Las Vegas... September 1999
The 2nd National Reunion of 4/9 Vietnam Manchus was an unqualified success. An official count on the number who attended may not be possible since some Manchus were not able to stay for the whole weekend. But, the group was probably at its largest at the dinner on Saturday evening when 61 Manchus, family and guests turned out. Even with such a large group the atmosphere remained low key, warm and friendly. By midmorning on Friday we had more than 30 Manchus so we took over the meeting room about 8 hours early. Videos from Willy's recent visits to Vietnam ran throughout the afternoon and evening while snapshots circulated and slides were screened.
So many Manchus had arrived by 2 p.m. Saturday we held an impromptu "Business Meeting." I put quotation marks around that because the meeting was only held to get a concensus on a couple of issues it seemed we needed to address. By the end of the half hour gathering we had made some decisions that we hope will serve to make the next reunion even better. First on the agenda was what to do with the more than $700 that had been forwarded to Cheri Criteser over the past year by Manchus who wanted to contribute one Manchu project or another. Cheri had agreed to keep the money but soon found that the only reasonable way to do it (that is to keep from having to report the money as income on her own tax return) would be to set up a non-profit organization that could enjoy tax exempt status. To make a long story short, the group agreed by acclamation to do just that. The exact details involve a request to the 9th Infantry Association to accept our 4/9 Manchu Vietnam Association as a sub-chapter of the larger organization. Since this approach involves no cost to us it was also agreed to by acclamation. At this point, it may be worthwile to mention there is no membership fee, no dues, no requirement to "join" our new non-profit organization. The Department of the Army or the 90th Replacement Detachment took care of that some 30 years ago.
To qualify as a non-profit group officers needed to be elected and we agreed to do so. We began with the most important and demanding position - that of Secretary-Treasurer. I am pleased to report that Cheri Criteser was elected to serve in that capacity. Alen Fyfe was elected Vice President and I am honored to have been chosen to serve as President. The three of us will maintain regular e-mail and telephone contacts over the course of the next year to deal with any issues that arise affecting the organization. As mentioned earlier, the first job of the new officers will be to formally request affiliation with the 9th Infantry Association which will assure our tax exempt status. We have also been asked to poll all Manchus to decide on a site for the reunion next year. More on that later.
The more than $700 dollars that had been forwarded to Cheri and now constitutes our treasury has already grown considerably. And that was because of an idea that developed after Alen Fyfe suggested a raffle to give away an original Manchu belt buckle. Al Baker, Alen and Willy got to thinking that since we now have a treasury why not add to it a bit by auctioning off the belt buckle. That seemed like a good idea but it got even better when Willy decided to donate nearly a dozen items he had picked up during his recent return visits to Vietnam. Cheri Criteser will have a better idea of the total amount raised for our treasury but I believe it was somewhere around $1,000. That means the funds in our account may be approaching $2,000. What to do with these monies will be the subject of discussion here on the Onelist. Watch this space!
When Willy and Bear decided to get together in a hotel parking lot in Las Vegas for a beer last year, who would have thought it would become an annual event? Well, it has and everyone who came to Las Vegas agreed we need to keep on doing it each year. The questions we now face are where and when. The group voted to charge the three officers with conducting a survey to determine the site of our reunion next year. There has already been considerable discussion here online about going someplace other than Las Vegas. It was gratifying to hear Manchus proposing that we not limit the decision to those who had attended this year -- to open it up to all Manchus. So, the three of us will try to come up with a procedure that will allow all voices to be heard. Again, watch this space!
On the mood of the reunion, perhaps that should be capitalized for it was a singular event. I can't speak for everyone but I can say that it truly felt like family. All those people, from all parts of the country, surely could find something to argue about without breaking a sweat. Nobody did. The heartfelt prayer from Bob Lynch, the moving remarks by Al Baker about those things that made us feel like family, and the moving toast from John Henchman to the Manchus who died will be with me always. Thank you. Thank you very much.
See you all next year.
Keep Up The Fire
D Co. '68-'69
Manchus who attended the Las Vegas 2nd National Reunion.
Click on image to see a larger version.
Bn CO: John Henchman
Jon C. Drolshagen
Bob Dixson (Willy)
Charles Hellinger (also Bravo)
Frank Burnett (Korea)
Keith Bolstad (previously Bravo)
Larry "Bear" Criteser (also Alpha)
Richard Parris (also HHC, Charlie)
Robert M. Lynch (HHC)
Carl Eric Sorenson (HHC 4.2)
Chris O'Cell (HHC 4.2)
Ken Brunelle (HHC & Bn CO RTO)
There may have been a few others that I can't recall for the moment and who did not register. Corrections and additions welcome..