Gen. Peter Pace, the 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to Chaminade students Friday about a fellow serviceman and graduate of our school who made a profound impact on his life.
Before serving as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, an appointment held by the highest-ranking military officer of the U.S. armed forces, Gen. Pace began his career as a young Marine 2nd lieutenant deployed to Vietnam. During the Tet Offensive in 1968, Pace would meet a Chaminade graduate he called "the single most influential military person" in his life.
Guido Farinaro '67 chose not to go to college, even though nearly all of his classmates did. "He was born in Italy, raised in the United States, and had the opportunity to attend this incredible school," Gen. Pace explained. "As a result, he felt a need to pay back his adopted country before pursuing his personal goals."
2nd Lt. Pace and Lance Cpl. Farinaro met and served together in Vietnam. Pace was the third leader of their platoon in as many weeks. Its ranks had dwindled from nearly 40 Marines to 14 – including Guido.
"I came to know him as a great young man," Gen. Pace remembered.
Within five months, however, Lance Cpl. Farinaro would be killed by a sniper. He was the first Marine to die under Pace's leadership. Gen. Pace vowed to live his own life in a way to honor Guido's legacy. He kept a photo of Guido on his desk and even wrote his name on a pad of paper any time he testified before Congress.
"No matter how intense the questioning would get, I would look at that piece of paper and say, 'This is your responsibility. You owe it to Guido.'"
In 2018, 50 years after Guido's death, Gen. Pace and his wife Lynne established the Lance Cpl. Guido Farinaro Scholarship for Chaminade students.
Gen. Pace reflected, "Guido had an incredible influence on my life. I learned from him that we don't control when we die, but we do control how we live."
He hopes the Chaminade men who receive the scholarship are just as inspired by the lance corporal's character and sacrifice.
"You have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to continue Guido's legacy. This means more than just remembering his name, and honoring his service. Do that – but do more! Tell Guido's story, and teach others about his character. By doing this, he lives on at Chaminade, and in you."
Now retired, Gen. Pace has visited Chaminade three times since 2007.
"Guido Farinaro represents to me the best of American youth, and my responsibility to live my life in a better way," Gen. Pace told students. "A lot of people around me know who Guido Farinaro is. They always will until I die."