November 23, 2009 Rotogram

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

The $24.5 million Mississippi Children’s Museum, under construction at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, is scheduled to be completed next Fall.  Today’s guests, Charlotte Seals, Madison County Public Schools assistant superintendent, and Lindsay Buford of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, will introduce us to the project.

INTERACT

Our newly sponsored Interact Club will be introduced to the Club today.

LAST WEEK

Invocation and Pledge: Shelton Jones

Attendance: There were 107 members (34 exempt, 2 honorary) present and 83 (15 exempt, 10 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: Visiting Rotarian was Bill Overstreet of West Point. Member’s guests were Reggie Gwin and Frank Gwin of John Robert Arnold. Guests of the Club were Kasper Eriksen and Francesa Scaravelli, Youth Exchange students; Paul Sims, Starkville Daily News; Mark Hazard, son of the speaker; and, Sara Hazard, wife of the speaker.

Special guests: Outstanding students and their families who were our guests included Travis Fuentes and mother, Joan; Jaylon Ashford, mother, Carla Gates, and grandmothers, Darlene Gates and Alice Ashford; Michael Camarena and parents, Blanca and Genove; William Paul Ellis and parents Paula and William; Lily Grado and mother, Renee Matich; Anna Thompson and mother, Robin. Outstanding teachers and their guests were Monica Lucas, Sudduth Elementary School, and Elizabeth Mosley, Sudduth principal; Andee Duett, Ward-Stewart School, and Watress Harris, Ward-Stewart assistant principal; Bobbie Lee Barr, Overstreet School, and Michael Barr.

WORLD WAR II – BEST DAYS, WORST DAYS, AND SECRETS

Dr. Mark Gordon Hazard, retired veterinarian, completed his reminiscences of World War II with an account of his unit’s push into Germany.

      His opening comments focused on the contrast between today’s worldwide, around-the-clock media  attention and the Allies’ successful secrecy during the war. In particular he noted the feint with rubber tanks that made the Germans think forces were massing for an attack from Dover.

      When the Nazis positioned their best troops in Calais to meet Patton, Eisenhower launched the D-Day invasion to the south. The secret was so well kept that when Allied troops hit the Normandy beaches, Rommel was in Berlin at his wife’s birthday and Hitler was asleep.

      Hazard was in the second wave of replacement troops following the invasion.

      A platoon leader in the 79th U.S. Infantry Division, he said his worst day was on Dec. 19, 1944, when they went against the Siegfried Line. The 390 mile defensive masterpiece under construction since the end of World War I, had to be breached to break into Germany.

      “It was the most diabolical emplacement you could imagine,” he said. “There were 18,000 bunkers—an average of 39 to the mile.”

      The bunkers had steel-reinforced concrete walls, 5 to 8 feet thick. Each emplacement was connected to the next one by underground trolley.

      The approach to the line was designed for machine guns to rake the area from all angles. The field of fire included a 10 foot deep by 25 foot wide antitank ditch followed by a 30 yard span of 6 foot high concertina wire.

      Hazard’s troops’ objective was to cross the field and direct flamethrower fire into the gun ports, since there were no other entrances.

      He said, “For the first half-day, we whipped them, then they turned the tide with reinforcements.”

      That night his battalion of 700 men had been reduced to 127. Hazard was one of two officers surviving.

      Despite an infected nick, he slipped out from the field hospital to rejoin his unit. By then the remaining 40 men in his company had been assigned to deal with a Panzer division in mountainous Belgian territory.

      Realizing they could not effectively fight in the woods, they pulled back and drew the Germany infantry into their field of fire. At days end, the tally was one American with a shoulder wound, and 396 Germans dead. That was Hazard’s best day of the war.

EXCELLENT TEACHERS AND STUDENTS

We began our annual recognition of outstanding students and teachers with the first three Starkville public schools.

Education excellence — Honored students and teachers are, front from left, Ashford, Camarena, Fuentes and Grado; back from left, Lucas, Ellis, Duett, Thompson and Barr.

 Representing Sudduth School, second grade teacher Monica Lucas, said her two honorees are “lights in her classroom” and that their grades show they know what school is for. Jaylon Ashford wants to be an artist. Michael Camarena wants to be a teacher.

      Bobbie Lee Barr explained that the students she selected exemplify team spirit by encouraging others and have the highest averages in most of their subjects in the third grade at Overstreet. Lily Grado aspires to be a veterinarian or medical doctor. Travis Fuentes isn’t sure what he wants to be, but his favorite subject is math.

      Andee Duett, fifth grade teacher at Ward-Stewart, expressed the teachers’ appreciation saying, “For school folks it just doesn’t get any better than getting to go out for lunch.” Her top students are always eager, are first to raise their hands, and soak up knowledge. William Paul Ellis loves history and wants to be a dentist. Anna Thompson also wants to be a veterinarian.

      Rotarian and Starkville Schools Superintendent of Education Judy Couey introduced the honorees in place of Richard Blackbourn,  Excellence in Education committee chair, who had been called to a university deans’ meeting.

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