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 President's Corner

Published in the July 2009 Ragged Irregular

I am pleased to announce that the web page is growing in size with new crew photos, Scrapbook of Memories and B-17 Photo History. We are 25 percent complete with a list of Folded Wings which will be a great benefit for research. Since my back surgery, my physical condition is improving daily. As many of you know our Ring Leader, Mike Banta, had back surgery last year and then had a hip replacement.

Suzi & I visited Jack & Jan Gaffney and his wife and he gave me his complete set of Ragged Irregulars that will be donated to the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino California. The Museum has plans to build a research library.  Later this year, we plan to add the R.I.'s to the web page, starting with the first reunion in October 1967 that was in Memphis with a Re-dedication ceremony for the Memphis Belle. Some of the attendees were: George Birdsong, Paul Chryst, Jack Gaffney, Joe Franke, Joe Harlick, George Parks, Joe Weinstock and Stanley Wray. These names were taken from the 150 attendees listed. George Parks was listed as the West Coast Division Chairmen and Paul Chryst was listed as the East Coast Division. Maj. Gen. Stanley E. Wray  (Ret)  was listed as  President.  This was 42 years ago.

Noting that Joe Harlick was at the very first reunion and at the last reunion in 2008. In the 42 years, Joe helped so many members, historians, authors and family members with his collection of photos.

I had the privilege of talking to Gen. James McPartlin (Ret) and he was concerned about future plans for the 91st BGMA and what we plan to accomplish. I told him that I was working with the Planes of  Fame  Museum to expand our  Memorial  to the  91st  and  provide memorabilia that has been collected and that includes books, videos and original leather jackets. The next item was the continued effort to place more information on the web page. We believe that the web page for the 91st  Bomb Group Memorial Association is the largest web page of any military group and we have many more stories and photos to add.

From England, I received pictures from Vince Hemmings that included a picture of the Wreath from the 91st that was placed along the Wall of Missing. This was at the Madingley Memorial Ceremony 25 May 2009. We are very thankful for Vince's continued support.

I had dinner with David & Linda Crow, from England, and truly enjoyed their company and friendship. David filled me in on the Prop Memorial at Bassingbourn and that it is in great condition. Like Vince Hemmings, David & Linda are true friends of the 91st Bomb Group Memorial Association.

The e-mail  communication  is continuous and we are finding out more and more that the people of Europe and England really appreciate the sacrifice make by so many during WWII. The number of historians in Europe are increasing and they really wish to know the truth of many of the events of WWII, especially about the crash sites and the crews involved.

A new addition to the web page is the 91st Blog. Visitors are asking questions and leaving wonderful statements regarding their life during the war. Thanks to "The Mike Banta Ring of Veterans & Historians", many questions are answered. I continue to find that working with "Living History" (Veterans of the 91st) it is overwhelming rewarding. If you can, go to the 91st Blog that is listed on the web page and read the questions, answers and comments.

Jim Shepherd