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Gary L. Pace

War: Vietnam

Class: 1969

Major: Civil Engineering

Activities and Sports while at Clemson: Army ROTC 1, 2, 3, 4; Clemson Soccer Team, Goalie; Society of American Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers

Home Town: Easley, SC

Service: Army

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: B Company, 31st Engineer Battalion, 159th Engineer Group, 20th Engineer Brigade, US Army Vietnam   

Date of Death: March 30, 1971; Lt Pace’s body was recovered and is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park, Greenville, SC.

Details of Death: Killed in Action. LT Pace was lost in action against a hostile force when enemy sappers attacked a fire support base west of Tay Ninh City, T
ay Ninh Province, South Vietnam near the Cambodian border. Lt Pace was lost when he went to the aid of a wounded fellow soldier. Fire Support Base Lanyard, where the engagement took place, was later relocated and renamed Fire Support Base Pace in LT Pace’s honor.



Awards / Citations: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Citation to Accompany the Silver Star Medal awarded posthumously to Gary L. Pace, by direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress, 9 July 1918, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam.  First Lieutenant Gary L. Pace distinguished himself by exceptionally valorious acts on 30 March 1971, when fire base Lanyard, Republic of Vietnam, was attacked by an estimated squad of NVA sappers.  First Lieutenant Pace reacted immediately and rallied a force of engineers to counter the sapper thrust.  Leading his men into the fire base motor pool, First Lieutenant Pace encountered the sapper element in close combat.  At this time, SP5 Kenneth E. Williams fell wounded, and First Lieutenant Pace moved forward into a hail of hostile fire in an attempt to withdraw SP5 Williams to safety.  With complete disregard for his own safety, First Lieutenant Pace moved through the automatic weapons fire and exploding satchel charges.  Upon reaching SP5 Williams, First Lieutenant Pace fell mortally wounded.  His personal bravery and devotion to duty cost First Lieutenant Pace his life.  The exceptionally valorious actions of First Lieutenant Pace were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Married / Children: Wife: Patricia Keller Pace


Other: Lt Pace’s name is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC on Panel 04W, Line 095.  His name is also listed on the Vietnam War Plaque on the Pickens County Memorial at the county courthouse in Pickens, South Carolina.             

The following article was printed in The Tiger, the Clemson University newspaper, on April 9, 1971 and was provided by Steve Pace, brother of 1LT Gary Pace.

Before Saturday’s soccer game, there will be a moment of silence in memory of 1st Lt Gary Lynn Pace of Easley who gave his life on March 30th in the line of duty in Vietnam.  Gary came from Parker High School to become the best goalie in Clemson soccer’s short history.  He represented Clemson in the 67-68-69 seasons and was voted ALL-ACC Second Team in 1969.  On May 9, 1969, Gary was married to the former Patricia Keller of East Petersburg, PA.  The following December he graduated and received his commission from Army ROTC.

The following was compiled from obituary articles printed in the Greenville News, Greenville, SC on April 5, 1971 and April 8, 1971.  They were provided by Steve Pace, brother of 1LT Gary Pace on January 19, 2010, and by Ms Rulinda Price from The South Carolina Room of the Greenville County Public Library on January 4, 2010, with the assistance of Mr L.G. “Skip” Lewis ’66, H2L Consulting Engineers, Greenville, SC.

Easley Man Killed in Vietnam

1st Lt. Gary Lynn Pace, 24, of Rt. 5, Easley, Dacusville Community, was killed in Vietnam March 30.  Born in Greenville, son of E. W. and Pauline Foster Pace of Rt. 5, Easley, he was a graduate of Parker High School and Clemson University.

Surviving also are his wife, Mrs. Patricia Keller Pace; a brother, Sgt Steve Preston Pace with the Air Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.; his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. S. L. Pace of Rt. 1, Pickens and Mrs. J. C. Foster of Tryon, N.C.  Private graveside services will be held Friday, April 9, in Woodlawn Memorial Park.  The family will receive friends at Thomas McAfee Funeral Home on Thursday evening.

The following article was provided by Steve Pace, brother of 1LT Gary Pace.

In-Service: Lt Pace’s Widow Given Medals For Easley Hero Killed In Viet Rescue Attempt

Indiantown Gap, Pa. – Posthumous awards earned by Army 1st Lt Gary L. Pace, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar W. Pace of Rt. 5, Easley, S. C., have been received by his wife, Patricia. Pace was killed in action in Vietnam last March 30. On the day of his death he earned the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest decoration, for heroism in combat. The citation accompanying the Silver Star states that Pace was mortally wounded by hostile fire while attempting to rescue one of the men of his unit who was wounded.

In addition to the Silver Star, the Lieutenant’s wife received the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. The decorations which he earned prior to his death, the National Defense Service Medal and Vietnam Service and Campaign Medals, were also given to Mrs. Pace by Capt. James R. McIntyre of the US Army Garrison, Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, who is serving as survival assistance officer.

Pace was a native of Easley. He began military training in the ROTC Program while attending Clemson University. He was commissioned when he graduated from the university in 1969. In February, 1970, he began active duty. In addition to his wife, the former Patricia Keller of Lancaster, Pa., and parents, he is survived by a brother, Steve P. Pace, who resides at home with his parents.


Personal Remembrances and Tributes:

"I briefly met 1LT Gary Pace that day. He may have been on temporary duty assignment perhaps filling in for one of our officers who was on leave. I had been a regular at Fire Support Base Lanyard for many months, less than a kilometer from the Cambodian border in the Dog Face area. I was Section Chief, E-6, on an 8 inch howitzer battery with about 12 men. The base had batteries of 8 inch, 175 mm and 155mm guns, and a South Vietnamese infantry company that did some of the guard duty work.

As I recall, when daily guard duty assignments were made, we had an officer and a non-com (Sgt) of the guard. Lieutenant Pace was Officer of the Guard that night at FSB Lanyard, west of Tay Ninh City and a few hundred yards from the Cambodian border, over which many of our artillery rounds were directed. I was Sgt of the Guard on the other side of the compound. Each of us took a sector of the perimeter. Guard duty was especially hard work after a full day of being awake. Sleep was a precious commodity. His area was breached that night by sappers and all hell broke loose. Our large 8 inch, 175mm and 155mm howitzers were of little help when these sappers attacked, bent on blowing up our munitions. They did not succeed. The commotion around LT Pace brought us all to alert. I do know that Lt Pace and the other men in his vicinity squelched the attack, captured one and killed the others and kept the sappers from blowing up our ammo bunkers, which would have blown us all to smithereens. One of the sappers, blackened face and quite young, was captured alive and turned over to ARVN interrogators. My photograph, taken the next morning, shows him scared, as many of us were. That face haunts me to this day. FSB Lanyard was renamed FSB Pace shortly thereafter, named after a fine man whose family gave up one of their best.   
 
Had I known that Gary was a Clemson guy, I would have talked football and basketball and IPTAY with him. When I wandered the Clemson campus in 2004 I thought a lot about him and wished I had taken the time to know him better. God bless him. I thank him belatedly these many years later."
 
Staff Sergeant Rojer Atkin, 2/32 Artillery, C Battery, 8 inch Section Chief, II Field Forces

Rojer Atkin
Mount Dora, FL
January 9, 2010

The following tributes were copied with the approval and provided courtesy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Page, www.thewall-usa.com

"My Brother - My Hero. My mind is flooded with memories of our childhood.  We grew up in the Sans Souci area of Greenville. We were pretty much normal kids. We played sports, mainly baseball, football and basketball in our yard or the road in front of the house. Gary was better at basketball than other sports. Of course he was 6'4" and I was only 6'3" and two years younger than him, so he would beat me all the time. We had several great friends to play with. Wayne Ballew, his brother Ronnie, Rick Elrod and his brother Donnie, Jimmy Taylor, Tony Hester, the Tollison brothers Lester and Tom, and the Beards. Jim, Johnny, and Billy. During High School at Parker, Gary took up for me a couple of times when older guys were picking on me.  He was a great older brother. I wish I could tell him now how much I miss him and loved him. He was a very good student at Parker, played JV basketball in 10th grade for Whitey Kendall. The band was his best extra-curricular activity as a snare drum player. The Parker High Band was one of South Carolina's top bands in those days under the excellent direction of James Senn. They won many trophies and band competitions. Gary knew he wanted to build things, so after high school he went to Clemson and studied civil engineering, excelling there as a student and an athlete. He had never played soccer before but a friend went out for the team and asked Gary to come too. He became their goalie and did quite well on the "club team", as it was not a regular conference sport at that time. When Gary was at Clemson, it was required that all male students take two years of Army or Air Force ROTC. Gary chose Army ROTC and took two more years of ROTC, so when he graduated from Clemson he went in the Army as a 2nd Lt. I was in the Air Force when Gary went in the Army. He was married to Patricia in 1969. After a stint at Fort's Jackson and Belvoir, he was sent to Viet Nam in December of 1970. The only thing I remember of our last visit together was I told him to keep his butt down over there and I'd see him in a year. It was far in the back of my mind that I might not ever see him again. With him being in the engineering division I didn't think he would be in any real hostile situations. Sometime in mid March of 1971, he was sent to Tay Ninh to fill in for someone on R&R. My wife Teresa and I had just arrived home from Camp LeJeune for the weekend. We walked in the house and mother just came rushing to me and hugged me tightly. Then Dad came in the hall where we were and said that Gary was dead. I was numb for a long time. It was just so hard to believe. We had to wait about a week or ten days for his remains to come home. My Uncle Dwight went to the mortuary to identify the body. It was too painful for myself, Mom or Dad to identify Gary's body. We wanted to remember him like we last saw him. The visitation and funeral were the saddest occasions I have ever attended."

Steve Pace
Brother
Easley, SC



"1Lt Pace was a fine leader, and a fine man. I was proud to serve under him. I remember that night - can’t forget it. I can’t remember the name of the fire support base that was attacked, but I know the one we were building was named Pace. I pray GOD blessed the entire Pace family, and I know I will see him again in heaven."

Thomas R. Johnson
SSG, Platoon Member
Trenton, FL
January 28, 2002


"I was there the night we were assaulted by sappers at FSB Lanyard. We were building a new FSB to move Lanyard away from the border of Cambodia. This FSB would be named after LT Pace after his death. It was quite a night and one I certainly will not forget. Lt. Pace was a hero. He went between some trucks to help a soldier who was wounded. No greater love."

Tim Colgan
La Crosse, WI
March 06, 2002


"Brandon and Parker boy remembers: Gary was older than me and I never really knew him, but I do remember the sadness of so many in the Brandon community when Gary died. The Pace family is and has always been a class act. God bless them and especially Gary for his sacrifice."

Larry Durham
Easley, SC
Apr 24, 2009

 

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