Good Morning everyone. I don't think any of us would have thought we would have such a beautiful day on the 31st of January. I think someone was obviously listening that we wanted to have a special day for the Chiarelli's. I want to welcome all our distinguished guests, Congressional leaders, Department of Defense leaders, fellow Flag and General Officers, family members of the Chiarelli's. It is great to see so many people out here today. What a fitting tribute to have Pershing's own United States Army's Band join us here today. Their wonderful performances, including today's, epitomize the very best of our Army. I also want to recognize the Soldiers of the Old Guard, including the Fife and Drum Corps and the Presidential Salute Battery. As always, you look great, you perform magnificently. Thank you so much for your steadfast commitment.

Beth, it is always good to see you. You've made many sacrifices as an Army wife and mother. This observance is trivial compared to all you have given us. Please know that Linda and I and the rest of the leaders of the Army and the Joint Force admire your service with our utmost respect and gratitude. We also are honored to have the Chiarelli children and grandchildren with us. Although I actually think the grandchildren stayed behind today. Son Peter Chiarelli is a talented screen writer and move producer, joins us with his wife Jennifer. Daughter Erin, an executive recruiter, is also here alongside her Husband Bryan. We are also honored to have son Patrick Chiarelli, a congressional staffer serving with Representative Jay Insley, here today.

They are a true Army family, always supportive of their dad. They have stood by their father's side for his entire career. As all of us know, soldiering is a family affair. And there is no better example to us than the Chiarelli family.

Today we honor one of the most successful leaders in our Army history. What I 'd like to do is talk a bit about Pete the Soldier and what he has brought to our Army. Pete is the Soldier's Soldier. He has had led Soldiers at all levels of Command. He has exemplified every tenet of leadership we all strive for. Among the first to recognize the evolving nature of the Iraq War, he had the audacity and the will to lead change in Iraq by refocusing our strategy on the population, the absolute key in counterinsurgency. He reprioritized efforts, built consensus, and made a lasting impact. He was the epitome of a Scholar-Warrior in combat. And he brought the same drive to his legendary tenure as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

Pete's service during the last five years of his career reminds me of the service of General George Marshall during World War II. Marshall, like Pete, served thanklessly in strategic levels while others were gaining notoriety in operational levels. Pete put the needs of the nation over his own personal career. And his legacy is one that will be in the history books. Pete, your Army career speaks for itself.

From one Soldier to another, I would just like to tell you what I admire best about you. You are a leader of character with moral and ethical values, and willing to stand up for what is best for our Army. You demanded excellence from your Soldiers, just as you demanded it from yourself. You are a champion for our Wounded Warriors. And as a father of a Wounded Warrior, I can attest that your efforts made a difference, not just to the Soldiers, but to their families as well. And you contributed all this effort while remembering the importance of your tremendous family. I know no one that is more passionate about caring for Soldiers and families.

Pete, your presence will be sorely missed here. But I can look back fondly at the time we shared together and offer my heartfelt thanks for everything you have done. Duty is truly your watchword. Your legacy is the Soldiers you have led, the leaders you have trained and mentored, and the families you have taken care of.

I cannot mention all of Pete's accomplishments without acknowledging his valued partner and teammate. Beth has been by Pete's side throughout his magnificent service to the nation. This is one remarkable lady. She was always unmatched in all that she did to put the care of Soldiers and families first. Beth has been involved in countless causes, including the Military Child Education Coalition, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the USO, the Fisher House Foundation. I could go on for hours. There is no one else that understands the Army family experience over the past decade more so than Beth Chiarelli.

Pete and Beth, you are a fine command team together, graciously taking on difficult challenges and truly ensuring our Army is the strength of the Nation. In this profession, we make our mark through the legacy of people that followed our footsteps. You both have touched the lives of thousands and leave behind a deep bench of prodigies. Because of you, the Army will be a better place for many years to come.

Thank you for selflessly putting your heart and soul into everything you undertook. Thank you for your steadfast leadership, genuine compassion, and total dedication to our Army. You will be genuinely missed, but know that you will never be forgotten. God Bless you, and God Bless the Chiarelli family as you transition to the next phase of your lives. And may God Bless America.

Page last updated Mon February 6th, 2012 at 00:00