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New organization 'tests the waters'

Meeting draws mixed comments from audience

About 30 people attended an informational meeting about a new organization of friends and family of the 99th during the 60th annual convention at St. Louis MO.

Associate member George Bissette served as moderator for the meeting. He began by saying he knew the 99th Infantry Division Association was discussing its demise. He said the purpose of the meeting was to find out if there was any interest in pursuing the organization of a group to perpetuate the memory of the 99th.

“Do you care enough to want to organize a support group?” he asked the audience. “Do we want to continue? Do we want a relationship?”

Harry McCracken said there already was a group. The Associates of the 99th is open to anyone, including World War II veterans and retired officers.

He went on to say the organization had been responsible for building cabinets to house artifacts at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Pittsburgh PA, and had just completed a monument of the 99th shield at the museum. The organization also is instrumental in getting generals to attend the 99th conventions.

The group has a broad membership and an annual banquet. The organization is based in Pittsburgh PA, and sends out a newsletter. People pay dues.

The option of joining this group was discussed.

Other organizations discussed included Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, which offers associate memberships. The VFW and American Legion also are looking for members.

“This new organization can be anything,” Bissette said. “This meeting is very preliminary. We’re not interested in diluting the already-formed organization. We just want to perpetuate the memories. We don’t want the association’s resources,” he concluded.

“How do you get enough members to be financially stable?” Harry Clifton, association auditor, asked.

After more than an hour of discussion with no clear objectives, Bissette agreed to establish a network of interested people for further discussion of the organization.

Additional information will be provided in the Checkerboard as it becomes available.

Last modified Feb. 12, 2010

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