FALMOUTH — Falmouth native David P. Pearce has spent much of his life traveling the globe, first as a foreign correspondent for news agencies and then for decades as a career diplomat for the State Department.

On Tuesday evening, Pearce, a former U.S. ambassador to Greece and Algeria, returned to his hometown, speaking publicly for the first time since he retired from the United States Foreign Service about his experiences and about the importance of America remaining engaged with its allies and the rest of the world.

David P. Pearce spoke to the World Affairs Council of Maine Tuesday about his time in the Foreign Service. Staff photo by Dennis Hoey

Pearce, who answered questions after his presentation before the World Affairs Council of Maine, was guarded in his remarks about U.S. standing in the world given President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and his questionable support for the NATO alliance.

“It’s not a great sign, but we should wait to see what happens,” Pearce said, referring to the decision on the climate agreement.

Pearce said he believes it would not benefit America if the Trump administration were to withdraw its support for NATO.

“NATO is a big deal for the world,” he added. “But these are still early days and we should not rush to judgment just yet.”

In introducing Pearce to members of the World Affairs Council, Portland lawyer Harold C. Pachios was quick to point out that the former diplomat was not a publicity seeker. Pearce was the guest speaker at the council’s annual meeting at the Portland Country Club.

“He’s a quiet guy who has had an incredible career,” Pachios said.

Pearce was born in Portland, grew up in Falmouth and graduated from Cheverus High School in Portland. He graduated in 1972 from Bowdoin College in Brunswick and went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Ohio State University.

“He graduated from Bowdoin and decided he wanted to be a journalist,” Pachios told the audience. “He wanted to be where the action was.”

In the mid-70s Pearce was assigned to work for The Associated Press in Rome and for United Press International in Brussels, Lisbon and Beirut. After working as a reporter overseas, Pearce went to work for The Washington Post, serving as a copy editor on the foreign and metro desks.

As a journalist, he barely survived a mortar attack by militia in Lebanon and as a diplomat in Algeria his life was threatened by al-Qaida. He flew into New York City on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks. Pachios said chaos seemed to follow Pearce wherever he went.

“Donald Trump was elected shortly after David came back last year” from Greece, Pachios said. “Some of us were not surprised at the upheaval that occurred after David came back to the United States.”

Pearce served as ambassador to Greece from 2013 to 2016 following his appointment by President Barack Obama. Earlier, President George W. Bush named him U.S. ambassador to Algeria, a post he held from 2008 to 2011. He served as assistant chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2011 to 2012.

Pearce retired from the Foreign Service in September and now lives in Yarmouth.

“I really feel lucky that I grew up in Maine,” Pearce told the audience. “Everywhere I went, I took Maine with me. I’ve had, for better or worse, a front row seat to some of the most significant events of our time.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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