The University of Miami observed Veterans Day by recognizing the men and women on campus, in the community and across our state and nation who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and share the most special of bonds.
"Today I'm proud to salute these courageous men and women who bring their extraordinary discipline, leadership, skills and insights to our campuses," University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala said, before summoning second-year Miami Law student Noel C. Pace to the stage for the ceremony's highlight – Pace's celebratory promotion to colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.
One of the few new colonels confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Pace entered law school after a successful career in both civilian and military health care management, including his command of the 560th Medical Company in the Republic of Korea, participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and 2008 deployment to Colombia for Operation Willing Spirit, when he was Chief of the Medical Plans Division at the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
But Pace – who took the podium after SOUTHCOM's Major General Ricky L. Waddell administered Pace's oath of office, and Pace's father Ronald and wife Claudia Cubillos affixed the colonel's eagle patch on each his shoulders – spoke not about his own accomplishments, but of the University's long history of support for the military. He noted, for example, that during World War II, the University trained Army air corpsmen and Royal Air Force cadets for service. Decades later, nearly every Forward Surgical Team bound for duty overseas trains at UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital's Army Trauma Training Center, for which Pace once served as executive officer.
"You can see there is a tight fit between the University of Miami and the military," Pace said.