General's 'generosity of spirit' saluted
• Photo gallery: Gen. Frederick C. Weyand funeral services
By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
To Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, it was no coincidence that Gen. Frederick Weyand was the man tasked with shepherding U.S. forces through the tumultuous final days of Vietnam and the painful rebuilding that took place immediately thereafter.
"Some people are in the right place at the right time," Mixon said. "I will tell you that it was more than destiny that he ended up where he was when you look at the total breadth of his career."
Hundreds of mourners crowded Central Union Church yesterday afternoon to bid farewell to Weyand, who died Feb. 10 at age 93, and to reflect on the his remarkable military career and a retirement spent trying to improve the lives of people in his adopted Hawai'i community.
Among those in attendance were several high-ranking military officers, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Mixon said Weyand's extensive experience, integrity and humble, low-key approach — qualities frequently mentioned during yesterday's service — were the right match for the challenges faced by the U.S. Army in the 1970s.
Weyand, one of the first to recognize the fading prospects for U.S. military success in Vietnam, served as adviser to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge at the Paris Peace Talks and oversaw the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam as Army chief of staff.
(Weyand's extensive military resume also included service as commander of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific.)
"It simply demonstrates the confidence senior military and political leaders had in him," Mixon said.
Mixon became friends with Weyand after taking over command of the 25th Infantry Division five years ago. He said Weyand offered valuable advice in understanding the Hawai'i community and the needs of military families.
Friends, family and military colleagues yesterday remembered Weyand as a man of rare gifts, uncommon humility and a disarming sense of humor.
"He was better than me in everything except neurosurgery," said Weyand's 86-year-old brother Bob, a retired doctor. "In high school he had straight A's. He had a great intellect and he was also a very good athlete.
"He was kind of a renegade as a young man," Bob Weyand said. "He didn't like discipline until he joined the service."
After four decades and three wars, Weyand retired to Hawai'i, keeping busy as a trustee for the now-defunct Damon Estate and influential member of a host of civic and charitable organizations.
Friends said Weyand quietly donated large sums of money to causes he saw as worthwhile. Mixon said Weyand regularly purchased tickets for the Army Ball to give to spouses of soldiers on deployment.
"That's who he was," Mixon said. "He didn't want any personal credit."
Tim Johns, whom Weyand mentored when Johns joined the Damon Estate as chief executive officer, said Weyand's true legacy would be his "generosity of spirit."
"He dearly loved his country," Johns told the crowd. "He dearly loved his fellow soldiers. He dearly loved his community, his church and his friends. And he dearly loved his family."
Longtime friend and fellow rotarian Ed Carter recalled Weyand's humble beginnings as a young boy in tiny Arbuckle, Calif., and marveled at the "extraordinary" things he later accomplished.
"He was a true patriot and hero, a community leader and a soldier's soldier," Carter said.