Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jeanne Y. Pace has a unique perspective.
Enlisting in the Woman’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1972, Pace has been in the Army Band field for over 40 years. Back when Pace first joined the Army, Women were still being taught how to do their make-up in basic training.
Pace said the Army has changed in the time she’s been apart of it “most significantly” for women.
“From not being a part of the Regular Army,” said Pace. “To the lift of combat exclusion.”
Retiring this week after 43 years of service, Pace has many milestones to her credit. Pace is the last active duty soldier from the WAC, the longest serving woman, and the only woman to ever command the Old Guard’s Fife and Drum Corps (FDC).
Pace has had many opportunities to be the first woman to accomplish things, she is hopeful it won’t be an “only” or “last” situation.
Though she is often uncomfortable in the spotlight, Pace said she found a way to accept the attention.
During her time with the FDC, Pace had a much different experience from other assignments.
“As the Commander I did not perform with the FDC; I was responsible for the quality of their musical performance but did not lead them in performances,” said Pace. “I did march with them on occasion during street parades.”
Pace said the highlight of her time at The Old Guard was when the nation was in need.
“Aside from the obvious prestigious audiences, the most defining moment was the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11,” said Pace. “FDC Soldiers were involved with Operation Noble Eagle. We participated in recovery efforts and security measures at the Pentagon and on Fort Myer during the days that followed.”
Though many things in her time in the Army changed, there has always been one constant: Music.
“Music has been an integral part of Army life,” said Pace. “From the earliest days when musicians were utilized to rally the commands and entertained troops around the evening campfires!”
Pace said she was able to reach her goals by simply staying motivated.
“Many things I had little control of,” said Pace. “I guess recognizing opportunities that presented themselves and looking for challenges, not the comfortable jobs.”
By learning from superiors, peers, and subordinates, Pace stayed relevant. “Don’t be afraid of change,” said Pace. “Semper gumby – always flexible.” Pace said the advice she would want if she could do it all over again is to keep a better balance in life and take care of herself as much as others.
Pace’s future plans include utilizing her GI Bill and perhaps doing some substitute teaching.
“In other words, no full time job,” said Pace. “Part time to allow me to do some traveling and enjoy my hobbies.”