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
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.