Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which is slated to be closed [front page, Aug. 26], is a landmark. I remember at age 3 going there with my grandfather, a retired Judge Advocate General's Corps lawyer, to deliver papers to Gen. John J. Pershing.

On the ride over, my grandfather reminded me often of the protocol. I was to curtsy, say hello and sit down. The introductions went well. I curtsied, but I didn't sit in a chair. The general swept me onto his lap, where I stayed until the visit was over.

I also will never forget going to Walter Reed when I was in high school during World War II. A friend and I had volunteered to wheel wounded soldiers onto the lawn for a USO show. I saw Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable and Bob Hope, greeting these heroes as they sweltered in our summer heat.



Some 15 years ago, when I was stationed with the U.S. Army in Korea, my wife suffered a stroke at her job near Fort Meade. She was rushed to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and a Red Cross message was sent to my unit stating that she was expected to die that night.

My only comfort while I made arrangements to fly back to the United States was knowing that my wife was receiving the best medical care the Army had available. Thanks to the efforts and skills of Walter Reed's emergency room staff, my wife made a complete recovery from her stroke.

Over the many decades of Walter Reed's existence, its staff has averted similar tragedies for tens of thousands of servicemembers and their families. To all who have served at Walter Reed -- past, present and future -- I say, "Thank you for a job well done!"