William A. Illingworth II, 60 had come a long way - from Naples. Fla. - to spend Christmas yesterday with relatives in the Washington area.
But as he stood in the winter sunshine near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Illingworth recalled a Christmas much farther away - Christmas 1944, when he was an Army captain leading his 225-member company across the Siegfried Line from France into Germany.
There are now 12 survivors of Illingworth's unit, he said, and Christmas 1978, as he stared out over the rows of markers, was a chance to remember old comrades, although he was not sure whether any of his men are buried there.
"I don't know what motivates a person to come here." he said. "I can't find the right words to express it. I guess we were just kind of drawn here."
Nearby Helen Close of Washington came with her two children for an obligation she has met regularly for 22 years-to lay a wreath and say a prayer at the graves of her brother-in-law and her nephew, thanking God "we're alive and he's taking care of us good."
And for Dan Moore, 23, an infantryman from Roanoke Rapids, N.C. who did ceremonial guard duty at the Tomb yesterday. Christmas was a time to wish the following things: that his eyes wouldn't water in the gusty winds: that his hat would not blow off: that he would not "scratch, or twitch, or burp or cough of sneeze," that teen-agers would not snicker at him as they sometime do during the hourly guard change and that he could be somewhere else, preferably "somewhere warm."
"Of course, no one enjoys working Christmas," he said yesterday as he slung his M14 rifle over his shoulder and prepared to go on duty. "It's cold and you've got people hassling you...They think you're crazy for being out there in the cold and you think they're crazy for watching you in the cold. You get real irritated sometimes."
Between one-hour stints, Moore and four or five others gathered in a small room nearby for warmth. Yesterday they watched a televised football game before re-emerging to change the guard and resume their measured pacing-21 steps up, 21 back, accomplished in 21 seconds.
Not only Illingworth, but his son, William A. Illingworth III, of Silver Spring and his 14-month-old son, William A. Illingworth IV, watched Moore perform sentry duty.
Just eight years ago, on Dec. 3, 1970, Illingworth III, 31, then a platoon leader in Vietnam, stepped on a land mine near Quang Gnai City and was hit by 26 pieces of exploding shrapnel.
"I know I know men from Vietnam who are here now; I'm sure I do.I just don't know where they are," said Illingworth, now an Army anesthesiologist at Walter Reed Hospital.
Ruth Storch, accompanied by her son Rick, came back to Arlington yesterday, too, after an eight-year absence, but not to see relatives' graves or reminisce about past wars.
"We didn't know them, but we came to see the graves of John and Robert Kennedy," the Stamford, Comm., woman said after visiting the hillside gravesites. "They were such an important part of our history. I just feel we owe it to them to come and visit them once in a while. I'm sorry it has been almost eight years since we were here." CAPTION: Picture 1, 2, Jill Moscowitz (left backround) plays the guitar and sings at a Hanukah Celebration at the Jewish Community yesterday. At right, Spec. 4 Larry Leonard stands a tour of duty at Tomb of the Unknown soldier. Photos by Gerald Martineau-The Washington Post