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In 2010, at the age of 88, Stan Pace stood in front of an audience at Eldorado Country Club in California, and for ninety minutes, pausing only briefly for sips of water, he regaled the dinner guests with captivating stories of Air Force bombing missions and his time spent as a prisoner of war in Germany.
While reliving his relationships with other pilots, doctors and nurses, and German authorities, Stan inadvertently illuminated his selflessness, ethics, and character. Attributes that defined Stan throughout his distinguished military career and exceptional successes as a civilian.
Stan told of a mission in 1944 to bomb the Manzell-Dornier Works in Friedrichshafen. During the course of action, his plane was hit and soon engulfed in flame. “You’ve probably seen this kind of fire on TV or in the movies,” Stan illustrated the intensity of the situation. “Well this was not TV or a movie. The flame was real in reds, oranges, and yellows, and it was right over my shoulder.”
With a calm voice peppered with light-hearted humor, Stan went on to describe his escape plan.
When he turned the corner to leave, he saw that his co-pilot had been trapped in the plane by his parachute.
“First thing that came to mind was, I guess I better get the hell out of here. Second thing was, I guess I should probably call the crew and tell them I’m leaving. So, I pressed the alarm and pressed intercom and said bail out!” When he turned the corner to leave, he saw that his co-pilot had been trapped in the plane by his parachute. He was blocking the exit. “First thought was I need to find another way out. Second thought was maybe I ought to try and help him.”
Stan rescued his friend and was badly burned in the process. He spent the next five months in a hospital in Munich where his generosity of spirit again came to the fore. One evening, he learned of a German patient with type A/B blood who was seriously injured and in need of an immediate transfusion. The hospital had used up their reserve and knowing Stan shared this unique blood type the doctors asked if he would be willing to donate. Stan agreed with no hesitation.
Watching the video of his father’s speech, Dick Pace relishes in the stories shared and smiles broadly when speaking of his father’s character.
“The Air Force greatly shaped my father’s morals and appreciation for all people. He firmly believed that people were people no matter what side of the war they were on. His whole life he treated everyone with respect whether you were the President of United States or a mechanic he worked with at TRW.”
Stanley passed away in January of 2021 at the age of 100, leaving behind his beautiful wife of 75 years, Elaine. After graduating from West Point and before his deployment to North Africa, Stan met Elaine in Tucson on a double date. When he returned from the war, he promptly returned to Tucson to propose. The couple wed on August 21, 1945 in Tucson and honeymooned in Miami, during August and September. Elaine now lives in Chagrin Falls and is overcome with emotion when remembering her husband, “He was my best friend.”
“His respect for people is a characteristic we hope we can all emulate. His favorite saying was ‘Leave things better than you found them’.” Ask anyone whose lives he touched, and they would say he did just that.
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