Fallon weighs anchor - for now
Adm. William Fallon is honored before he heads to the Mideast
By Gregg K. Kakesako
ADM. WILLIAM "Fox" Fallon gave hints that Hawaii could become his home port one day as he got ready to weigh anchor to become leader of troops in the Middle East.
Fallon, currently commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, addressed state lawmakers and said he had an "anchor in my back pocket and would like to eventually throw it down here."
Yesterday, as he waited for action on his nomination by the Senate Armed Services Committee as the first naval officer to head Central Command in its 24-year history, Fallon and his wife, Mary, were honored by both houses of the Legislature.
They also paid their last visits to Gov. Linda Lingle and Mayor Mufi Hannemann, knowing that once Senate approval came through, he would leave immediately for Florida, where his new command is located. Aides said committee action could come as early as today.
His wife said they were contemplating a Hawaii retirement home before the admiral was selected for the Central Command job. "It was on our mind before this came up," she told reporters. "Bill has said to me on numerous occasions, 'I think we should be looking around for a little piece of something here.'"
Fallon, who started his career flying combat missions over Vietnam in Vigilante jets from the deck of an aircraft carrier, shied away from talking about his new assignment, which places a naval aviator as the commander of all U.S. forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He also holds the distinction of being the first four-star officer to move between regional combatant commands -- going from the Pacific Command to Central Command.
"I have no doubt that the task in front of us is immense," he told Senate lawmakers. "I have a good understanding of the consequences and the actions that await us in the future."
Fallon, 62, added, "The nation has asked us for a new approach. The president has asked for a new approach and new leadership, and in Navy parlance, I will answer the bell and do whatever I can to try to help the situation."
In his House speech, Fallon referred to the $50 million high-tech rehabilitation center, financed by private funds and designed to serve the growing number of soldiers who return from war with amputated limbs or severe burns.
"Its sole purpose is to try to heal the bodies of service personnel," Fallon said. "The idea that Americans would do this and feel so strongly in something they ought to do aside from government speaks volumes."
Republican Sen. Fred Hemmings, who introduced Fallon in the Senate, said that shortly after the admiral took command two years ago, he asked Hemmings for surfing lessons.
"I took him out on one lesson, and he's been on his own since then," he said.