20002
20002

The Manchu Reunion Y2K is history


        It also made history as the largest post war gathering of Vietnam era Manchus yet with 112 vets and family in attendance. And, for the first time, three family members of Manchu casualties were our guests. Ame Dittmann, niece of Richard Craig Stevens and Charles Grant and Virginia Johnson, brother and sister of Butch Grant were there for the special memorial service that was held at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

        Thanks to Craig Greaves (Bravo Company 67-68) the Memorial Service was a moving tribute to those Manchus who lost their lives in Vietnam. A color guard from the 3rd Infantry (Old Guard) presented the colors, the Chaplain from Fort McNair paid a moving tribute to all our friends and comrades who died in that war. A wreath in the shape of the 25th Division patch was placed at the center of the wall along with a card containing the names of the 367 dead we have so far been able to identify as Manchus. But the ceremony was not for those named alone. It was for all Manchus killed in Vietnam, including those, perhaps as many as 100 more, we have not yet been able to identify.

Day One
        We were off to a great start, even before the reunion began. By Wednesday several dozen Manchus had already arrived at the hotel where they began renewing old acquaintances and making new friends with the guys from other companies and different times.

        When registration opened at 9:00 a.m. on Friday there was a steady flow of Manchus making their way to the Discovery Room at the Holiday Inn Capitol. By noon 37 Manchus and more than a dozen family members had already registered. At days end the figure topped 100 with a few late comers making it to Washington early Saturday morning in time for the Memorial Service.

        The day was spent on Friday sharing old stories, photos, slides and videotapes. A large collection of Vietnam gear uniforms, weapons and more were on static display at one end of the room. A few hearty souls even worked up the courage to down a canteen cup of C-ration coffee that was freeze-dried in 1968.

        At the cocktail reception in the evening, John Senka awarded special commemorative T-shirts to fellow Mole City Survivors. It was a touching and thoughtful gesture appreciated by everyone.

        Many familiar faces were there along with a number of newcomers: Rich Tipton, Robert Tafoya, Mitch Holloway, Ron Beedy, Sam Colman, John Senka, Jon Wright, John Arentz, Jeff Bobbins, Bill Chandler, Bob Chavous, Dave Cline, David Cole, Marshall Dawson, Bill Fitch, John Gilberston, Craig Greaves, Dan Hardman, Paul Kekeuwa, Robert Kron, Rick Lutz, E. Murray O'Donnell, Doc McAdams, Bob Newman, Ron Price, Nick Ray, Tom Reynolds, Ken Robinson, Gary Schoonover, Paul Seib, Harold Shelley, Mike Smith, Danny Spencer and David Young all made the trip for the first time. We're glad they did. First timer Paul Kekeuwa, who came from Oahu, Hawaii with wife Sheila, won the " Magellan Award" hands down as the Manchu who traveled the farthest.

Go to Day Two