envoy to China
The retired admiral onceBy Gregg K. Kakesako
was leader of the Pacific
Command at Camp Smith
Retired four-star Adm. Joseph W. Prueher has been chosen by the White House to be the next U.S. ambassador to China.
Earlier this year, Prueher, 56, stepped down as commander in chief of the Pacific Command headquartered at Camp Smith, where he was in charge of 330,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
Prueher's selection comes as relations with China have become unstable. NATO fighters recently bombed the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia by mistake, resulting in protests across China.
Prueher will replace James Sasser.
During his three years as head of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, Prueher, a China scholar, logged more than 800,000 miles of travel. His legacy is a lasting imprint on U.S.-China strategy and tactics.
He left Hawaii in March but remained in the Navy working on new flight agreements with the Italian government. He retired this month.
At his change-of-command ceremony in Hawaii in February, Prueher was described by Secretary of Defense William Cohen as a national hero.
"Joe Prueher is exactly what he appears to be: a man of principle, free of self-doubt; a man of wisdom, free of narrow thoughts; a man of courage, free of fear," Cohen said.
While heading the Pacific Command, Prueher sent American warships into the Straits of Taiwan in 1996 to warn China not to use war games to disrupt elections in Taiwan.
He has served as vice chief of naval operations in the Pentagon, the No. 2 job in the Navy. From February 1989 to January 1991, he headed the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Prueher, a test pilot, flew combat missions in Vietnam. He has earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. He also commanded the Navy's 6th Fleet.
He is the second top-ranked military officer in recent years to join the U.S. diplomatic corps. His predecessor at the Pacific Command, Adm. William Crowe, went on to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then ambassador to Britain.
Adm. Joseph Prueher
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Education: Bachelor's degree, U.S. Naval Academy; master's in international affairs from George Washington University; graduate, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School; U.S. Naval War College