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Saturday ceremony will honor 32 Marines

The annual memorial service honoring the 32 Marines who died on Mount Rainier more than 60 years ago is planned for noon Saturday.

The event, hosted by Mount Rainier Detachment 989 of the Marine Corps League, will take place at Veterans Memorial Park.

The Marines died Dec. 10, 1946, when their military airplane slammed into the face of Mount Rainier while making a journey from California to Seattle. They were part of a group of six military aircraft. Due to inclement weather, four pilots abandoned their plans and returned to California; one plane made it safely to Seattle.

Saturday’s ceremony will include a welcome by Commandant James McClean of the local detachment and the reading of a proclamation by Mayor Liz Reynolds. An invocation will be offered by Chaplain Claire FitzGerald of the Department of Washington Marine Corps League; the Marine Security Force out of the naval station in Bangor, Wash., will post the national colors; and Brooklynn Adams, Miss Thurston County 2009, will perform the national anthem.

The keynote speaker will be Lt. Col. Jay Rodne, a member of the Marine Corps Reserves and elected member of the Washington State Legislature.

Saturday’s program also will feature the reading of the poem “32 Marines” by co-author Bruce Bartling, a past commandant of the local detachment; “Amazing Grace,” performed by the Scottish American Military Society; and a rifle salute performed by the Marine Security Force from Bangor.

The most solemn part of each year’s ceremony comes with the tolling of a bell, the reading of the names of the 32 lost Marines and the laying of roses in front of the ceremonial marker.

Killed in the 1946 crash were Lt. Colonel Alben C. Robertson; Maj. Robert V. Reilly; Master Sgt. Charles F. Criswell; Master Sgt. Wallace J. Slonina; and privates Duane R. Abbott, Robert R. Anderson, Joe E. Bainter, Leslie R. Simmons Jr., Harry K. Skinner, Lawrence E. Smith, Buddy E. Snelling, Bobby J. Stafford, William D. St. Clair, Walter J. Stewart, John C. Stone, Albert H. Stubblefield, William R. Sullivan, Chester E. Taube, Harry L. Thompson Jr., Duane S. Thornton, Keith K. Tisch, Eldon D. Todd, Richard P. Trego, Charles W. Truby, Harry R. Turner, Ernesto R. Valdovin, Gene L. Vremsak, William E. Wadden, Donald J. Walker, Gilbert E. Watkins, Duane E. White and Louis A. Whitten.

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