June 6th, 2007 09:20 EST
Pace Faces Tough Questions From Young Citizens
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii, June 6, 2007 – Marine Gen. Peter Pace has faced tough questions from the president, the National Security Council and members of Congress. The toughest questions, however, seem to come from the nation’s youngest citizens.
During a town hall meeting here yesterday, for example, 8-year-old Katherina Daul asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Why do soldiers have to deploy so long?”
Katherina had thought her dad -- Capt. Kevin Daul, a chaplain assigned to the 45th Special Troop Brigade -- was coming home soon, after being deployed to Iraq for 11 months. She recently learned that instead of being gone 12 months, he’s going to be gone 15 months.
Pace came here specifically to meet with family members whose loved ones are among the first to be extended under the Army’s new policy. He was on his way back to the United States from a trip to Singapore and Malaysia.
Katherina came out to the base theater to see the chairman with her mom, Carol, and her 11-year-old brother Jeremiah. After about 45 minutes of questions and answers by the grown ups in the room, Jeremiah raised his hand.
In a gentlemanly fashion, he thanked the chairman for meeting with them and offered a suggestion. Jeremiah said that along with rest and recuperation back home, the Army should send soldiers from Iraq for R&R at military resorts in Germany and then send the families to join them.
“That’s a great idea,” Pace said. “It would be a great way to show that we value the families. I’ll look into that.”
Pace also reassured Jeremiah that he is doing everything he can to make sure that military parents have more time to spend with their children.
After a few more questions by the grownups, Pace turned to a tiny hand in the air. “Are you trying to upstage your brother?” he teased Katherina.
The youngster took the microphone and slowly and clearly asked, “Why do soldiers have to deploy so long?”
Pace’s answer seemed to resonate with the audience as a reminder of why they were all there in the first place.
“Soldiers have to deploy so long sometimes, because soldiers love their daughters,” the chairman replied, drawing applause.
“And as much as your Daddy would prefer to be here right now hugging you, he wants to make sure that you get to grow up in the same United States that he got to grow up in,” Pace said.
“There are bad people out there who want to change that. Your Daddy is going to make sure that they don’t,” he said.
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service