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Membership votes to host final convention in 2011

Saturday, July 24, 9 a.m.
Louisville Marriott Downtown, Louisville KY

The membership meeting of the 99th Infantry Division Association was called to order at 9 a.m. July 24 by President Herb Knapp.

The sergeants-at-arms advanced the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Treasurer J.R. McIlroy reported a balance of $65,000 in the association treasury.

“We’re in good shape financially,” he said. “We’re good for another convention.”

Executive director Donna Bernhardt presented a membership report, saying there are 1,268 current members including 124 widows and 157 associates. There were 12 new members for the year. Sixty members were listed in Taps.

Bernhardt also gave the report for the St. Louis convention. Attendance was down from the previous year with 214 present. She reported a loss of $6,649.

The Louisville convention report showed a total registration of 173, of which approximately 70 were veterans.

In his report to the membership, President Knapp said the past year had been an A+. The association took a giant step forward with the completion of the digitization project.

“The Checkerboard became known worldwide through that project,” Knapp said. All that has been printed in the Checkerboard since 1943 has been digitized and is available on the Internet.

The web site is 99div.newspaperarchive.com.

Knapp said the web site could be used to spread the word about the 99th to organizations, high schools, VFWs, etc., and to share the accomplishments of the organization.

“It’s important to keep telling groups about the 99th,” Knapp said. “Use the web site to advertise the 99th when you’re speaking to groups.”

Knapp urged members to join Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge (VBOB). Information will be shared in the Checkerboard.

McIlroy gave the site selection and planning committee reports. He began by reminding the membership that it had been decided several years ago to quit having reunions when the number of veterans in attendance reached 50. After talking to many members, he said the committee’s recommendation was to have one more convention in 2011, and to hold that convention in Kansas City.

“We will continue the association and continue publishing the Checkerboard,” he said.

Herm Saunders said everyone needed to help get the word out about the last convention. The event should be publicized in VFW, American Legion and DAV magazines, as well as other newspapers and magazines.

The membership approved the decision to host the final convention in 2011 in Kansas City.

Stephen Harlan, Command Historian for the 99th Regional Support Command, was introduced as Bruce Kish’s replacement as coordinator of the War Room.

Harlan told the membership the expansion of the Army Reserve Museum at Fort Dix NJ, began last summer to house artifacts that came from Coraopolis. The expansion will preserve the artifacts that have been donated and allow for more display space to tell the 99th story.

Archives Chairman Harry McCracken told members to send archives contributions and artifacts directly to Harlan at Fort Dix.

Harlan said the Army’s mission was to educate young solders at Fort Dix on the history of the 99th. He presented to the board of directors with a history of the move to Fort Dix. Photos of the expansion were on view in the War Room.

Nick Gianopolous said artifacts also could be sent to Carlisle Barracks.

Harlan said a 99th database had been established with the ability to borrow and trade artifacts and stories.

“We are dedicated to the continuation of the 99th story,” Harlan concluded.

Saunders said now is a good time for members to record their war stories. He said it’s important to preserve the histories.

“Many colleges have oral history projects,” Harlan said. “Continue to use these outlets to get your stories told.”

McCracken said soldiers used to come to the conventions to record the veterans’ stories.

Harlan reassured the group those stories and tapes had been passed forward.

He said that project wasn’t feasible this year because too many of the military history detachments were deployed or on alert.

“They are busy recording the history of what is currently happening,” Harlan said.

He also told members that the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning GA, was well worth a visit.

Knapp thanked McCracken for his hard work and welcomed Harlan as the new historian.

McIlroy gave the nominating committee report. The slate of officers included B.O. Wilkins, president; Phil Benefiel, vice president; McIlroy, treasurer; and Hal Etter and Norman Zuckerman, three-year terms on the board of directors. The nominations were approved by acclamation.

All Van Dorn veterans, then ASTP’ers were asked to stand and be recognized.

A motion was made by Glenn Bronson “that the 99th Infantry Division Association send a letter to Archivist Don Mehus expressing our appreciation and thanks for all the effort and work he did for more than 30 years – first working to get all the Checkerboards put on microfilm and as technology advanced, having them digitized so all the world can have access to the stories of the 99th Battle Babies.”

The motion was approved.

Knapp handed out CDs of the Army band.

In closing, he challenged members to work to get the biggest turnout for next year.

“We need to pull out all the stops – spare no expense.”

The colors were retired and the meeting was adjourned.

New board meets

The new board of directors met immediately following the membership meeting.

New members Hal Etter and Norm Zuckerman were introduced.

Wilkins said the letter of appreciation to Don Mehus would incorporate Glenn Bronson’s motion.

Donna Bernhardt was directed to publicize the final convention in the Kansas City newspapers.

He made the following appointments: Phil Benefiel, legal adviser; Harry Clifton, auditor; Arnold Taylor, chaplain; and Jesse Coulter, sergeant-at-arms.

The meeting was adjourned.

Last modified Oct. 21, 2010

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