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Pentagon Employees Cheer Wounded Troops

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2004 – About 40 wounded service members being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here received cheers and applause today as they arrived at the Pentagon for a special guided tour.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Reserve Sgt. Paul Shelmerdine from Warren, Maine, followed by about 40 other wounded troops being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, is greeted cheering service members and government civilians July 30 at the start of a tour of the Pentagon. Tour guide Army Spc. Kevin Smith accompanies Shelmerdine, a transportation soldier who was wounded July 13 during convoy duty in Iraq. Photo by Gerry G. Gilmore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"We just want them to feel as welcome as possible, we don't want anyone to get in their way," Benson explained, noting the soldiers' Pentagon tour would likely take between 45 minutes and an hour.

The wounded service members, Benson noted, need to be treated "with honor, respect and dignity, like the war heroes they are."

Hundreds of service members and civilians lined both sides the hallway of Corridor 3 awaiting the wounded troops' arrival at the building's South Parking entrance. Senior Army leaders waiting to welcome the troops included Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody.

Cheers erupted as wounded Army Reserve Sgt. Paul Shelmerdine - the first to arrive made his way down the corridor via wheelchair.

Shelmerdine, who hails from Warren, Maine, said the cheering and applause he and the other wounded service members received today at the Pentagon "was kind of overwhelming."

A transportation noncommissioned officer who was wounded by an improvised explosive device July 13 in Iraq, Shelmerdine noted, "It's good to know people care and appreciate you."

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