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Looking Back

It's always interesting to look through back files of your Checkerboard.

In July 1971 Nate Weiss was president and John Hill the editor/secretary. A featured article announced that 99th veteran Maj. Gen. James Baldwin is commander of the Americal Division, which was the world's largest with 25,000 members. The story was forwared to the CB by Chaplain Allyn Wadleigh former regimental S-1 of the 395th on Col. Mackenzie's staff.

"Mr. 99th" Ben Nawrocki won $100 in the 50/50 drawing and donated his prize to the hospitality room. That room was conceived by Jean and Herb Edgecomb and Tony Millilo of Cincinnati. B.T. Driver's daughter, Mary Wynette (who was born while her dad was on Elsenborn Ridge) was named Miss Memphis, Mix Dixie, and her picture was placed on a new B-52 bomber called Memphis Belle II. Rudi Fruehbeisser sent a long article about his former unit, 9th Fallschirmjager Regiment. Rudi and his friends captured the I&R/394 platoon. Many letters were published, some from the following: Jim Bowers, Harald Heisterkamp of Cologne, West Germany, Mac Goldfinch, Henry Richards, James Fennie, Chuck Lugton, Lloyd Teekell, Anthony Battista, Ike Bivings, Long John Reid, J.W. Johnson, Leroy Higgins, Robert Wright, Col. A.J. Mackenzie, Bill Tumblin, Frank Yanish, Lee Wilhelm, and many others.

The January 1966 found Herb Edgecomb as president and Long John Reid as editor, secretary-treasurer. Harry Crossey was a vice president. Hank Richards was organizing a trip to Europe. Curtis Amuedo wrote from Colorado and Bob Newbrough from Iowa. Harry Crossey of the Sherman House in Chicago was searching for other medics. John Cassasa of S/371 was living in Highland IN.

The August 1966 issue contained greetings from Gen. Walter Lauer. He was not physically able to be present, but sent a message to the annual reunion. He said Eisenhower and others were not correctly and fully informed "of the extraordinary action performed by the 99th on the North Shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge." He said the 99th men are the heroes of that surprise attack. Medal of Honor recipient Vernon McGarity wrote to say he could not attend the annual reunion because he would be on active duty with the National Guard.

The November 1969 issue featured photos of El Hill and Allyn Wadleigh on page one. El was president and Wadleigh the chaplain. Joe Johnson's photo was on the back page, he was secretary.

The March 1965 issue, with John W. Reid as secretary/editor carried an article by Bill Meyer, S/371, who said he enjoys the Checkerboard and "especially the last one that concerned the 20th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge." Meyer also said he enjoyed the NBC documentary which was a "masterful job and showed the world what a really great outfit the Battle Babies really were." Long John Reid said Meyer, a newspaper editor in Kansas, told Reid to "Keep the Checkerboard coming. It's appreciated." (Little did he realize what the future held).

More or less?

How times have changed. A quick look at the roster issue of April 1972 shows there were 1,900 on the mailing list. About a third of them paid the $4 annual dues. Today there are 2,500 on the mailing list and virtually all pay the $10 annual dues.

There are more members, today, but fewer potential members. And the $10 today is much smaller than the $4 of 1972.

So, are we bigger or smaller?

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