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Record Trip May Be in the Bag

July 18, 1986|ANN HEROLD

--With a splash of Champagne at the exclusive Explorers Club in New York, millionaire Malcolm Forbes christened a Space Age balloon that explorers said could be the first to travel around the world. The balloon gondola, a pressurized six-foot-high capsule, will carry British balloonist Julian Nott, 41, and an unnamed co-pilot in the fifth attempt to balloon around the world. If successful, the trip will take 18 days at an altitude of between 38,000 to 40,000 feet above Earth, where the temperature will be an estimated 60 degrees below zero. Balloon enthusiast Forbes said new materials such as Mylar and Kevlar have made it possible to build balloons and pressurized gondolas that can fly high above Earth's fickle weather for extended periods. "I wish I were going, too," said Forbes, who made an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Atlantic in the mid-1970s in a balloon that cost him more than $1 million. "Unfortunately, all the companies that carry vast amounts of insurance have told me I cannot fly over vast areas in balloons," he said.

--Veterans of the 4th Armored Division, the spearhead of the American troops who helped defeat Nazi Germany, say they think of themselves as ordinary people, not heroes. "We're glad to be alive 40 years later. We never expected to," said Joseph Kmetz, 67, who is gathering with his war buddies for the division's 40th reunion in King of Prussia, Pa. "This baloney of war with pearl-handled pistols, creases in the pants and Rambo-style heroism is a myth. We were ordinary people who would rather be anywhere else in the whole world," said Kmetz, a staff sergeant with the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion. About 750 combat veterans are expected to swap war stories and renew friendships in the largest gathering since the first reunion in 1946 drew about 1,500 men in New York City. The 4th Armored was known for its swiftness and daring as the lead element of Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army.

--Robert S. McNamara, secretary of defense under President John F. Kennedy, informed Caroline Kennedy that he will miss her wedding Saturday because of a "personal emergency" on the West Coast. McNamara, former president of the World Bank, said from Centerville, Mass., that he was "very disappointed" that he will miss Kennedy's wedding to Edwin Arthur Schlossberg on Cape Cod and a reunion with other former Kennedy Cabinet members. McNamara said that, contrary to news reports that he would be unable to attend the wedding because of a "corporate emergency," his business on the West Coast was personal.

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