Peter Pace

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Peter Pace
Born (1945-11-05) November 5, 1945 (age 78)
New York City, New York, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1967–2007
Commands heldChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
U.S. Southern Command
Marine Forces Atlantic
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
Battles/warsVietnam War
Operation Restore Hope
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with valor
Defense Meritorious Service Medal

Peter Pace (born November 5, 1945) is a retired United States Marine Corps general who served as the 16th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pace was the first Marine officer appointed as chairman and the first Marine officer to be appointed to three different four-star assignments; the others were as the sixth vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2001, to August 12, 2005, and as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Southern Command from September 8, 2000, to September 30, 2001. Appointed chairman by President George W. Bush, Pace succeeded U.S. Air Force General Richard Myers on September 30, 2005.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced on June 8, 2007, that he would advise the President to not renominate Pace for a second term. Pace retired from the Marine Corps and stepped down as chairman on October 1, 2007. He was replaced by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Mullen.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Pace was born on November 5, 1945, in New York City's Brooklyn to Italian American parents (from Noci) and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, graduating from Teaneck High School in 1963. He received his commission in June 1967, following graduation from the United States Naval Academy. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University. Pace currently resides in McLean, Virginia; he is married to Lynne Pace, whom he met as a midshipman. They have a son, also named Peter, and a daughter, Tiffany.[3] Pace is a Roman Catholic.[4]



Upon completion of The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, in 1968, Pace was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam, serving first as Platoon Leader of Golf Company's Second Platoon and subsequently as assistant Operations Officer.

Returning from overseas in March 1969, he reported to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. During this tour, he served as head of the Infantry Writer Unit, Marine Corps Institute; platoon leader, Guard Company; security detachment commander, Camp David; White House social aide; and platoon leader, Special Ceremonial Platoon. He was promoted to captain in April 1971. In September 1971, Pace attended the Infantry Officers' Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. Returning overseas in October 1972, he was assigned to the Security Element, Marine Aircraft Group 15, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Namphong, Thailand, where he served as operations officer and then Executive Officer.

In October 1973, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., for duty as the assistant majors' monitor. During October 1976, he reported to the 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, where he served as operations officer, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines; executive officer, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines; and division staff secretary. He was promoted to major on November 1, 1977. In August 1979, he reported to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College as a student.


Upon completion of school in June 1980, he was assigned duty as commanding officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Station, Buffalo, New York. While in this assignment, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in October 1982. Reassigned to the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Pace served from June 1983 until June 1985 as commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. In June 1985, he was selected to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C.

After graduation the following June, he was assigned to the Combined/Joint Staff in Seoul, South Korea. He served as chief, Ground Forces Branch until April 1987, when he became executive officer to the assistant chief of staff, C/J/G3, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea/Eighth United States Army. Pace returned to Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. in August 1988 for duty as commanding officer. He was promoted to colonel in October 1988.


Pace as a brigadier general in 1992.

In August 1991, Pace was assigned duty as chief of staff, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune. During February 1992, he was assigned duty as assistant division commander. He was advanced to brigadier general on April 6, 1992, and was assigned as president of the Marine Corps University and commanding general of Marine Corps Schools at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, on July 13, 1992. While serving in this capacity, he also served as deputy commander, Marine Forces, Somalia, from December 1992 to February 1993, and as the deputy commander, Joint Task Force – Somalia from October 1993 to March 1994. Pace was advanced to major general on June 21, 1994, and was assigned as the deputy commander/chief of staff, U.S. Forces, Japan. He was promoted to lieutenant general and assigned as the director for operations (J-3), Joint Staff, Washington, D.C., on August 5, 1996.

Pace served as the commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic/Europe/South from November 23, 1997, to September 8, 2000.

2000s: Joint Chiefs of Staff[edit]

Pace was promoted to general and assumed duties as the commander-in-chief of United States Southern Command on September 8, 2000, until September 30, 2001, when he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On August 12, 2005, he was succeeded as vice chairman by Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani.

Pace is sworn in as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by outgoing Chairman Richard Myers, September 30, 2005.

On April 22, 2005, at a White House press conference, President George W. Bush nominated Pace to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The previous chairman, Richard Myers, retired from the position on September 30, 2005.

On his nomination, Pace said, "This is an incredible moment for me. It is both exhilarating and humbling. It's exhilarating because I have the opportunity, if confirmed by the Senate, to continue to serve this great nation. It's humbling because I know the challenges ahead are formidable."[5]

On June 29, 2005, Pace appeared before the Armed Services Committee for consideration of his nomination[6] and was later confirmed by the Senate. On September 30, 2005, Pace was sworn in as the 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[7]

General Pace meeting with soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq in December 2006

On November 29, 2005, Pace was present at a press conference given by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, where Rumsfeld said that "the United States does not have a responsibility" to prevent torture by Iraqi officials. Pace drew a distinction between the national responsibility of the United States and the responsibility of individual service members, saying "It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it".[8][9]

In 2006 Pace was named Grand Marshal of New York City's Columbus Day parade.

In a 2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Pace was asked about the don't ask, don't tell policy and said "I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts... I do not believe that the armed forces of the United States are well served by a saying through our policies that it's OK to be immoral in any way." The comments sparked backlash from legislators such as Senator John Warner, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Congressman Marty Meehan. Pace later said he regretted the comments and that they were his "personal moral views."[10][11]

After White House officials asserted that Iran was supplying insurgents in Iraq with munitions, Pace questioned the validity of the claim in a February 2007 press conference. Specifically, Pace questioned the existence of direct evidence linking the Iranian government to the supply of the weapons, explosively formed penetrators.[12]


Pace awaiting President George W. Bush in the auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for a ceremony honoring his service as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On June 8, 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that he would advise the President to not renominate Pace because of concerns about contentious confirmation hearings in Congress. The President instead nominated the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Mullen, to replace Pace.[1][13][14] On October 1, 2007, Pace officially retired at Fort Myer, Virginia.[15]

On one of his last days before retirement, Pace gave a speech at Chaminade High School on Long Island, the high school of the first Marine who died under his command in Vietnam, Guido Farinaro.[16]

After his retirement ceremony, Pace visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. There, he left handwritten notes in memory of each of the Marines who died under his command while he was a platoon leader in Vietnam, with a set of his general's rank insignia attached to each one.[17][18][19] Each note was similar to this one:

These are yours – not mine! With love and respect, your platoon leader, Pete Pace.

Post-military career[edit]

Pace at the 20th White House Tee Ball Initiative in 2008.

On October 1, 2007, the editors of the National Review encouraged Virginia voters to draft Pace to run in 2008 for the Senate seat to be vacated by retiring Senator John Warner. The magazine cited Pace's conservative Catholic beliefs in making its suggestion.[20]

On April 3, 2008, private equity firm Behrman Capital announced that Pace had joined the firm as an operating partner and been named chairman of the board of Behrman portfolio company, Pelican Products.[21][22] He was also named a director of ILC Industries, Inc., also a Behrman company.[23]

Pace also currently serves on the Secretary of Defense's Policy Board,[24] and as chairman of the board for Wall Street Warfighters Foundation,[25] an organization founded by principals of Drexel Hamilton that provides training support and job placement services for disabled veterans interested in careers in the financial services industry.

Pace serves on the board of advisors of the Code of Support Foundation, a nonprofit military service organization.[26]

During the 2016 United States presidential election, the Trump transition team chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recommended Pace to be Trump's National Security Advisor.[27]

Pace became chair of the board of trustees for the Naval Institute Foundation on January 31, 2017.[28] Founded in 1873, the US Naval Institute provides an independent forum for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Dates of rank[edit]

Insignia Rank Date
Second Lieutenant June 7, 1967
First Lieutenant September 7, 1968
Captain March 1, 1971
Major August 1, 1977
Lieutenant Colonel October 1, 1982
Colonel October 1, 1988
Brigadier General April 6, 1992
Major General June 21, 1994
Lieutenant General August 5, 1996
General September 8, 2000


Awards and decorations[edit]

Military and foreign awards[edit]

Pace wearing his medals, ribbons, and four stars.

Pace's personal decorations include:[30]

Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Badge Basic Parachutist Badge
1st Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 3 oak leaf clusters Navy Distinguished Service Medal Army Distinguished Service Medal Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
2nd Row Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal Legion of Merit Bronze Star w/ valor device
3rd Row Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 award star Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/ 1 award star
4th Row Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 3 oak leaf clusters Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star
5th Row Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 3 service stars Presidential Medal of Freedom (non-military award) National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w/ 2 service stars
6th Row Vietnam Service Medal w/ 6 service stars Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Korea Defense Service Medal Humanitarian Service Medal
7th Row Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 2 service stars Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 3 service stars Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon Order of National Security Merit, Tong-il Medal[31]
8th Row 1st Class Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon[32] Order of the Sacred Treasure Order of Naval Merit Admiral Padilla, Grand Cross[33] Meritorious Service Cross[34]
9th Row Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation United Nations Medal w/ 1 service star Vietnam Campaign Medal
Badges Rifle Expert Badge Pistol Expert Badge
Badge Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

Non-military awards[edit]

  • In October 2004, Pace received the Keeper of the Flame Award by the Center for Security Policy.[35]
  • In October 2005, Pace accepted the National Italian American Foundation's (NIAF) Special Achievement Award for Military Service.[36]
  • Pace was awarded the 2005 Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).[37]
  • During the 2006 Congressional Medal of Honor Society meeting, Gen. Pace was awarded the society's Patriot Award, which is presented annually to a "distinguished American who has exemplified the ideals that make this country strong. Their dedication to freedom, their love for fellow man, their allegiance to our flag and a full understanding of its demands, accepted without reservation".[38]
  • In April 2006, the John Carroll Society honored him with the John Carroll Medal.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Gen. Pace to Step Down as Chairman of Joint Chiefs". NPR. June 8, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
  2. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (June 28, 2007). "President Bush Nominates Admiral Michael Mullen and General James Cartwright to Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" (Press release). The White House.
  3. ^ "In Step With: Gen. Peter Pace". Parade Magazine. October 2, 2005.
  4. ^ Jon Ward (March 14, 2007). "Pace clarifies gay comment as his 'personal moral views'". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
  5. ^ "President Nominates General Pace as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary, The White House. April 22, 2005. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
  6. ^ "Hearing Schedule". United States Senate Committee on Armed Services. June 29, 2005. Archived from the original on August 25, 2005.
  7. ^ "Biography General Peter Pace". Joint Chiefs of Staff. October 1, 2007. Archived from the original on February 5, 2008.
  8. ^ Dana Milbank (November 30, 2005). "Rumsfeld's War On 'Insurgents'". The Washington Post. pp. Page A18.
  9. ^ "News Transcript:News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace". DefenseLink News. U.S. Department of Defense. November 29, 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2007.
  10. ^ "General regrets remarks on homosexuality". NBC News. March 13, 2007. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  11. ^ "Top general: Remarks on gays were 'personal moral views' -". Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  12. ^ "Top general casts doubt on Tehran's link to Iraq militias". CNN. February 14, 2007.
  13. ^ James, Frank (June 8, 2007). "Gen. Pace out as Joint Chiefs chairman". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
  14. ^ "Pace Ousted as Joint Chiefs Chairman in Bid to Avert Senate Battle". Congressional Quarterly. June 8, 2007. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
  15. ^ "Farewell to the Chairman, Marine General Peter Pace". DefenseLINK. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved October 2, 2007.
  16. ^ "Chaminade High School". December 31, 1999. Archived from the original on February 23, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  17. ^ "CNN Newsroom: California Freeway Inferno; Former Iraq Commander Blasts War Leadership; Pace's Tribute To Fallen Vietnam Soldiers; Gore's Nobel Prize". CNN. October 13, 2007.
  18. ^ "President Bush Honors Presidential Medal of Freed" (Press release). The East Room: Office of the Press Secretary, The White House. June 19, 2008.
  19. ^ Garamone, Jim (June 19, 2008). "President Confers Medal of Freedom on Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Pace". U.S. Department of Defense. American Forces Press Service.
  20. ^ The Editors (October 1, 2007). "Draft General Pace". National Review. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved October 2, 2007. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  21. ^ "Behrman Capital Names General Peter Pace as Operating Partner". Capital IQ Power Moves. April 3, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  22. ^ "Pelican Products Gets Four Stars: 40 Public Years Later, General Peter Pace Goes Private; Pace's expertise to further strengthen Pelican's military and defense sector credentials" (Press release). Pelican Products Inc. April 2, 2008. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  23. ^ "Noted". Wall Street Journal. April 3, 2008.
  24. ^ White, LCpl Jacquelyn M. (January 13, 2009). "Pentagon unveils official portrait of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs". Headquarters Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  25. ^ "Training Disabled American Heroes for Financial Services Industry". Wall Street Warfighters. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  26. ^ "Code of Support Foundation advisory board". Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  27. ^ Bergen, Peter. (2019). Trump and his generals: the cost of chaos. New York:Penguin Press. ISBN 9780525522416. p. 46.
  28. ^ "Gen. Peter Pace to Chair the U.S. Naval Institute Foundation's Board of Trustees | U.S. Naval Institute". Archived from the original on February 1, 2017.
  29. ^ The Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1949-2012 (PDF) (2 ed.). Joint History Office. October 27, 2012. p. 228. ISBN 978-1480200203.
  30. ^ Joint Chiefs of Staff Bio.
  31. ^ Garamone, Jim (August 16, 2007). "Pace Receives South Korean Award, Thanks U.S. Service members". Seoul, South Korea: U.S. Department of Defense. American Forces Press Service.
  32. ^ Garamone, Jim (August 18, 2007). "Pace Receives Japanese Emperor's Rising Sun Award". Tokyo, Japan: U.S. Department of Defense. American Forces Press Service.
  33. ^ "Gen. Pace pops by Southcom to say goodbye". DoD. Retrieved September 13, 2007.
  34. ^ "General Peter Pace awarded the Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division)" (Press release). Governor General of Canada. September 7, 2007. Archived from the original on November 15, 2007.
  35. ^ "Former Award Recipient Passes Flame to New Keeper". DefenseLink News. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  36. ^ "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Industry Titans Honored at NIAF Gala at Nation's Capital". National Italian American Foundation. Archived from the original on June 29, 2006. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  37. ^ "Top Military Officer Accepts Award 'On Behalf of the 2.4 Million Americans Who Serve This Nation'". Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs. Archived from the original on May 23, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  38. ^ "Congressional Medal of Honor Society Awards, 2006 Boston Convention". Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Archived from the original on May 4, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
  39. ^ Szczepanowski, Richard (April 28, 2006). "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs tells Carroll Society how he depends on God". Catholic Standard. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2008.
  40. ^ Garamone, Jim. "Georgetown University Honors Joint Chiefs Chairman". DefenseLink News. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  41. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  42. ^ "2007 Summit Highlights Photo". Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, with Council member Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
  43. ^ Jim Garamone (April 5, 2006). "World Affairs Council Honors U.S. Servicemembers". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  44. ^ White House Press Release. "President Bush Honors Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients". White House Website. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
  45. ^ USNA Alumni Association Press Release. "Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients Honored". United States Naval Academy Alumni Association. Retrieved March 6, 2009.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Commander of United States Southern Command
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2001–2005) Order of precedence of the United States
as former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2005–2007)
Succeeded byas former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2007–2011)