USNTC Bainbridge Association

PO Box 147, Harrison, TN 37341-0147

Preserve the Past for the Future
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The USNTC Bainbridge Association was born on March 13, 1999 in the Oxford Room of the Holiday Inn, Newark, Delaware. Sixteen Bainbridge veterans met that day and committed themselves to the formation of an Association and the organization of a reunion.
The first volunteer officers of the Association were Porter E. May - President, Michael Miklas, Jr. - Vice President, Paul L. Fleming - Treasurer, and Annabelle F. ("Sue") Fischer - Secretary and Chairperson of the Committee to draft the articles of incorporation and bylaws for the nascent organization.
ORIGINAL OFFICERS:
Porter E. May, President
Porter May was a career Navy officer and served as the Comptroller for the Commander, NTC from August 1960 to August 1962.
Michael Miklas, Jr., Vice President
Mike Miklas was one of the first to urge the formation of an Association and reunion group. He served at Bainbridge for 27 months, beginning in 1951, as a ship's company Storekeeper Third Class, supplying small stores to all recruit regiments and to other Navy personnel on the base.
Paul L. Fleming, Treasurer, Curator and Historian
Paul Fleming served two tours at Bainbridge, first as a Naval Reserve boot in 1955 and then as a regular Navy student in the Personnelman school in 1958.
A. F. "Sue" Fischer, Secretary
Sue Fischer completed a Navy career including two tours at Bainbridge. First she was a Recruit Company Commander from October 1956 to October 1959. She returned to Bainbridge as the Chief Petty Officer in charge of the Briefing Board from March 1963 to August 1966.

From Left to Right: Paul Fleming, Sue Fischer, Porter May, and Mike Miklas, Jr.
ORIGINAL DIRECTORS:
All of the above officers and:
Edward C. Ellison
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CURATOR'S CORNER
By Paul L. Fleming

(A brief USNTC Bainbridge Association history by one of its founders.)

In the process of doing preliminary research for a book on Bainbridge back in April of 1998, I learned quickly that finding materials related to Bainbridge was going to be a challenge. For example, in the files of the Naval Institute at the Naval Academy, the archives at the Washington Navy Yard and National Archives II in College Park, Maryland (which has the greater part of military records), there are very few official photos of Bainbridge. Many of these are duplicates.

In the second year of my research, microfilm rosters were finally found as were the original site plans. Initially, I had been told that neither existed. Some bound, fragmenting copies of The Mainsheet were found in the Navy Yard Library at the Washington Navy Yard; even these are incomplete. Two other repositories, the Cecil County Historical Society and the Pratt Institute (Library) in Baltimore, were found to have limited vertical files of newspaper clippings. There is something wrong in the fragments of Bainbridge being so widely dispersed and so difficult to find.

In an expanded search for information, numerous letters were written to Navy reunion groups in an attempt to locate former Bainbridge shipmates. Several individuals responded expressing a need (and desire) for a USNTC Bainbridge Association.

The first organizational meeting was held March 13, 1999 at the Holiday Inn in Newark, Delaware. The goals of the Association were formulated by Porter May to:
Identify, locate and communicate with men and women who served aboard NTC as members of the uniformed armed forces of the United States or as civil service employees of the NTC to learn from and share with them the aquired history of NTC.
Collect and preserve graduation books, company and other photographs, copies of NTC publications, plans of the day, newspapers, records, and other documents pertaining to NTC Bainbridge and make them available for research and reference by members of the association.

Collect and preserve the personal experiences of men and women while they served aboard NTC as members of the uniformed armed forces of the United States or as civil services employees of the NTC in written or oral form on suitable audio or video media.

Foster the creation and maintenance of a museum located on or near land formerly occupied by the NTC open to both members of the association and to the general public.

Foster and organize volunteers committed to the preservation of the history of the NTC to work together in cooperation with other organizations with compatible objectives.

Provide means for men and women who served aboard NTC Bainbridge as members of the uniformed armed forces of the United States or as civil service employees of the NTC and their families and survivors to communicate with each other through reunions, newsletters, and personal correspondence.

Solicit dues and contributions from its members and grants from other public and private entities to help the Association to achieve the above purposes and objectives.
Currently (6/99), there are approximately 1,000 individuals on the USNTC Bainbridge Association roster. The first newsletter was produced in January 1999. A bank account was established in February of 1999 in the name of USNTC Bainbridge Association. The Association has been incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the state of Delaware with temporary officers and directors. Application for federal tax exemption as a nonprofit organization.

Considering that the average age of WWII veterans is now 77-78, more living history is lost every day and the Association memorabilia becomes of less and less interest to surviving family members. It is reported that we lose 1,000 veterans a day. Individual copies of company and school pictures have been donated as have been individual copies of graduation books from former recruit company commanders. There have also been donations of graduation programs, holiday menus, personal pictures, brochures, souvenier pillow cases, copies of postcards, copies of The Mainsheet, boot camp cartoon books, base directories, a variety of ID cards, gate passes, discharge certificates, maps of the base, teaching materials and other items. The oldest picture received so far is of company number 5 from 1942.

We are in need of memories and memorabilia. Your memories are the history of Bainbridge; the company and regiment you were in, what watches you stood, the routine as you remember it, friends you made, where you went after Bainbridge, rank achieved and what you did after discharge. If you were a civilian, what did you do there? Bainbridge without the memories of the people who knew the base becomes just a plot of land and some buildings. People made Bainbridge something worth remembering.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to photo-copy and return materials. The time and cost of correspondence and phone calls keep our efforts limited. To assure that material sent have been received, please obtain a return receipt when shipping them.

There are those, I am sure, who will readily say "Forget it! Let it go!" I am not one of them. The period of time in which Bainbridge existed was unique. Values were different. As a training base, Bainbridge outlasted her sister bases; Farragut in Idaho and Sampson in New York. Bainbridge has a greater legacy; a bigger story to tell. As the military has been continually down-sizing, the opportunity to become part of a truly interdependent team has become less and less available to youth seeking direction in their lives.

Perhaps, if the time capsule of Bainbridge can be preserved, future generations may be able to conceptualize a time, a spirit, a birthing process to manhood and womanhood that seems to have faded from the American fabric.
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COMMITMENT TO THE FUTURE
"Our potential as a group with a common interest can be far reaching."

Military organizations produce a unique culture of individuals who have long term bonds unknown and perhaps incomprehensible to those who have never served in the military. Veterans groups and military reunions perpetuate these attachments even among those who did not serve together or even having served during the same time period. Many organizations such as the VFW, American Legion and Fleet Reserve contribute to the future in philanthropic ways and in some cases perpetuate the memory of fallen comrades in commemorative plaques and memorials. What is it that we can or should do? Can we create something significantly tangible for future generations to ponder as being unique and worthy of recall and emulation?
The first goal, already underway, is the accumulation of materials for a USNTC Bainbridge Archive and the establishment of a suitable site for preservation, research and selective display.

A second goal should be the raising of funds adequate for the duplication of microfilmed rosters which would cost just under $2,000 exclusive of a microfilm reader/printer.

A third goal would be providing funding for the copying of the former base publication The Mainsheet. Existing fragile bound copies crumble a little more each time they are handled. They are yellowed and brittle. This publication is the documentation of the heartbeat and soul of Bainbridge.

A fourth, and probably the most significant goal, should be the compilation of a list and brief biography of those who died in action.
"We the living, have the option of recording our names and associations with Bainbridge. The dead have been denied their voice. We can speak for them if only to have their names remembered."
A first step would require obtaining the rosters to track where individuals were transferred from Bainbridge and/or cross-referencing casualty lists from fleet units. Certainly it is a long-range project, but not an impossible one or one beyond our capacity.

As the first USNTC Bainbridge Reunion approaches, give some thought as to what goals, beyond periodic get-togethers, are worthy of our efforts. Ask yourself if remembering our fallen comrades is worthy of your efforts.
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"Let me hear your thoughts and what commitment, if any, you feel we should make to the future."

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