DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
Monday, August 21, 1995, Secretary of Defense William J. Perry's Eulogy Remarks for Diplomats at Andrews Air Force Base
(Also participating were Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Anthony Lake, National Security Adviser.)
Secretary Christopher: Members of the Frasure, Kruzel and Drew families, distinguished guests, and friends.
It is with great sorrow that we gather today to bring home Bob Frasure, Joe Kruzel, and Nelson Drew. These three dedicated Americans lived their lives in the service of their country and in the pursuit of peace. They gave their lives in a noble effort to save the lives of others. We share in the grief of their families and friends, just as we shared in their common purpose.
These men remind us that the pursuit of American interests and principles in this world is not an abstraction. It cannot be accomplished by high technology or whirring computers. It depends upon superb individuals like Bob Frasure and Joe Kruzel and Nelson Drew. Whether it was working long hours in Washington or shuttling back and forth from one capital to another or entering a zone of high danger, they did what had to be done.
I want to say a special word about Bob Frasure who was an irreplaceable colleague and a valued friend. For two decades, Bob lived his life in the best tradition of the Foreign Service. That time-honored phrase, "the best tradition of the Foreign Service" is ripe with content at a moment like this.
For Bob, it meant a life of selfless service to others, from South Africa to Ethiopia to Estonia and finally, to Bosnia. It meant accepting without cavil or complaint the most difficult and dangerous assignments which come, it seems, to the best people as a paradoxical reward for their excellence. Our Foreign Service produces people like Bob more often than most Americans would realize.
Bob was a devoted husband and father as he contributed to his important foreign policy responsibilities. I pay tribute to him and to our service as he returns home from this tragic mission. My prayers go out to his wife Katrina, and to his daughters, Sarah and Virginia.
I benefitted from every moment I spent with Bob, from his experience, from his judgment, and from his sense of humor. In the hours since 4:00 a.m. last Saturday morning, my thoughts have been filled with the brilliance and colorful epigrams that made Bob's presentations so effective. I vividly remember calling on him recently without a moment's warning in a meeting of 16 foreign ministers, who very soon were under his brilliant sway.
The peace plan that our delegation was pursuing this last week drew heavily on Bob's insight and on his wisdom. He helped shape its elements, and he gave all his energy to fulfilling its promise.
The loss of Bob and Joe and Nelson is a terrible blow, but the effort to bring peace to Bosnia will continue, and with a renewed sense of commitment. We will honor their sacrifice by striving to complete their work.
One day the shells will stop falling in Bosnia, the minefields will be cleared, and the terrible cycle of needless violence and death in Bosnia will finally come to an end. When it does, it will be due to devoted peacemakers like Bob and Joe and Nelson, and to their colleagues who survived -- especially Dick Holbrooke and General Wes Clark. It will be due to their spirit of service.
A half century ago, Dean Acheson captured that spirit of service. He described the people who serve our country abroad as "giving their whole life to the United States: competent, courageous, devoted". Some, he said, were serving in areas of hot war where bombs were dropping and bullets were flying. Others were serving where dangers to the health were as great as bullets. They knew their duty and they did it.
That spirit is exemplified by these three Americans. It lives on in the Foreign Service and in all the branches of our government.
We rededicate ourselves to it today, at this melancholy moment. We pledge ourselves to carry on in the footsteps of these three distinguished Americans -- following their example toward the goal that they did so much to bring within our reach.
Secretary Perry: Robert Frasure, Joseph Kruzel, Colonel Nelson Drew were great Americans, great diplomats, and great human beings. They gave their lives pursuing peace in a land that suffered far too long from death, destruction, and displacement.
As we grieve their loss, let God in his mercy ease our pain, and leave us only their cherished memories, our pride in their achievements and the knowledge that their sacrifice for peace was not in vain.
With the death of Joe Kruzel, I lost a trusted adviser, a gifted policy maker, and a cherished friend. He was the chief architect of one of my most important goals as Secretary of Defense -- to reach out to the nations in the former Warsaw Pact in their quest for democracy and regional stability. Thanks in great part to Joe's leadership, the agents of this change -- NATO's Partnership for Peace -- has been a resounding success.
Just three weeks ago more than a dozen nations from the former Warsaw Pact held a joint peacekeeping exercise in Louisiana with U.S., Canadian, and British forces. We saw armies that have spent decades building a balance of terror now building a balance of trust.
Joe Kruzel, more than any single person, was responsible for this historic event, and he would have been proud to see it. Instead, he was with our diplomatic team in Europe, trying to bring peace to Bosnia.
Joe created the Partnership for Peace, but in a broader sense, you could say Joe was a partner for peace. Indeed, his insightful and sensitive work has been critical in bringing us closer to a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Bosnia, closer than at any time in the past four years.
The quest for peace that he helped pursue in Bosnia has, in the past, seemed like the struggle of Sisyphus, a figure from Greek mythology, who was condemned to spend all of eternity pushing a heavy rock up one side of the mountain, only to have it come back down just as he reached the top.
We have been pushing the rock of peace up the side of the Bosnian mountain for a long time now, and it has kept rolling back down. But like Sisyphus, we will not stop trying.
For the thousands who have perished, for the thousands who are threatened, for the peace and stability of Europe, and for Robert Frasure, Joseph Kruzel, and Colonel Nelson Drew, who shouldered the burden of seeking peace until their final moment. They stood for peace, they died for peace.
To borrow from Will Rogers' eulogy for Woodrow Wilson, "What they stood for and died for will be strived after for as long as it takes."
Mr. Lake: Today we bring home three friends. Three men of peace who were on a mission of peace. Bob Frasure and Joe Kruzel and Nelson Drew died in the service of our nation and in the cause of humanity. Throughout their careers, and most recently in the former Yugoslavia, all three sought for others the blessings that we Americans sometimes take too much for granted -- peace and security and the opportunity to live the quiet miracle of a life free from war and violence.
The family and loved ones of Bob and Joe and Nelson have lost a father, a husband, a son, a friend, and the American people have lost three of their finest representatives -- men who made the struggle for freedom and decency the defining dedication of a professional life-time.
I want to say a special word about Nelson, who was a member of the staff at the National Security Council.
Nelson was trained to defend our nation and to fight wars. But in the finest tradition of the soldier diplomat, he gave his passion to the search for peace.
I knew of Nelson's extraordinary record at the Air Force Academy and at the National War College and at our mission to NATO, and that's why we were so happy to have him join us at the NSC. Over the past months, I came to know a remarkable military officer, a fine teacher, a real strategic thinker, and a strong and gentle human being.
Nelson combined all of these qualities every day in the relentless search for peace in Bosnia. His ideas and his wisdom were the lifeblood of the plan for peace that he and Bob and Joe were carrying with them when they died.
Let me say to Nelson's wife Sandy, a remarkable woman, and to their children, Samantha and Philip. I know that there are no words that can soothe your grief or make whole your loss. Your husband and father was a remarkable American. I know you will find strength in his strength, seek courage in his courage, and take comfort in all the love that surrounds you.
Nelson, Bob and Joe made a commitment to peace and gave their lives seeking to fulfill it, and today we make, all of us here, a commitment to them to persevere. In the coming days, their memory will infuse every new thought, every new effort, every new surge of energy that all of us will bring to the work that we have shared with them. We will be guided by their example and by their sacrifice, and we will not rest until their struggle that they made their life's calling is won. Unlike Sisyphus, we will put the rock on top of the mountain.
May God bless Bob Frasure and Joe Kruzel and Nelson Drew and their families here.