Weyand remembered for 'extraordinary' leadership
By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
At yesterday's interment ceremony for retired Gen. Frederick C. Weyand, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki recalled the first time he laid eyes on the larger-than-life Army chief of staff at a forward operating base in Vietnam.
"It was like John Wayne had just arrived," Shinseki told the assembled guests.
To be sure, the 6-foot-5 Weyand was an imposing physical specimen, but as Shinseki noted, it was his devotion to duty, his distinguished service in war and peace, and his love for friends, family and soldiers under his command that were "his true measure."
Weyand , who served in three wars and held numerous positions including Army chief of staff and commander of U.S. Army Pacific during a 38-year military career, died Feb. 10 at the age of 93.
Yesterday's service at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific included a 19-cannon salute, a helicopter flyover, a 21-gun salute, and musical tributes by the 25th Infantry Division Band.
Among those in attendance were U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey, who presented flags to Weyand's family.
Afterward, Abercrombie reflected on Weyand's character and contributions, in particular the general's work in rebuilding the Army in the aftermath of Vietnam.
"He had extraordinary qualities of leadership in the sense that he had a flexibility of spirit but a constancy of purpose that was just what was needed," Abercrombie said. "He had an inherent kindliness that manifested itself in a welcoming spirit. Whatever your trials or tribulations, he was available to you."
Abercrombie recalled the chilly reception he got during his early days on the Armed Services Committee.
"Fred Weyand was the one who held his hand out to me and gave me his advice and counsel freely and fully," he said. "He was a tremendous source of strength and support to me. He had a tremendous reservoir of knowledge and experience that he was always willing to share.
"He had a remarkable combination of deep intelligence and complete lack of ego. He understood himself. He did not need anybody else to complete himself, and so he was able to give of himself to everybody else. That rare trait of leadership made him a singular person."