Question: What happens when 308 close friends get together for three
days in a warm and welcoming city?
Answer: They have an outstanding time.
And that is the long and short of the 2008 Manchu Reunion, which was
held this year in San Antonio, Texas. Despite concerns that the
powerful hurricane Ike that battered Galveston and the Texas gulf
coast might interfere or even cancel the 11th annual get together, the
weather was great and turned out to be a perfect match with the
outcome of the reunion – it could not have been better!
The El Tropicano hotel did a great job of hosting us. Its location on
the banks of the San Antonio River meant it was an easy stroll to all
the many restaurants that line the River Walk. From there it was a
short hop to the city’s most famous attraction, the Alamo. And did
the Manchus take advantage of the location. A typical cruise in one
of the river taxi would end up meeting several other dismounted Manchu
elements on the bridges and riverbanks downtown. It seemed we were
intent on taking over the city. By the time we piled out of the tour
buses at the San Jose mission, the cathedral and the Alamo our
conquest was complete.
In addition to the many area tours and events going on in the city we
had a full agenda at the hotel with the mutli-talented Bill Marion
hosting “auditions” for his new Manchu Cowboys singing group. The
event figures to be a regular feature of future gatherings.
Sam Colman spearheaded a most worthwhile activity this year when he
brought more than a dozen Manchus to the Brooke Army Medical Center at
Ft. Sam Houston to visit the Wounded Warrior Project there. We met
the great staff and several of the 56 volunteers who provide a home
away from home for family members of the wounded from Iraq and
Afghanistan. Sam also organized a shopping expedition to local stores
to round up donations for the families of the wounded.
The annual Manchu Open Golf Tournament had 24 stalwarts take to the
Willow Springs course. Al Baker fought off Larry James in a challenge
match that had the loser contributing $100 to the Manchu treasury but
the real action saw perennial tourney winners Dan McKinney and Tom
Maddux being edged out by first time winner on the Manchu Tour – Ronny
We had another first time winner in the competition for the best
Manchu moustache. It was a hard fought battle that pitted the
determined efforts of Alen Fyfe and Doc Clark, against the hirsute
Johnny Guidry and last-minute entry “the Manchu bear.” In the end,
the “bear” could not overcome the rajun Cajun and “Frenchy” Guidry
took the title and will have his named engraved on the coveted Manchu
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A full agenda at the annual business meeting saw the membership agree
to make a one-time donation in support the family of one of the
Manchus wounded during the battalion’s deployment in Iraq in
2007-2008. Funds were also set aside to continue support for the
Wounded Warrior project at the Brooke Army Medical Center.Pictures by Doug & Marie Simone
Larry James, Alen Fyfe and Cheri Criteser were re-elected to their
posts of president, vice president and secretary/treasurer.
At the banquet on Saturday Chaplain Don Crowley arranged for the
appearance of a lone piper who played Amazing Grace in remembrance of
the fallen. An outstanding video prepared by the current duty 4/9
Manchus, made while they were deployed in Iraq, was aired. Al Baker
entertained with his annual address and the Manchu wives were honored
with the presentation of commemorative pendants. After all their
years of support it was time they got some recognition for all they
have done and do on behalf of us Manchus. We also welcomed Ray Medina
who led a contingent from A Company, 65th Engineers. It was great to
have them with us again since they played such an important role in so
many of our operations during the Vietnam War.
The evening was capped off with our annual auction in which auctioneer
Alen Fyfe outdid himself, resulting in an engaged audience that bid
aggressively for the many great items donated for the event. Since
our association charges no dues and the auction is the only means of
raising funds for our charitable work, our thanks go to those who
contributed items and to those who were so generous in their bidding.
Thank you all.
Even though quite a few of the Manchus present were heard to comment
that this was the best reunion ever, don’t be surprised if the 2009
venue in St. Louis, Missouri tops it.
Photos by Wade Z. Pittman
The San Antonio slideshow has 127 photos, 6 seconds in between each photo, show is 13 minutes long.