They say that when you visit Albuquerque for the first time you're faced with a choice - red chillies or green chillies and that if you're wise you'll pick the red chillies, green chillies being an acquired taste that may take some getting used to. This decision faced all the Manchus and their families as they met for the 17th reunion of the 4/9 Infantry Association at Albuquerque's Uptown Sheraton hotel. Regardless of the decision on the chillies front, the choice of the hotel was a good one. Friendly and accommodating staff and location convenient to nearby dinning and other attractions made for a great week.

Early arrivals were greeted with uncharacteristically cloudy skies and drizzle on Wednesday but we awoke Thursday to sunshine, blue skies, as the Manchu Open Golf Tournament was the focus of attention in the world of sports. The Manchu threesome of Ronnie Carrol, Dan McKinney and Larry Ward took home top honors. Sal Cannizzaro walked away with the coveted "Hole in the Pole" award. From then onward we had generally great weather for the remainder of the week.

The stark beauty of the desert southwest served as the backdrop for our tours of Albuquerque as well as nearby Santa Fe. These were well attended as was the cable car ride up into the Sandia Mountains. Once the scheduled activities began we fell into a familiar rhythm. Willy Dixson drove from his home in Arizona and brought the biggest collection of Manchu Vietnam War memorabilia we've ever had. He also outdid himself with another beautiful reunion pin. Even more thoughtful was his creation of a gold dog tag for each Manchu lady with an engraving thanking them for their support.

Larry "Bear" Criteser made a road trip out of his journey to the reunion that included a stop at Ft. Carson, Colorado where the 4/9 Manchus are now based. After a meeting with the new battalion leadership a plan was hatched to see if he could get some participation by the latest generation of Manchus. Thanks to the generosity of some individual Manchu family members and a contribution from our association we were able to provide the necessary support to host six Manchus who mounted a color guard for us. On hand were 1LT Jay Parker, First Sergeant Edward Mills, SFC Danny Rodriguez, SSG Travis Daddato, SSG Denver Stennett and SGT Mathew Yeatts. Their participation added immeasurably to the festivities. It was great to have them with us.

The principle agenda item at the business meeting was selection of a reunion site two years down the road. We already knew we were going to Norfolk, Virginia in 2015. That location provides us the opportunity for some interesting side trips with Colonial Williamsburg chief among them. As Norfolk is the hometown of Manchu Medial of Honor Recipient Ruppert Sargent the venue also gives as a chance to pay our respects to this Manchu hero.

The reunion site selection for 2016 resulted in the group deciding on Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City's central location, good airline connections and many amenities offered by the hotel and the city should result in a good turnout two years down the road. The members decision to direct the executive committee to disburse treasury funds to help lower the registration fee was arrived at as a way to make coming to a reunion as affordable as possible. With those instructions we hope to reduce costs substantially.

Larry James, Alen Fyfe, Bob Lannnon and Dan McKinney were honored to be re-elected to their posts of president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. All four wish to thank the membership for the opportunity and honor to serve the association.

Our return to the Southwest was fun but I never got to the bottom of the age old dispute of how the city got its name. Is it from the Latin alba quercus or "white oak" (the wood of the cork oak is white after the bark has been removed), or can it be traced to the Arabic 'Al-Barquq', meaning "the plum", and the derivative Galician (Galicia, northwest Spanish region) word 'albaricoque', the "apricot"? The apricot was brought to New Mexico by Spanish settlers, possibly as early as 1743. As the story goes, the settlement of La Ciudad de Albaricoque was established near an apricot tree. As frontiersmen were unable to correctly pronounce the Spanish (Galician) word, they pronounced it as "Albuquerque." You'll have to decide which story you find most convincing.

And, for the record, I'm staying away from the green chillies.

We look forward to seeing you all in Norfolk. Keep Up The Fire

Larry James
4/9 Infantry Manchu (Vietnam) Association

2014 Reunion Photos

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2014 Reunion Videos

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