The Excelsior Rotary Club
Club Update:  The Excelsior Rotary Christmas Party will be held tonight, Tuesday, December 5th at Lord Fletchers starting at 5:30PM.  At last count we had 39 club members and guests for our festive celebration.  This is our highlight event of the year with, music, games and great food and we look forward to seeing you there!
STRIVE 2023-2024:  Our STRIVE meeting on November 30 was on “Attitudes of Successful People” presented by Nick Ruehl.  The next session on December 7th will be with Tim Litfin presenting on “Attitudes:  Diseases of Attitude and Attitude Control.”  These are great sessions! Also, we need more mentors!
Resource West: On behalf of our club Tiffany presented a $1,000 check to Resource West’s Executive Director Tracie
Stanton on Friday, November 28th for the Teen Gifts of the Toy Chest Program.
Our Program on November 21, 2023 was Keith Stuessi speaking on Vietnam 1968-1969 in his own words.                                                                                            
“I started this October 17, and was asked to continue Nov. 21, as there were many questions. This is a brief summary Steve wanted for the Dec. 5 noon program: After moving to MN late 1970 and for the first ten years here, I don’t recall meeting anyone who had served in the military in Viet Nam. So, I thought my experiences might be of interest to this group. I lost five friends during the Viet Nam era, and those losses still haunt me today.                           
After 15 months in the military in April 1968, I was the first guy out of 2800 “Standby Reservists” in Ft. Carson, Colorado levied out to Viet Nam. Who did I piss off? My assignment was to head up the “Finance and Special Operations Unit” of our Support Battalion, assigned to the 101st, comprised of 20 Vietnamese and 8 GIs. We paid over 2000 Vietnamese who worked for the US military in Bihn Dinh Provence, in which Qui Nhon was the capital.                                                                   
What made my “tour” very bearable, and often very enjoyable, was the four people I met in my first 24 hours there in 1968. I still have this image of all of them in my head from 1968. Sarah, John and I were all 24 then, our Colonel about 45 and Tau was about 30. Forever young.                                                                        
Sooo, why me first was STILL THE immediate question? The Colonel finally spilled the beans: The Vietnamese in my unit and many educated Vietnamese grew up under French rule Since WW II where French was their second language. Also half were Catholic and half Buddhists.                                                                                      
As it turned out, my French language and culture background was key to my getting this very privileged assignment: With Sarah, who also had a similar French background, we were able to teach English to over 150 Vietnamese in our compound and 2 smaller cities. These classes we taught for 9 months, and working with the Vietnamese, became our best memories of Viet Nam.                                  
Tragedies that staggered us. I mentioned the loss of a Kansas fraternity brother, an Air Force pilot whose supply plane was shot down. Also, the Red Cross planes sent to retrieve the injured from remote fire bases. I was assigned to these flights as a French language interpreter. Many of the kids did not survive before we could get them back to our large hospital.  Their little bodies could not survive the shrapnel as larger adult bodies could. Don’t ask me about cluster bombs. It’s the kids who will find them.
1.)The draft process was entirely unfair. It was supposed to be random, but it was not! White guys like me with college degrees were essentially “privileged,” and treated far better than most.
2.)The Jane Fonda and General Westmorland debacles.  Hanoi Jane’s meeting with Ho Chi Minh while John McCain was in the “Hanoi Hilton” and the General’s phoney testimony to Congress disgraced them in the eyes of us GIs. 
3.)My incredible privilege of free travel until I graduated from college. My free TWA passes allowed me to learn French in Paris and in French speaking Switzerland. 
4.)My Dad Flying his TWA jet to Viet Nam. By 1968 my dad had 28 years of seniority and could fly any plane on any route he chose. He bid Cam Rahn Bay and flew three flights there. But I missed him all three times. But my Mom’s cookies still got to me or the Cam Rahn Bay dispatch office.    
5.)Going Home. Early September 1969. Three days after arriving back in Kansas City, I was a full time Grad Student at KU in Lawrence. Us tanned GIs with short hair and button-down collar shirts stood out amongst the anti-war protestors with long hair and grunge clothes who berated us as “baby killers.”
6.)Epilogue, Redemption, and life goes full circle. By sheer happenstance, I met a Vietnamese man in Target Chan before Christmas 2021. He and his wife had been in the English classes Sarah and I taught over 50 years earlier and credits the English he learned that allowed them to escape from Vietnam and begin a new life in America. I got some satisfaction maybe something we did had a lasting positive impact on the Vietnamese.