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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c h a p t e r t w e n t y - s e v e n ........................................................... where’s the pentagon? We arrived in Washington on a cold, blustery day in March. I found a building that was marked war and navy department building, and with my orders in my hand, I strode in the door to report for duty. I saw nothing but Navy uniforms around, and everybody looked at me kind of funny. When I showed them my orders, I was quickly told that this building was only a Navy Annex now and that I needed to go to the Pentagon building. I asked where that was, and I was told, ‘‘Across the river, in Virginia.’’ I went back out to the car to give Lee the news, and we set off, in the snow, to look for the Pentagon. It was a new building, reported to be the world’s largest office building, and while it was still under construction, the War Department—and to some extent, the Navy Department—was already moving in. It wasn’t shown on our map, but Lee and I were sure we could find it. Those of you who have been there know that the Pentagon is surrounded by a maze of highways, off-ramps, on-ramps, traffic circles, overpasses , underpasses, and blind alleys. And none of this was yet on any map. We crossed the Potomac River on the 14th Street Bridge and could see the Pentagon looming large and white through the snow, up ahead of us. Now that we had it located, the next problem was figuring out how to get there. Every time we found a road that seemed to be leading toward the Pentagon , it would suddenly make a big sweeping turn and dump us on a highway leading away from the Pentagon, and we’d have to drive for miles before we could get turned around. We made several tries with similar results. We finally decided that we’d try taking a road that seemed to lead away from the Pentagon and see what happened. We tried it, and it worked. Our road took a big loop, doubled back under itself, and dumped us in a big parking lot in the shadow of the big building. We parked and sat there in the snow and wondered what to do next. Now that we had located that darn Pentagon and found out how to get to it, the next thing PAGE 131 ................. 17575$ CH27 10-14-09 12:24:46 PS was to figure out how to get into it. We decided that in Washington, nothing was going to be easy. I told Lee to sit tight. There was a heater in the car, and she had a book to read. I told her that I shouldn’t be gone too long, and I set off trudging through the snow. I figured that if I started walking around the building, I’d eventually come to a door. I started out counterclockwise and had walked the length of three sides before I found a place where the buses were going in. I followed them, climbed some stairs, and found myself in a sort of indoor mall. I found some ramps and took them and walked forever before I found the Office of the Air Adjutant General. I showed some guy my orders and told him I’d like to have at least a week’s leave to find a place to live and get squared away. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘‘Major, there’s a war on, you know. Here’s your assignment, and here’s the room number where you are to report. You have two days.’’ I said, ‘‘Fine. Now, how do I get out of this building?’’ He gave me instructions, but it was a different door from the one I had used coming in. I had no idea where the car was, so I picked clockwise this time and eventually found it. Lee had almost given up on me, asking, ‘‘What happened?’’ I told her that I had gotten lost, and we had two days to find a place to live. She said, ‘‘What!’’ I said, ‘‘Welcome to Washington,’’ and gave her a kiss. Lee’s letter to Mom and Dad, March 3, 1943 Arrived in the capital this a.m. Hit a snow storm about 12 miles out. A thrilling sight for us, but golly...


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