What a way to celebrate our 10th anniversary!|
The official total was 298 in attendance but last minute arrivals after registration had closed brought the total to well over 300. By far the biggest and most would say best reunion since we Vietnam era Manchus held our first national get together in Las Vegas back in 1998.
Was there a highlight? There were many. Chief among them was the huge turnout in first time attendees.We are still counting noses but it looks like we had 30+ newbies on hand in Memphis. The new guys and oldtimers alike were treated to a better organized affair this time out thanks to the help we got from Armed Forces Reunions - AFR. AFR organized a series of well attended outings for Manchus and Manchu Family members to Beale Street, a City Tour – which included what has to be the world's most pampered ducklings at the Peabody Hotel. For many the highlight of offsite activities was the tour of Graceland. The Manchus were there in force. The Manchu Open Golf Tournament drew a record number of entrants but ended with a familiar result. Perennial champ Tom Maddux edged out Dan McKinney for top honors despite Al Baker's best efforts at gerrymandering the handicap system in his favor. Maddux and McKinney have are now tied with two victories each in the annual event.
The Executive Committee was sufficiently impressed with how things went this year that we have decided to ask AFR to handle the heavy lifting for our 2008 get together. Speaking of 2008, the membership voted overwhelmingly to hold next year's reunion in San Antonio. Watch the website for details which will be posted when details are finalized.
We had an impressive turnout for the annual business meeting which, in keeping with tradition, was kept mercifully short. The important business before us included the decision to continue our support for the 4/9 Manchus now serving in Iraq. The membership voted to continue our support with gift packages as well as a donation of $1500 to support a coming home party at Ft. Lewis when the Manchus end their tour in Iraq. Additionally, we decided to put together a reception committee to attend the coming home celebration with the new Manchus. The membership voted to return Cheri Criteser as Secretary/Treasurer, Alen Fyfe as Vice President and me, Larry James as President. We gratefully accepted the honor.
At the Saturday Banquet was its normal mix of missteps and memorable moments. Despite the president's inability to follow a clearly worded script we managed to get things back on track with the help of Johnny Guidry's nine-year-old granddaughter Alyssa who sang our National Anthem with gusto not to mention skill.
I had the honor of officially dedicating this 10th reunion to the most deserving of the Manchus – our medics. Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to those medics in attendance and will be mailed to those who could not be there with us. I was also privileged to read remarks prepared by two Manchus who could not be there – former Manchu 6 John Henchman who was kept away by family obligations, and currently battalion commander LTC Bill Prior who is now leading the Manchus in Iraq.
The biggest surprise of all came from our remarkable younger brothers. An unforgettable video mixing images of the 4th of the 9th in Vietnam with the 4th of the 9th in Iraq. It truly blew us away.
The evening was capped off with our fund raising auction which replenished the kitty for next year's reunion. Thanks for your generosity.
It was a remarkable get together and I look forward to seeing you all in San Antonio the third weekend in September, 2008.
Keep Up The Fire
4/9 Infantry Manchu (Vietnam) Association