Gosh! In 1996 I went with my wife Susan to her 30th class reunion in Conrad, Montana. I had a wonderful time, but when it was over I told her that I was sad because I really want to have a reunion with my Saigon friends, but could not. Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself! Saigon was the place I had really cared about. She looked at me and said “quit feeling sorry for yourself, why can’t you”?
Thus started my quest.
Thank God for the Internet… (and Al Gore!)
In 1998 I went on the Internet to start looking for people. (My Hotmail account still has only four spaces for my password.) I contacted a fellow (Joe Condrill) that started Overseas Brats. He gave me Arlene Zucker’s address and phone number. She was Larry Smith’s old girl friend. I called her and that is when it really all started. We both decided to have a reunion…whether it be two people or several, we had no idea. We worked hours on the Internet, phone calls, and letters in attempts to contact old Saigon Kids. By 1999 we located several. All kinds of methods were used to locate folks. I cannot explain the happiness I felt every time I found an old friend. Of course there was sorrow for when I found out that Jim Calkins had been killed in an auto wreck in Sep. 1968 (I was stationed in N.C. at the time, not far away from West Virginia). Jim’s girlfriend in Saigon had been Dini. I bawled when I found out Penny Emery had died (and her husband L.A.). It was like being in 1961, and then they are gone.
We decided that Phoenix would be the place for the reunion. It is about 3 hours from me, but I would figure out where. Arlene and I worked very hard to make this reunion happen. The guidance that she gave me was to make it very nice. I picked the Wigwam, and it was not a mistake. It turned out to be great!
Over the next several months we were able to locate several more folks…and the reunion came to place.
Terry started the website Saigon61. He worked at Intel at the time. When Terry left us…a big blow to most of us…we were not sure what would happen to the site. I found that SaigonKids was available. I purchased it and later transferred it to Roy. He had the expertise to run it!
By the way…how did the name Saigon Kids come about?? Arlene, Sarah and I decided that it would be a good name … after going through many … not everyone in Saigon was a teenager, not everyone was an American, not everyone went to ACS, etc. Thus the name for our reunions and whatever else that would follow! But if you want to blame anyone for this mess we have called Saigon Kids, blame my wife for telling me (when I whined about not having old friends and she got to go to a reunion … yes, I was really bad … up there in the “Middle of Montana” when she said …it is up to you)…that I could make it happen!!!
Thus … Phoenix … Sarah for Hawaii … Arlene, Larry & Frank for Nashville, and Roy with a lot of encouragement from many … for Saigon!!!
The only folks that have made all the reunions so far are Arlene, Ruthie, and yours truly (Did I miss someone?) … HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE … in the real place … Saigon!! It really is one of the those once in a life time “THINGS”!!!!
I know you hate those shots that you have to get!!!!
Actually, I did leave one person off the list that has been to all three reunions. He’s the one that pushed for Sarah to have it in Hawaii (If you have not been to Hawaii … You have not lived) … Who is that person? Will he make it to Saigon?