One of the last tasks carried out by Patrick Shanahan as acting secretary of defense was to honor his much-revered predecessor by hanging an official portrait in the Pentagon of former Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis.
The beautifully-crafted painting features Chaos standing in front of a Department of Defense placard in one of his recognizable suit and tie combinations.
Intricate details were added to include the signatures of the United States Constitution in the tie. On his wrist, an exposed cufflink reveals the Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem of the Marine Corps, in which Mattis spent 43 years.
It’s almost perfect — just missing a knife hand.
“During his forty-three year Marine Corps career he commanded Sailors and Marines from platoon through Marine Expeditionary Force,” part of the description next to the portrait reads.
“In joint assignments, he served as Executive Secretary for the Department of Defense and as Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. As a four-star general, he commanded US Joint Forces Command, NATO’s Supreme Allied Command for Transformation, and US Central Command.”
Shanahan stepped in as acting defense secretary Jan. 1 following an abrupt end to Mattis’ tenure that came amid a number of disagreements with President Donald Trump’s administration.
The retired general announced his resignation in late December 2018, but planned to perform his duties through the end of February, allowing the president adequate time to find "a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours,” Mattis wrote in his resignation letter.
Just three days later, however, Trump announced that Shanahan would assume the position starting Jan. 1, forcing Mattis out in a move the president insisted was a firing, not a resignation.
“I’m not happy with what he has done in Afghanistan," Trump said days after Mattis was dismissed. “And I shouldn’t be. I wish him well. I hope he does well. As you know, President [Barack] Obama fired him, and essentially so did I. I want results.”
Expected by many to assume the role of defense secretary permanently, Shanahan sent a shockwave through the Pentagon Tuesday by withdrawing his name as a candidate amid background check results that revealed a history of domestic violence in his family.
“It is unfortunate that a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way in the course of this process,” Shanahan said in response to the revelations.
“I believe my continuing in the confirmation process would force my three children to relive a traumatic chapter in our family’s life and reopen wounds we have worked years to heal.”
President Trump responded by offering words of support for Shanahan.
“Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family,” Trump tweeted on June 18.
“I thank Pat for his outstanding service.”