Montgomery to Honor WW II Vets
Boris Osheroff, who worked on Manhattan Project; U.S. Army Vets Alyce Dixon, Age 105, and George Boggess, Age 100, Among 150 Vets to Attend as Montgomery County Honors World War II Veterans on Wed., Sept. 19
Ted Koppel Will Host, Congressman Van Hollen and Lt. Governor Brown Will Be Among Speakers in Silver Spring
Boris Osheroff graduated with honors in chemistry from St. John’s Pharmacy School. When he entered the U.S. Army in 1943, he did not understand why a screening left him assigned to a group in New York City that hardly seemed like a military mission. It turned out he was selected to work on the Manhattan Project, and for much of the war, he was part of the team that developed the first atom bomb.
Mr. Osheroff, who is 90 and has lived in Silver Spring since 1956, will be among more than 150 Montgomery County-area World War II veterans who will be honored at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the Silver Spring Civic Building at Montgomery County Honors World War II Veterans. The event is believed to be the biggest Washington area tribute to World War II veterans since the opening of the National World War II Memorial opened in Washington, D.C., in 2004.
Ted Koppel, who for 25 years hosted the ABC News show Nightline, will be the event’s host and one of the speakers. Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown also will be among the main speakers.
County Executive Isiah Leggett, Council President Roger Berliner and the County Council will lead the special ceremonies at the Civic Building located at One Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring. The event will be simulcast live on many of the County’s public cable television channels that compose the PEG (Public, Education, Government) Network, including County Cable Montgomery, Montgomery Community Media, Montgomery College Television, Montgomery County Public Schools TV and Rockville 11.
In addition, the PEG Network will be recording the stories of many of the veterans for a documentary that will be broadcast on the cable stations.
Montgomery Honors WW II Vets event organizers are still seeking to contact more of the veterans who will be honored on Sept. 19. Those veterans, or family and friends of the veterans, needing more information about the event should call 240-777-7929.
More than 16 million served in the armed forces of the U.S. during World War II and more than 400,000 died between the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the ending of the war in Pacific in August 1945.
Mr. Osheroff said his group was given limited specific information about the overall project as his unit conducted experiments and tests in labs in New York City and Oak Ridge, Tenn., under the direction of Manhattan Project leader Major General Leslie Groves.
“We were not supposed to know what we were working on,” he said this week. “What we did know was that General Groves, in the first speech he made to recruits, said, ‘If we can do it, it will shorten the war.”
Among those who will be attending is Alyce Dixon, who turned 105 on Sept. 11. The still active Ms. Dixon was one of the first employees at the Pentagon from 1940-43, working as a civilian. She entered the Army in 1943 and became one of the first women to join the military as a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).
Also attending will be George Boggess, 100, who served in Europe with General George Patton’s Third Army. He was in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was wounded. Among his military awards were the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. His post-war life included serving with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on three Civil Rights campaigns, including the famed march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.
Mr. Koppel was the anchor of Nightline from the program’s inception in 1980 until his retirement in late 2005. After leaving Nightline, he worked for three years as managing editor for the Discovery Channel and currently is a contributing correspondent to the NBC News primetime newsmagazine Rock Center with Brian Williams.
The son of German Jewish parents who fled Germany due to the rise of the Nazi regime, Mr. Koppel grew up in England. His family moved to the United States when he was 13. He said he had great admiration for the American soldiers he saw as a young boy in England and wanted to be part of the Montgomery Honors World War II Vets program.
“I’ve been waiting 67 years to say thank you,” he said. “I’m thrilled to finally have that opportunity.”
Lt. Governor Brown is a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and is the highest ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq.
“As a state and as a nation, we share a collective responsibility to honor the service of those who have worn our country’s uniform,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Each and every day, we’re learning more about the difficulties that our fighting men and women face, both abroad on the field of battle, and at home. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we continue to support all of our veterans, especially those who, as members of the Greatest Generation, sacrificed so much so that we could have a chance to live freely and peacefully today.”
Congressman Van Hollen, who represents Maryland’s 8th District, is a former professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has a strong background in national security policy. He is active in issues related to U.S. foreign policy.
World War II veterans who have committed to attend the event have been involved in some of the best known aspects of the war, including the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the Battle of Bulge, the Battle for the Remagen Bridge over the Rhine River, the Battle for Iwo Jima and the Battle of the Coral Sea. One veteran served on a destroyer that sank more enemy submarines than any other. Veterans who served in segregated units of all black soldiers and all Japanese-American soldiers also will be attending, as will veterans who played key roles in military intelligence and counter intelligence.
“It has been almost seven decades since our World War II veterans returned home,” said County Executive Leggett. “We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge their courage and patriotism and say thank you for making the world a better place. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I know the sacrifices that are made by members of our military during times of war. This event is a perfect way for all of us to pay tribute to these brave and honorable men and women.”
Speakers will include veterans who served in various aspects of World War II.
“So many in our community heroically served our nation, and the world, 70 years ago,” said Council President Berliner. “September 19 will be a day where our County recognizes those whose actions helped change the course of the world. There have been many books written, and many movies made, about the people we will honor, but on this day, we will personally thank—and hear directly from—some of the men and women who did so much to shape the life and freedom we know today.”