Welcome to the NEW & IMPROVED 317th Engineer Alumni Association!
Welcome to the new social media website for the 317th Engineer Alumni Association. This website is dedicated to those who have served as a member of the 317th Engineer Battalion. Whether it was while the unit was assigned to Europe, or back here in the states, you are welcome to participate.
Why the Change?
Over the years as the webmaster of the 317thengineers.com website, I have enjoyed seeing those from era of the 317th Engineer Battalion, find the website and post entries in the guestbook. Some of these have been just alumni glad to find a website that linked to a part of their past, some were just to pay tribute to one of our fallen members, or others who were posting in hopes of someone who served with them. Over time, I started to see a need for a website that could be more interactive for the users. My hope was to create a more interactive website at some point in the future.
I will be honest, not only did this almost not happen...I was close to shutting down the website completely. I have been hosting/running a version of the 317thengineers.com website for over 10 years. I have enjoyed doing it but the truth is it takes time and money. The money I have always dealt with to the best of my ability and only ask when I really needed some help. The time gets a little more challenging as family commitments become more important. Over the past few months, I had been contemplating packing it in and shutting down the website because with social media websites like Facebook, the need is not as strong for just a "regular website." I have come to believe that people just did not visit the website like they used to. That changed one day recently because of Ed from Washington. Ed is one of our brothers who served with the 317th in the 1950s. One afternoon, I checked my mailbox at home and there was a letter from Ed. I sat down and opened Ed's letter. In that letter, he expressed his appreciation for the website and told me how he visits the website weekly, if for nothing else than to see if there are any new guestbook entries. In addition to the letter, Ed sent a check to help out with the costs. Ed's letter could not have come at a better time as this was about the time which I had informed everyone on Facebook that I would be stepping back from being the lead person on reunions and running the Facebook groups. Timing could not have been better. I realized at that moment, there are others out there who are generally not into Facebook, or other social platforms and they still need a place to come and enjoy the brotherhood of the 317th. I personally wanted to take the time and thank you Ed, for the letter and donation...it was the shot in the arm that I needed.
What is this new site?
I have taken and built this website on a new social media platform which enables the website to be more interactive, instead of a very static website. This site allows you to create an account, join 317th related groups, interact with one another as well as upload images and documents. This will be a true community dedicated to those who served with the 317th and build a legacy, larger than the Facebook groups. This new site is very much a work in progress and I will need help from all of you on content and suggestions for improvements. I want this to be built by the community so if you have any recommendations, content, etc, please feel free to share it. When you sign up, you will see a group called 'Site Improvements', this is an area for posting suggestions/recommendations.
Hey, I don't care about all that social media stuff, I just want to see the stuff from the old site!
No worries, I designed this website to include both the old and new. In order to access the stuff on the old website, you will notice that the menu at the top of the page, is the same as the old one. You do not have to create an account to access it but there are much more benefits for those who create an account as they will have access to the groups, find others who have joined from there era.
Why this instead of Facebook?
I know some will ask the question, "This seems so much like Facebook, why not just continue to manage the groups there for this purpose." It is a great question and the reality is that the 317th groups on Facebook will remain. Who knows, in time, all members of those groups may find there way over here, and the need for those groups will no longer be needed. So to answer the above question: I have spoken to many alumni over the years via the website and there is a rather large contingent of members out there that have no desire to join Facebook for various reasons. I have also heard from many of our current Facebook members who are only holding onto their Facebook accounts in order to keep in contact with their fellow brothers-in-arms. In addition, as we all have seen over the past year or so, Facebook has been caught up in scandal after scandal with their use of the "big data" which they have collected from each of us. For these reasons, I felt a need to move forward with a new social media platform which is dedicated to only our brothers and sisters (and family members are welcome as well). One think I will guarantee you as a fellow brother-in-arms, I WILL NOT SELL YOUR INFORMATION WHICH YOU SUPPLY TO THE WEBSITE. Your information is safe on this website. There will be no apps, games, etc which will extract your information. Search engines will naturally index the website which enables other alumni to find the website, but any information you place on the website will be controlled by your own permissions.
Are you going to charge for use?
The short answer to this is NO! With that stated, I will say that I will have to do something to help supplement the cost. With this being an interactive community type of website, the costs are not the same as those running just a static website. My overall investment thus far on the new site are getting up there. If all goes as planned, this time next year, I will have to upgrade my hosting package. Depending on how the website progresses, I may eventually allow fellow brothers-in-arms who have their own businesses, advertise as a way to help support the cost of running the website, but that is something that we will discuss in the future. I am also hoping to try and create a 317th Store where we can sell some merchandise to also help finance this project. I also continue to have a 'Donate' link on the main menu for those who would like to help out. I would prefer to have my fellow brothers and sisters donate of their own free will rather than charge. I also have some other ideas that we can look at in the future. For now, just sign up, enjoy the site and let me know what you think.
By Industry And Honor,
John Evans, 317th Alumni Association Webmaster