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Board of directors meets in Pittsburgh

August 3, 2005

Imperial Palace, Biloxi MS

The board of directors of the 99th Infantry Division Association met Aug. 3, 2005, during the 55th annual convention at the Imperial Palace Hotel, Biloxi MS.

Those attending were president Bob Hawn, vice president Glenn Bronson, past president and archives chairman Harry McCracken, treasurer J.R. McIlroy, Checkerboard editor Bill Meyer, sergeant at arms Del Stumpff, chaplain Joe Johnson, legal adviser Bob Hogan, board members B.O. Wilkins, George Snell, Walt Gregonis, Wayne Cleveland, and executive director Donna Bernhardt.

Guests included Mike Strollo, John Vasa, and Pat Hughes.

Treasurer J.R. McIlroy gave the treasurer's report, stating the organization had $78,919.42 in checking and $107,469.37 in certificates of deposit.

Executive director Donna Bernhardt presented the membership report, saying there are 2,414 current members including 132 widows, 108 associates, and 85 with no designation. There were 50 new members for the year and 125 members were listed in "Taps."

Bernhardt also gave the report on the Norfolk convention, reporting 480 registered and a profit of $1,700.

Bill Meyer had the site selection report. He introduced Dana Woerner of the Little Rock (AR) convention and visitors bureau, who presented a proposal on Little Rock for the 2006 convention site.

She listed three hotels in Little Rock that would be able to accommodate the 99th. The Doubletree offered a government rate of $72 per night including free parking, airport shuttle, and trolley service.

John Vasa presented a proposal from Rapid City SD. He said Rapid City was eager to host the 99th and the Ramkota Hotel offered a weekend rate of $99 and a rate of $79 during the week. The hotel offers free parking and airport shuttle. Food is reasonably priced.

Vasa said the resort city is small and easy to get around. Several tour opportunities are available including the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Indian reservations, and Wall Drug Store.

Bob Hogan moved and B.O. Wilkins seconded a motion for the site selection committee to review the proposals before sending a recommendation to the new board of directors.

McIlroy presented the planning committee report.

The committee met to discuss the future of the association and conventions. It is apparent the association will lose money in the future, due to decline and attrition in membership and fees, decline in convention attendance, and an increase in regular expenses.

The committee will continue to monitor the association's financial reports for the next few years until a time when the impact on the fiscal stability of the association can be determined.

(Since the date of the convention the Executive Committee has conferred with the chairman of the planning committee and it appears the planning committee does not have sufficient data at this time to make any recommendations to the board. It probably will require further review of the situation, not less than two years from now.)

It was suggested Bernhardt contract for wheelchairs for next year's convention in San Antonio.

New business

Glenn Bronson reported he has become involved in a World War II dedication veterans history project with the Library of Congress. The purpose of the program is for veterans to give oral reports of experiences. Wayne Cleveland said he also was involved in a similar project in Missouri through the American Legion and urged all members to get involved in some sort of oral history project to preserve the history of the 99th.

Pat Hughes reported the military history detachment has switched to all digital technology for interviews.

Bronson said he had invited the Marcel and Mathilde Schmetz (M&Ms), owners of the Remember Museum in Belgium to attend the convention next year in San Antonio.

Their trip will be paid for through contributions from members.

Bronson also suggested Christian DeMarcken be invited to be the banquet speaker at next year's convention.

Meyer moved that J.R. McIlroy be added as a life member of the association. The motion was seconded by Hogan and unanimously approved.

Meyer moved that the association designate a $5000 expenditure for travel expenses for the Diggers and M&Ms to attend next year's convention. Wilkins seconded the motion and it was approved.

Statue

A professional fund-raiser has been hired by the Association of the 99th Infantry Division to raise funds for the 99th Infantry Division Monument. The company designed informational brochures which will be distributed at the banquet.

The 18-foot tall statue will be the centerpiece of the 99th Infantry Division Monument which will be located at 99th Headquarters in Pittsburgh PA.

The company hopes to raise $600,000 in grants and hopes to have a dedication ceremony on Veterans Day 2005.

J.R. McIlroy was appointed chairman of the nominating committee.

Hughes said work is progressing on the "Dauntless Museum," the official 99th archives museum at 99th Headquarters. The biggest share of the museum is the Dick Byers collection. Displays and new cabinets are being built and Hughes will send articles about the progress of the museum to the Checkerboard for publication.

"Building a collection" is the goal, Hughes said. "I encourage all members to come back and see it."

The board expressed appreciation to retiring board members B.O. Wilkins and Wayne Cleveland.

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