Ceremony marks closing of Walter Reed hospital

Posted July 27, 2011, at 8:58 p.m.
Last modified July 27, 2011, at 9:15 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Maj. Walter Reed’s sword was symbolically handed over to the Navy at a ceremony Wednesday marking the closure of the Army hospital bearing his name, where hundreds of thousands of the nation’s war wounded have been treated for more than a century.

The tone was somber at times, but mostly celebratory, as more than a thousand former and current staff members and patients — some of them wounded troops from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in wheelchairs who have lost limbs — gathered under a white tent to say goodbye to the Army’s flagship hospital.

The Army band played, paratroopers jumped out of a plane, and flags representing various units on the hospital grounds were symbolically cased in black.

The hospital opened in 1909 and has a storied history of care to military members, their families and presidents. President Dwight Eisenhower died there, as did Gens. John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur. But in 2007, that reputation was scarred by a scandal about substandard living conditions on its grounds for wounded troops in outpatient care that led to improvements in care for the wounded throughout the military. No mention was made at the ceremony about the scandal.

Recently, more than 18,000 troops from the current wars have gone there for treatment.

NY pilot rescued after night in frigid Lake Huron

HARBOR BEACH, Mich. — A New York pilot whose small plane crashed and flipped in Lake Huron was rescued Wednesday off Michigan’s eastern coast after swimming and treading water without a life jacket for more than 17 hours, authorities said.

Michael Trapp, 42, of Gouverneur, N.Y., was picked up by a fishing boat and taken to Harbor Beach, Mich., Police Chief Sid Schock said. The U.S. Coast Guard described his condition as good.

Trapp told authorities his plane crashed 17 miles east of Harbor Beach, and he swam 15 miles toward shore before the rescue, the Coast Guard said.

“He ate a couple of bananas and spent the night in the water. He’s quite chilled,” Schock said. “I can’t tell you how he’s going to do long term but he was talking in the ambulance.”

Trapp was the only person aboard the two-seat Cessna on a flight to Eau Claire, Wis., from New York.

Study: Earth shares its orbit with tiny asteroid

NEW YORK — Like a poodle on a leash, a tiny asteroid runs ahead of Earth on the planet’s yearlong strolls around the sun, scientists report.

The discovery of this companion, which measures only about 300 yards across, makes Earth the fourth planet in the solar system that’s known to share its orbit with an asteroid.

Imagine Earth and the asteroid traveling around a clock face, with the sun in the middle. Generally, the asteroid runs about two numbers ahead.

However, the asteroid sometimes ranges so far ahead that it’s on the opposite side of the sun from Earth, said Martin Connors of Canada’s Athabasca University in Alberta. He reports the work with colleagues in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

Asteroids are giant space rocks that orbit the sun, and ones that share an orbit with a planet are called Trojans. Scientists had previously found a few for Mars and Neptune and nearly 5,000 fo r Jupiter.

Kandahar mayor killed in latest setback for Afghan security

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ghulam Haider Hamidi, the mayor of Kandahar, Aghanistan’s second-largest city, was killed Wednesday in his heavily guarded compound when a man detonated explosives hidden in his turban as Hamidi accepted petitions from tribal elders. At least one other person died, in addition to the bomber.

Hamidi, 65, who was a U.S. citizen, is the third senior official from southern Afghanistan to be killed in less than a month.

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