BRAWLEY — Patrick Pace remembers his son, U.S. ArmyCapt. Scott Patrick Pace, as competitive but also a “very tender” person who was devoted to the men under his command.
Pace, who was stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed in a helicopter crash Wednesday, according to his parents. He was one of two International Security Assistance Force service members killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan.
“He strived to do well,” Pace said about his oldest son, a Brawley Union High graduate known for being a star athlete and a dedicated student. He played basketball and swam, said his father, and graduated fifth in his class.
Although Pace didn’t have the typical physical attributes to play basketball, and was asked by doctors not to play due to a medical condition, he trained and pushed himself nonetheless, said his younger sister Brooke Pace. “Scott was a hard worker” and very ambitious, she said.
In fact, his father remembers he would hold brooms up high for his son to practice basketball blocking. He would also draw a basketball court on the street, and sprint from side to side, his father said.
“He was an awesome kid,” said Billy Brewer, Brawley Union High School athletic director. “He was a coach’s dream and a leader. He’ll be missed dearly in this community.”
While the Department of Defense confirmed the deaths in a press release about the crash Wednesday, the identities of the deceased have not been confirmed. And while it wasn’t clear whether Scott Pace was the pilot of the helicopter, his father said he was an Army copter pilot.
But Scott Pace was also a nuclear engineer who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point N.Y. in 2005. He graduated along his younger brother Richard. By then, Scott Pace had been a missionary in Argentina with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years and attended Brigham Young University for another.
While at West Point, Pace was also active in sports. He played basketball, sprint football and was part of the handball team that won the Division 2 U.S. National Championship in 2004. “And he was the most valuable player,” his father said.
Following West Point, Scott Pace decided to go into aviation, where he specialized in the Kiowa helicopter, said his father, which is a gunship particularly used in Afghanistan to support troops.
Scott Pace became a platoon leader shortly after, his father said.
After flight school, Scott Pace did two tours in Iraq “back to back,” his father said. While in Iraq, he faced combat and once was a victim of a rocket attack. “It landed about 20 feet away,” his father said. “The shrapnel scratch him a little bit,” he said, but he wasn’t seriously wounded. He got the Purple Heart for that incident. This was just one of the 16 medals Scott Pace received during his military career.
In 2009 Scott Pace went to Fort Huachuca, Ariz. There he did the captain’s career course and intelligence training, and shortly after was assigned to Fort Bragg, where he became a troop commander, his father said.
The Fox Troop “(is) a special combined unit, where he had both Kiowa and Apache helicopters,” he said. “His goal, stated many times, was to bring everybody home alive, and he tried really hard to do that,” his father said.
“From the little old lady down the street, to his grandma, to his (best) friend’s daughter, he had a smile for anybody that knew him,” Brooke Pace said about her brother. “And he would stand up and fight for the people and just anyone, including the men he served with,” she said.
Capt. Scott Patrick Pace had turned 33 last Sunday. He was scheduled to return from Afghanistan in September.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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