October 8, 2012 Rotogram: 14

District Governor Visits

Rotary District 6820 Governor Danny Williams of Ridgeland makes his official visit for the year. With 44 clubs to visit, the DG takes a whirlwind tour of middle Mississippi.

Next Week: MSU Veterinary Medicine

Kent Hoblet, Mississippi State’s dean of Veterinary Medicine, will describe his college’s world class research and teaching programs in animal and public health and the clinic’s service to animal owners in Mississippi and other states.

New Member Orientation

Nine new Rotarians learned about Rotary International, District 6820 and our local club at the first orientation session of the year on Oct. 2. Leading the orientation at Harvey’s Restaurant were Frank Chiles, Bill Foster and Briar Jones. President Debra and Past-president Ned Browning also participated.

Resignation

The board has accepted with regret the resignation of Gary Chism.

Past President Passes

Paul Jacob, Starkville Rotary Club president in 1963-64 died on Sept. 25. President Debra expressed the Club’s condolences.

EREY

The district governor’s visit marks a good time to remind members of the Every Rotarian, Every Year (EREY) initiative. It encourages all Rotary club members to support The Rotary Foundation financially each year. The worldwide EREY fundraising goal (Annual Fund goal) is $120 million.

For the Record—October 1

Invocation and Pledge:    Giles Lindley

Attendance:                                     49.6%

Present — 85 (26 exempt)

Absent — 96 (19 exempt, 11 honorary)

Makeup reported: Carey Hardin.

Guest: Guest of the Club was Giulia Martinoli, RYE student.

Fall Social Success

Oct. 1 — The annual fall social mixed fellowship and service as we raised more than $2,000 for a Rotary Roof for Starkville’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

In the fun and games, it looked like past presidents’ night as Martha Wells took the top prizes in bingo and Ned Browning led in the golf ball drop.

Other winners were Alan Tucker and W.C. Johnson in the ball drop, and Ellen Boles, Hardy Mitchell, Sandra Harpole, Roy Ruby, Barbara McLaurin and Jeff Read in bingo.

Despite the drizzly weather, we enjoyed delicious steak and chicken prepared by the Rotary grill masters.

Among our many guests were Giulia Martinoli’s Rotary Youth Exchange host parents, the Follettes. Legendary Rotary Secretary/Treasurer W.W. Littlejohn’s daughter Betty also joined us.

President Debra welcomed guests as a stand-in for Vice President Brent who was on duty with our Cub Scout Pack 14. Rotarian Giles Lindley led our invocation and pledge.

Mississippi National Guard

“The state mission is to provide protection of life and property, and uphold the preservation of peace, order and public safety for the citizens of Mississippi, under the leadership and control of the governor.”

“The federal mission is to serve for the common defense, under Presidential authority, in times of national emergency or war.”

Sept. 24 — Adjutant General Leon Collins, commander of Mississippi’s Army and Air National Guards, briefed us on the more than 12,000 strong force.

“My mama told me whenever someone does something good for you, you need to say thank you,” said the former commander of the 155th brigade in Operation Iraqi Freedom. “On behalf of Starkville’s second battalion 114th field artillery, let me say thank you for the support you gave them.”

More than two million service members  have been deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait or Iraq since 2001. The Mississippi National Guard has sent more than 15,000 of those troops. Some have been deployed two, three or four times.

“They don’t do it for glory, but to protect the things in this life that have value,” said Collins.

“Fortunately we’re fighting only on one front today,” said the 35 year National Guard veteran. “And, we’re drawing down forces in Afghanistan.”

About 23,000 service members have been pulled out this year. Coupled with last year’s withdrawal of 10,000, the equivalent of the 33,000 soldier “surge” is out. However, there still are 68,000 troops on the ground.

Today’s goal is to train Afghans to take over the security operations in their nation. The force stands at about 350,000 troops, but their proficiency is of great concern. Many are illiterate or corrupt.

“It’s a way of life and it’s hard to train somebody to do something different when they don’t really understand what they’re doing wrong,” said Collins.

The current strategy is to push insurgents into southwest Afghanistan and isolate them. Collins said that should buy more time to complete the training of native forces.

Mississippi still will provide forces in Afghanistan and beyond. At present, about 1,700 Mississippi soldiers and airmen are deployed worldwide in 13 countries providing logistic support.

Of special note is the agribusiness education effort supported by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

“Soldiers from the 31st Rear Operations Center will teach Afghan citizens how to care for livestock and grow crops,” said Collins. “Now, all of the members of that unit were not farmers, so we asked Mississippi State and Alcorn State to train them this summer.”

On the home front, the Guard deals with natural disasters. In the wake of the recent Hurricane Isaac, more than 1,500 guardsmen were mobilized.

Due to record flooding, more than 700 rescues had to be carried out using high trucks, aircraft and three special forces water units.

Collins closed with the story of a soldier’s perspective on service above self. As the staff sergeant was heading home from Iraq, she said, “My uniform is old. It’s bleached almost white by the desert sun. My boots are all dirty. Now I can go home because I’m the one with the dirty boots.”

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