruins of building 131 of the Khobar Towers military housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. A terrorist bomb killed 19 American service members, June 25, 1996. Perry flew to Saudi Arabia to consult with U.S. and Saudi officials on the progress of the investigation and to review strategies to safeguard U.S. forces. R.D. Ward  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary William Perry (left) meets with Saudi Arabian King Fahd (right) in Jeddah in June to explore strategies to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. personnel to acts of terrorism. R.D. Ward  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRussian Major General Alexander Lentsov, brigade commander, shows U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry some of his unit's light armored vehicles at the Russian brigade's IFOR headquarters in Bosnia. R.D. Ward  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Col. David H. Huntoon (center), commander, 3rd U.S. Infantry Old Guard, escorts Defense Secretary William Perry (left) and Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Leonid Maltsev (right) of the Republic of Belarus, as they review the troops at the Pentagon in July 1996. Helene C. Stikkel  
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