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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 365-96
June 18, 1996

THE PENTAGON HONORS TWO MILLIONTH VISITOR

Secretary of Defense William J. Perry today welcomed nine- year-old William Huynh, the two millionth person taking the Pentagon's public tour since the program began as part of the nation's Bicentennial celebration in 1976.

The fourth grader from Lunenburg, Mass. signed up for a public tour this morning at 9:55 with his mother, Phuc Nguyen. Instead of the regular tour, however, the two were whisked away and William was recognized as the two millionth visitor at a ceremony during which he was presented with a U. S. flag that has flown over the Pentagon. The flag presentation was made by Mayor of the Pentagon David O. Cooke, who is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the world's largest office building that employs more than 24,000 people under a single roof.

Other mementos awarded included a set of special coins representing each of the military services. The coins, which are engraved on both sides, are usually presented as a reward for outstanding performance. William, whose main hobby is collecting bugs, also received a certificate signed by Secretary Perry proclaiming him as the official two millionth visitor. Tour director Air Force Senior Master Sergeant William Maniece also presented an over-sized Pentagon T-shirt to the Thomas Pasios Elementary School student.

Expressing surprise as the person reaching the Pentagon milestone, William said, This is really cool. I can't wait to tell all my friends. Following the ceremony, he was given a VIP tour conducted by Pentagon Tour Guide of the Month Air Force Airman Dawn Smith of Petaluma, Calif. William's tour included a stop not on the regular route: he was escorted inside the inner office of the Secretary of Defense where he was personally greeted by Perry. The Secretary showed William models of ships, planes, and various military memorabilia displayed in his office. Perry also presented William with a pocket utility knife containing the seal of the Secretary.

The Pentagon Tours Program, which saw its one millionth visitor on July 10, 1987, has grown to one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the Washington, D. C. area. Originally planned to begin every 15 minutes and to last about a half-hour, the tours today start every 30 minutes beginning at 9:30 a.m. and run for about an hour and a half, Monday through Friday, except for holidays.

In addition to the regular public tours, the Pentagon Tours Program accommodates special groups and visiting dignitaries. The program also provides abbreviated tours to service a larger number of tourists and a variety of needs. About 500 persons a day take the public tour.

Public tours travel through approximately 20 hallways in the Pentagon. They include the main concourse, executive corridors, the Military Women's Corridor, and the famous Hall of Heroes, which contains the names of all the Medal of Honor recipients.

Tour guides, who walk backwards throughout the tour, are chosen from each of the five military branches' Presidential Honor Guards. They are selected for their superior job performance, appearance in uniform, communication skills, and strict military discipline.

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