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 President's Corner

Published in the October 2004 Ragged Irregular

Our quarterly Conference Call of your officers on 28 Aug 04 covered some updates on our continuing efforts to develop closer relations with Minot AFB (home of the 91st Space Wing) and the 91st Strategic Recon Memorial Assn, contacts with American Battle Monuments Commission and the refurbishing of the signs on the Prop Memorial at Bassingbourn arranged by David Crow of "The Friends of the 91st." Most of our attention turned to preparations for Reunion 2004 which is covered so admirably herein and below.

Unlike at the Reunion in Tacoma, I did remember to thank most of our members who were so helpful at this one. I did neglect to thank Len Contreras for taking our group photos at the WW II memorial. The Hospitality Room was such an asset to our fun and games, I do hope I honored our "barkeeps" - Joe & Jenny Harlick, Ace Johnson, Earl Pate and Herb (and son) Engender with Mick Hanou and myself helping where needed. Many of our other members pitched in as we always have. Even though I tossed kudos at the Banquet, special mention has to go to Nancy Perri and Judy Williams who monitored Registration and Betty Goldberg who arranged the lovely banquet decorations. Our unsung hero, Jim (and Suzi) Shepherd, helped in many ways including many months of keeping the world advised on the web site which now has over 250,000 hits. Wow!

Our business meeting started and ended on time and provided an "open mike" for the last hour. Ace Johnson gave his excellent reports on our finances (noted elsewhere). We received a report from Vince Hemmings on his complete compilation of photos of all the 91st  names on the Wall of the Missing at Cambridge and the finishing of refurbishing of the Prop Memorial. We discussed and made available copies of draft changes to the By-Laws to make us a Board-managed organization with the President as chief executive officer rather than a rather autocratic organization. If you approve the changes when they are published in the January Ragged Irregular, we will also have a better chance of bringing our associate members into leadership positions and perpetuating the 91st BGMA beyond our dimming years. After the business meeting we were privileged to meet with Hilary "Bud" Evers, our Historian Emeritus who provided the basic research on which we all depend for our historical accuracy; we have such a great tradition that we do not need to claim credit for things that are not correct. Jake Howland and I are intent on being as accurate as possible for posterity.

The banquet on Sunday night was attended by over 200 who enjoyed great food, decor and fellowship. Tony Goddard from Wincanton, England, told of his city's continuing memorial to the crew members of "Old Faithful" who spared the city but gave their lives. James Bard of the 91st Strategic Recon. Memorial Assn. shared his views on how we hope to develop our mutual heritage. Vince Hemmings delivered greetings from Royston and others in England and mentioned how diligently the East Anglia Aviation Society is working to carry on the Tower Museum and other activities in our behalf. I had the pleasure of presenting my personal Certificates of Appreciation (Jake Howland's handiwork) to "Bud" Evers, Paul Limm, Vince Hemmings and our retiring 2nd VP and former editor of The Ragged Irregular, Phil Mack. Our keynote speaker, M/Gen Ron Bath, from the office of the Secretary of the Air Force, gave us a terrific view of the "Future of the USAF" and then was kind enough to join us in the Hospitality Room afterwards.

What's next? We decided on Colorado Springs for 2006, probably September. Ace Johnson and I will make arrangements with Sam Newton already working on securing tickets to an Air Force Academy football game and Jim  Fletcher helping. Nancy Perri and Judy Williams have agreed to head-up Registration, Betty Goldberg is thinking up decorations for the banquet and Mick Hanou will be in charge of arranging coverage for the Hospitality Room. Mike Crossman of the Airmen's Preservation Society - who had a great display in our Hospitality area - is planning on attending and James Bard will see if the 91st Strategic Recon is interested in making it a joint affair. Our keynote speaker, M/Gen. Ron Bath, was either so impressed with our dedication or recognized we needed help that he volunteered to assist us with arrangements at the Academy and NORAD.

Start planning now for Reunion 2006.

So much for the "Corner" staying a corner. Sorry, Steve and Nancy.

Your Pres. Ed Gates