March 29, 2010 Rotogram


      Today’s guest is Ben West, extension wildlife specialist whose humorous and educational presentation is called  Death by PowerPoint.  He will be introduced by Matt Cox.


      Our guest next Monday will be Bill McPherson, President of the B.B. King Museum Foundation and chairman of the Mississippi Blues Commission.


Attendance: There were 101 members  (66 active, 34 exempt, 1 honorary) present and  90 missing (65 active, 14 exempt, and 11 honorary).  Five members (4 actives and 1 exempt)  are on leave.

Invocation and Pledge: Maridith Greuder.

Visitors and Guests: Visiting Rotarians were Dr. Gordon Hazzard and Bill Overstreet of West Point,  and Birney Imes of Columbus.     Guests of members included Chris Nettles, Walter Carnes,  and  Russell Cobb of John Robert Arnold; Ginger Jones of her husband Shelton; and Trey Templeton of George Sherman. Club guests were RYE Students Francesca Scaravelli and Kasper Eriksen, and Kelly Daniels of Starkville Daily News.

Makeup: Credited with makeups were Larry Mullins in Eupora, and Ned Browning, March Board Meeting.

Meeting Notes: It was “Water Awareness Week” and  President Martha announced that our Club has contributed $10,000 to the District 6820 water project in Kenya (more than any other 6820 club). We have also provided $1,000 for the 2011 R.I. Convention in New Orleans.

      She  announced meetings of three committees: Group Study Exchange, Boy Scouts, and New Member Information.

      Roy Ruby came up with another gem for his “Absolutely Nothing to do with Rotary Minute.”


      Rotarian Grant Arinder reported that he and his family, including RYE Student Kasper Eriksen, logged a lot of miles on their van over spring break. They drove to New Mexico and Arizona and back. Their main destination was the Grand Canyon. Grant said that when they went into the lodge overlooking the canyon they noted a sign that “Rotary Meets Here Today.” They were directed upstairs to a room with a magnificent view. He said the family almost outnumbered the members of the small Grand Canyon Rotary Club.

After lunch, the president said the scheduled program didn’t show up so Kasper was invited to be the speaker of the day and he presented his program on Denmark (without his PowerPoint).  Good job, Kasper! Incidentally, Kasper and his host brother, Garison Arinder, hiked to the bottom of the canyon and back. And Kasper said the two teenagers made it in record time.

They presented a Grand Canyon Rotary Club banner to President Martha for our collection.


      A Group Study Exchange Team from northern Italy is scheduled to arrive in Jackson Saturday for a month- long visit in District 6820. They will come to Starkville Friday, April 9 and be with us through our Rotary meeting Monday, April 12.

      Team leader is Franco Docchio, who is a nuclear engineer, a  professor of engineering, and a member of the Rotary Club of Brescia Nord. Team members include two women and two men.

      Simona Gentilini is a doctor specializing in pediatrics. She hopes to visit pediatric clinics and centers during her stay in Mississippi.

      Serena Giuliano is a biochemist and molecular biologist at the University of Pavia.  She is interested in comparing research techniques in her field.

      The two men are engineers. Simone Stancari is an architectural engineer whose major interest is energy efficiency.

      Alessandro Copeta is a mechanical engineer who specialty is analytical design.

      Sherrie Van Landingham and her Group Study Exchange Committee are planning a varied schedule of activities for the team’s visit. All of the Italians speak some English and several are fluent. However, RYE  Student Francesca Scarvelli is looking forward to serving as interpreter during the team’s visit.


      Although it happened 65 years ago, Bill Nettles has a clear recollection of April 25, 1945, a day he calls “the day the wheels came off the Nazi war machine.” He shared his memories with us in a PowerPoint presentation that included some graphic photos of the horrors of war.

      The military career of the young man from Tishomingo County began in 1943 when he and other Army ROTC cadets at Mississippi State were called to active duty and reported to Ft. McClellan, AL. He recalled that a great many of the army officers in WW II came from the ROTC ranks.

      He went to Camp Shelby in July 1944, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, and assigned to the 69th Infantry Division as a platoon leader.

      In early 1945, the 69th Division was shipped to Europe and its first action was in February at the Siegfried Line. His photos showed the remains of the heavily fortified concrete bunkers that the Germans built along the French-German border.

      The Germans were retreating as the Allied forces made steady advances. Nettles recalled that the next obstacle the 69th encountered was the Rhine River. All but one bridge had been destroyed, he said. The 69th crossed the river on the only remaining bridge at Remagen and on April 6, raised the American flag over a mountaintop fort built in 1116. It had twice been destroyed and rebuilt.

      Nettles  said the flag was the one that had come down over the fort in 1923 when WW I occupation ended.  He recalled that more than 20 generals, including Omar Bradley, were there for the memorable flag  raising while the 8th Air Force flew  cover.

      The 69th Division then moved to Leipzig and encountered stiff German resistance.  On April 20, after 10 days of artillery bombardment, they conquered the city. Photos showed the devastation of the city from the artillery barrage. Nettles recalled that when they entered the city hall, they discovered that the mayor, his wife and daughter, and other city officials had committed suicide before the Americans arrived.

      Nettles said that  General Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander in the European Theater, had conceded Berlin. The 69th moved on to the city of Grimaca. The American 1st army and the Ukranian 1st army were on opposite sides of the Mulda River some 20 or 30 miles away.

      The 69th reached  Ellenburg on April 22 and 2 days later received orders to attack Wurzen on the near side of the Mulda River. They met no resistance. Forward observers in an unarmed aircraft (a small Piper Cub) reported a column of perhaps 20,000 German troops and a dozen tanks moving towards Wurzen. A German speaking American general commandeered an Opel (automobile) and sped off towards the advancing column.

      A brash young 2nd lieutenant named  Robertson, disobeying orders not to cross the Mulda, also headed in that direction with three enlisted men in his jeep. With defeat of Germany  fast approaching, Nettles said that on April 25, the column of 20,000 German soldiers and 500 POWs marched into Wurzen with the American general riding on top of the lead tank.

      “The 20,000 Germans surrendered to our company of about 50.” He said they chose to surrender to the Americans rather than to the Russians that by this time were entrenched  in Leipzig.  He reported that Lt. Robertson was not only vindicated he received a field promotion to captain.

      The war in Europe ended but Nettles stayed in Germany for a year during reconstruction then spent 3 years in occupation and reconstruction in Japan.

      He ended his military career as a Lt. Colonel after 24 years and came home to Mississippi where he served in  Mississippi State’s business affairs under Lewis Mallory, Sr. He said his home on South Montgomery was “about three good chip shots from the Starkville Country Club.”

      John Robert Arnold, who was also a member of that ROTC class of 1943, introduced the program.

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