Saturday, January 12, 2008

From the blog WTF Over -

An article on the talk that chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Peter Pace gave to the student body at Chaminade High in Mineola:

"Marine Gen. Peter Pace came to this Catholic school to honor Lance Corporal Farinaro, the first Marine to die following 2nd Lt. Peter Pace’s orders. The four-star general keeps a picture of the young lance corporal under the glass on his desk in the Pentagon to remind him of the sacrifices young servicemembers make.

Rev. James C. Williams, the president of the school, invited Pace to address the 1,700 students of the all-male school.

“This is selfish on my part to want to come here to Chaminade,” Pace told the students. “I’ve been invited to several Gold Star Masses and have not been able to attend. I did not want to leave active duty without coming to the place from which the single most influential military person in my life graduated.”

The lance corporal’s death also had a profound impact on the young lieutenant. “We were on patrol one day outside Da Nang, and Guido was killed by a sniper,” Pace said. “As I stayed with him, a sense of rage came through me, and as the platoon leader, I started calling an artillery strike on the village where the round had been fired.

“My platoon sergeant, who was my age – 21 or 22 -- didn’t say anything at all,” Pace said. “He just looked at me. And I knew in the look that he gave me that what I was doing was wrong.”

Pace called off the strike and led the platoon to do what he should have done in the first place – a dismounted sweep of the village. “We found nothing but women and children,” he said. “Had that artillery strike been conducted, I do not know how I could have possibly lived with myself.”

The lesson for Pace was immediate. “Regardless what you do in your life, hold on to your moral compass,” he said. “When you are emotionally least capable of defending yourself is when the biggest challenge will come. If you don’t have an idea of what you will let yourself do and what you will not let yourself do, you may find that you have done something that you would never believe yourself capable of doing.”

He said his epiphany came in combat, but it doesn’t have to. “I learned that day, to think through what was going to be happening each day thereafter, and to think through what I would allow myself to do and not do,” he said.

It could come in a meeting, a test, a temptation, whatever. “If you have thought through who you want to be at the end of each day, you will see that person,” he said. “But, if you have not, you may not like the person you end up being.”