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Annual Marine memorial ceremony begins at noon Saturday

The annual memorial service honoring military men who died on Mount Rainier more than six decades ago will take place Saturday.

The 90-minute event, hosted by Mount Rainier Detachment 504 of the Marine Corps League, is scheduled to begin at noon at Veterans Memorial Park.

Thirty-two 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; the other remains entombed on the mountain.

Saturday's ceremony will include a welcome by Commandant Dante Pugh of the Pierce County Detachment of the Marine Corps League. An invocation will be offered by Chaplain Charles Pringle of the local detachment; the Marine Security Force out of the naval station in Bangor, Wash., will post the national colors and the keynote speaker will be Lt. Col. Jay Rodne, a member of the Marine Corps Reserves and a member of the Washington State Legislature.

Saturday's program also will feature the reading of the poem "32 Marines" by Ed Falter, immediate past commandant of the Department of Washington, Marine Corps League 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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