- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 27, 2004

Many of the young adults, military veterans and former USO girls lending a hand during this weekend’s events on the Mall say patriotism and their love of the World War II generation is driving their efforts.

“I think this is an extremely brave and courageous generation, and I’m excited to speak with these veterans who had experiences I can’t even comprehend,” said Kristin M. Keating, 20, a University of Maryland student.

Miss Keating spent yesterday as an honorary USO girl, wearing an armband as she handed out bottled water and recorded the veterans as they described their favorite USO moments.

More than 800,000 visitors — many of them veterans — are expected to take part in events related to the dedication of the National World War II Memorial on the Mall this weekend.

“I’m here to support the boys and bring back some memories for them,” said Donald L. Rollette Sr. , 73, a retiree who served as a Marine corporal in Korea. “Marines are a tight-knit family. We look out for each other.”

Mr. Rollette is exhibiting a 1945 jeep and other Marine Corps memorabilia. A small paddle adorning his jeep bears this inscription from the chaplain of the 2nd Raider Battalion: “We were comrades in life and comrades in death.”

Meanwhile, Brad Winchester, a Department of Veterans Affairs television producer and former commando, said he cannot be objective while recording interviews for an upcoming TV documentary.

“I’ve got a ton of personal questions,” Mr. Winchester, 52, said. “This guy I just talked to was a parachute jumper with the 508. He was right there in the middle of it.”

Tickets for the 120,000 seats for tomorrow’s dedication ceremony have sold out, Smithsonian Institution officials said yesterday.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Events at the nearby World War II Reunion, on the Mall between Third and Seventh streets NW, are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The two seminars beginning at 4 p.m. tomorrow are “Stories of Service” and “The War in the Air.” At 5 p.m., Dr. Sam Billison, formerly of the 5th Marine Division’s Reconnaissance Company, will give a talk called “Navajo Code Talker.”

“Radio on the Homefront,” a panel discussion featuring former U.S. Navy Radio and StageDoor Canteen personality Marjorie Hadlock and “Reveille Girl” Jean R. Hay will get under way at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow. Events at 6 p.m. will include a Young Marines program on “Military Marching and Physical Training” for families and a performance by the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra.

Reunion activities will conclude Sunday with more panel discussions, musical performances and family events.

Celebrity speakers will be featured all day Sunday at the “Wartime Stories” tent. An 11:30 a.m. panel on “The Internment of Japanese Americans in Wyoming” will feature Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, Wyoming Republican. At 1 p.m., actors Ernest Borgnine and Jack Palance will discuss “World War II Veterans as Film Performers.”

Baseball players Bob Feller and Monte Irvin will talk about “World War II Veterans as Baseball Players” at 2:30 p.m.; Nuremburg interrogator John Dolibois will headline a “U.S. Army and the Holocaust” discussion at 4 p.m.; and William McNamara, David Richardson and Tony Vaccaro are the “War Correspondents and Journalists” featured at 5:30 p.m.

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