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 President's Corner

Published in the January 2004 Ragged Irregular

It is 14 Dec 03 as I write this and it is indeed a memorable date (almost) for a number of reasons. First, this was the day 100 years ago when the Wright Brothers (almost) made their first flight. Older brother Wilbur was at the controls in Kitty Hawk, NC, as the result of a coin toss. But the "airplane" reared when he applied full throttle, fell back and busted a couple of things. Wilbur rushed back to Dayton, OH, fabricated new parts and returned in time for Orville to catch the winds just right three days later. Second, we woke this morning to the good news that Saddam Hussein had been captured in a "spider hole" near Tikrit (even though it was only almost on the 14th. Third, 80 years ago today a little boy was born in Kansas City, KS, and named Edward; OK, so nobody but me and a few of my kids consider that very memorable. Until I think of something, let's review the past 3 months in the life of the 91st.

Your Board held our quarterly Conference Call on 8 Nov 03 with only Phil Mack unable to participate. We applauded the gradual increase of the Memorial Maintenance Fund to over $3190; all sales of the litho "Ruhr Valley Raiders" done for the Tacoma Reunion go into that fund as do appropriate gifts to the Fund. We also applauded Marv Goldberg's up-to-date handling of the PX; it is adding to our resources. By the way, we only have a dozen copies of the Memoirs of the 91st Bomb Group and a couple of dozen of the calendars left; neither are likely to e available for reprint. Turner has notified us that they sold 344 of the books for which we will receive a royalty for the Maintenance Fund.

Following up on our discussions at the last two Conference Calls, Jake Howland feels that he is getting closer to a definitive resolution of many of the discrepancies in our records for our "Honor Roll" of deaths. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bud Evers who did all of the basic research in the mid-1980's. "Curly" Havelaar's book, The Ragged Irregulars of Bassingbourn, which gave us the only real history of the 91st, relied heavily on Bud's work. I contributed no original research for the Memoirs of the 91st BG but did try to correlate the discrepancies from Bud's earlier data, some changes in Curly's book and the data Jake was reporting from the graveyard memorials. Until we have Jake's final figures, it seems best to use 886 total KIA/MIA and other deaths; since there were nearly 100 in the latter category, we hope people will be careful to correctly state that there were about 800 "combat-related" deaths. Hopefully, by next year, Jake will have an even more accurate figure for us.

Some urgency for these accurate numbers was increased by the recent contacts from the Base Commander at Minot AFB, ND, who has expressed a strong interest in our history since his is the successor organization. The contact came about thru the excellent work of Mike Banta's "Ring." We cannot say enough about the credit that is brought to the 91st by the contributions to The Ragged Irregular (thanks, Steve), Jim Sheppard's web site and Banta's "Ring." They are wonderfully complimentary and give us great coverage.

While we do not plan to open our own museum - and hope that our dedicated volunteers in England can get The Tower Museum open in the spring - we are exploring possibilities of putting some of our pool of historical materials in a research facility open to the public. A recent note that Steve Perri ran about providing copies of The Ragged Irregular brought requests from the 8th Air Force. Jim Sheppard has provided us with a list of the increasing collection of items of the 91st in the Chino (CA) Museum and we hope to meet with them next year on future cooperation.

I have asked Ace, Jake Howland and Paul Limm to work with me to prepare a policy paper for future contacts with the overseas memorials.

All of them are knowledgeable on various aspects and Jake has been tremendously helpful in coordinating our Memorial Day and other participations abroad. We need to regularize a way that it can be carried on in the future. We will incorporate it in some proposed changes to the By Laws that we will be putting out in April.

I have asked Joe Harlick to lead our Nominations Committee. He will be publicizing that in the April issue.

As for the Reunion 2004 plans, I will be mailing data on 5 hotels in the Crystal City/Arlington Virginia area, to W. W. Hill who will be our Reunion Chairman. He will personally look at them, make his recommendations and then I will sign the contract (hopefully by mid-Jan). The cost will be about $98/day including tax; most have free parking; we plan to only block 80 rooms because we have a penalty clause at all of them if we fail to fill 90% or so of our block. So start making your plans.

Finally, what really made the 14th of December such a memorable day - and not almost - was that Joan and I had lunch today with Joe and Jenny Harlick who drove over from Ocean Shores. At our age what can be more memorable than good fellowship with good friends? To all of you, on behalf of your Board, we hope you had a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and are enjoying a Happy New Year.    Ed