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31st Engineer Battalion Association Brothers Who Have Passed Since 2015

31st Engineer Battalion (CBT)
ASSOCIATION REUNION
Members, spouses, daughters, sons, families and friends of the 31st Engineer Battalion (Cbt) wish to remember the following loved ones who have passed since our last meeting in San Antonio, TX, October 2015.
Radmilo Batinic
Richard Cartwright, C Co Thomas Cooley
Doyle Dietsch, C Co
John Frye, HHC
Michael Gandolfo, B Co Keith Hiltner, A. Co
Rich Hopkins, C Co
Willa Dean Hoyle, B Co Michael J. Hurtt, B Co George Ingram, HHC Willie Lee
Ernie Meyers
Maurice Modisette, HHC Sam Pollard, D Co
Al Sandlin, D Co
Henry Sua
Robert Solvedt, C Co Linda Willis, HHC
Dave Young, C Co
May They Rest In Peace

2017 Colorado Springs Reunion Minutes

31st Engineer Battalion (Cbt): Minutes of 2017 Reunion
31st Engineer Battalion (CBT)

ASSOCIATION REUNION

Colorado Springs, CO

October 5 – 8, 2017

MINUTES

Coordination Meeting – October 4, 2017
At 6:00 p.m. Director Leo Farias called a meeting of association officers and other members to discuss protocol and business related to the 2017 reunion.

Present were: Leo Farias, Louis Brown, Stephen Johnson, Fred Webb, Warren Dubois, Jay Fulfer, and Charles Bruckerhoff. Ed Willis was not present.

Discussion focused on preparations for the general meeting for the next day: Following the by-laws, treasurer’s report, process of electing new officers for 2017 – 2019, registration, banquet planning and preparation, and selecting the city for the 2019 reunion.

Meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

General Meeting – October 5, 2017
Director Leo Farias called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.

Louis Brown gave the opening prayer.

Leo Farias led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Leo Farias followed with announcing the key events planned for the reunion.

The Director also welcomed all of the newcomers to the organization. He reminded everyone to complete the registration process for the reunion.

The Director also noted that the Hospitality Room, attended to by Leo Neely, would be open to members and their guests each evening of the reunion.

The Director also made the following announcements:

• Encouraged all members to pay their dues if they have not done so todate.

• Encouraged members to consider signing up for a dining out group to selected restaurants Friday evening and for
the charter bus tour planned for Saturday to the Center of American Values in Pueblo.

• Reported that Bob Brooks had purchased caps and shirts with the unit’s logo embroidered in color and encouraged members to consider purchasing them.

• Noted that going forward the new officers and membership should follow the By-Laws for all decision-making.

Warren Dubois gave the Treasurer’s report. The following shows the organization’s financial status after the reunion accounting was completed:

FINAL RESULTS
REUNION EXPENSES…………………….$9006.50

COLLECTED………………………………….. 8055.00

SHORTFALL……………………………….. – $ 951.50

DUES COLLECTED………………………. $1625.00

CHECKBOOK BALANCE ,,,,,,,,.,,,,,,,,,,$5507.52

June Robbins gave an overview of website development and encouraged everyone present to provide feedback to help make it serve the organization’s needs.

Director Farias next conducted the election of officers for the upcoming two-year term.

New officers were nominated from the floor and elected consistent with the organization’s By-Laws.

Director, Louis Brown
Treasurer, Warren Dubois
Historian, Stephen Johnson
Secretary/Roster Keeper, Charles Bruckerhoff
Webmaster, June Robbins
Members at Large: Phil Douglas, Bob Powers, Leo Farias, Don Rusbult, and Ted Bolton.

Leo Farias asked the members present to recommend locations for the 2019 reunion, with the suggestion that the next reunion be held east of the Mississippi River. Different members recommended several cities. By a show of hands, Williamsburg, VA was selected for the 2019 reunion and there was consensus on continuing to hold the reunion on or about first week in October. (Later after the reunion, Harley Brinkley notified the Secretary that he would be working on the 2019 Reunion in Williamsburg, VA.)

The Director acknowledged the great amount of work done by Michelle Hopkins, daughter of Rich Hopkins (deceased), for this reunion and asked members to consider her continuing to work for the organization. Motion was made to make Michelle Hopkins an Honorary Member of the Association. Seconded and unanimously approved.

Additionally, the members agreed that all widows would be declared Honorary Members of the Association.

There was recognition of all members of the association who had passed since the 2015 reunion.

Director Farias reminded all members and guests that group dinners had been arranged for this evening and he invited everyone to make their selections as early as possible.

At the end of the meeting there were two presentations from active military personnel at Fort Carson on the mission and operations of the modern U.S. Army.

Meeting adjourned at 10:00 a.m.

Saturday, October 7

Charter bus (55 passenger) tour to the Center of American Values in Pueblo, Colorado departed at 9:00 a.m. and returned at 2:00 p.m. The tour included a visit and presentation at the museum with portraits and documentation of more than 140 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and a guided walking tour of the Pueblo Riverwalk to the Convention Center. Lunch was at the Riverwalk.

Group photo session was conducted at 6:00 p.m. in front of the hotel.

The grand banquet began at 7:00 p.m.

The 52nd Bde Engr Battalion Color Guard posted the flags, Pledge of Allegiance was led by Leo Farias, Specialist Winslow of the 4th Inf Div Band sang the National Anthem, and Louis Brown offered the Opening Prayer.

Leo Farias gave an opening statement recognizing and thanking everyone in attendance.

Dinner was served in a self-serve fashion, table-by-table.

LTC Brian Brobeck, Commander of the 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion at Fort Carson, was the keynote speaker. His presentation highlighted current events within the military engineers and provided a brief look ahead for the Engineer Battalions.

Leo Farias recognized Michelle Hopkins for her assistance with the 2017 reunion.

While attending the Association’s 2015 reunion in San Antonio, Michelle’s father, Rich Hopkins and mother, Kathy, had offered Michelle’s services to assist with planning and onsite coordination for the next reunion in Colorado Springs. The reunion was a tremendous success due largely to Michelle’s work with the Commanding General at Fort Carson and also her experience and skills with event planning and operations.

Michelle Hopkins presented a tribute to her father, Rich Hopkins. Rich passed away from complications from Agent Orange several months after the 2015 reunion.

Leo Farias thanked Fred Webb for his assistance with the 2017 reunion. Fred has had experience with coordination of many reunions of various units that he served in and assisted the Director for this 2017 reunion of the Association.

Anna Shaper, daughter of Victor Garcia, gave a statement and read a poem, titled “The Brotherhood,” commemorating the sacrifices of soldiers who served in the Vietnam War.

Color Guard retired the Colors and was dismissed.

Louis Brown closed the meeting with a prayer.

Banquet adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Closing Meeting – October 8, 2017

Leo Farias opened the meeting at 9:00 a.m.

The outgoing Director congratulated the newly elected Director, Louis Brown, other officers and members at large.

Louis Brown assumed responsibility for the meeting.

Louis Brown congratulated all newly elected officers, thanked Leo Farias and the outgoing officers and members at large for their work, and pledged to move the Association forward by following the by-laws, holding periodic meetings (with use of Internet), maintaining communications with the members, and lining up volunteers and setting up operations for a successful 2019 reunion.

There was a discussion of the organization’s priorities for the next two years in preparation for the 2019 reunion.

Upgrades were recommended to the Association’s current communications systems for best use of technology and also in recognition of the fact that members have various levels of technology use.

The Secretary/roster keeper will work to improve documentation on all members’ records in the roster. Additionally, at the 2019 reunion, the registration system will be upgraded with technology and streamlined in order to facilitate efficient processing of all attending members.

Recommendation was made to distribute John Frye’s narrative to all members, and especially to new members at registration.

Recommendation was made to distribute Anna Shaper’s poem to the members and post on the website.

Recommendation was made to solicit stories from all members about their experiences in the 31st before, during and after service in Vietnam.

Recommendation was made that Bob Brooks be sent a note of thanks from the Association for his work on the caps and shirts.

Meeting adjourned at 10:00 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Charles Bruckerhoff
Secretary

(Minutes revised: 11/1/2017)
1

Final Message From Leo Farias 2015-17 Association Executive Director

31st Engineer Battalion (CBT) Association

Web address: 31stengineerbattalion.com

November 12, 2017

Fellow Vets and Association Family,

This is my last communication as the Association Director (2015-2017) and is to provide summary closure on our recent reunion, heads-up on our next reunion, and information on new Association Officers.

The fifth reunion of the 31st Engineer Battalion Association was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado on October 5-8, 2017. The consensus of those attending seemed to be that it was, once again, a successful event. Our reunions are the forum for the rekindling of brotherhood, a means for our veterans to stay connected after all these years, sharing stories and photos, and promoting fellowship amongst us and our families. A gauge of success was attendance, i.e., about 60 of our veterans made it and 130 were at our Saturday evening banquet. My thanks to those of you who came and a word to those who didn’t, you missed a good one. Let’s keep it going two years from now, 2019, in Williamsburg, Va.

The attached Minutes provided by newly elected Secretary Charles Bruckerhoff summarize meetings and key events of the reunion. Group activities included three meetings, group of about 50 eating at the Edelweiss German Restaurant on Friday evening, a charter bus tour (capacity 55) to the Center of American Values (highlight of Medal of Honor recipients) in Pueblo, the group photos, and the Grand Banquet on Saturday evening. The Colorado Springs area provided many attractions for individual and small group enjoyment.

Thanks to everybody involved in reunion tasks. Every individual called upon to help did so willingly without hesitation. The main tasks showing the lead person were: Hotel Recon (Johnny Gonzales); Registration (Paul Sharp); Audio Visual (Louis Brown); Banquet (Jay Fulfer); Missing Man Table (Ed Willis & Steve Weakley); Hospitality Suite (Leo Neely); Photography and Name Tags (Charles Bruckerhoff); Bus Tour (Chuck Wilson); Caps and Shirts (Bob Brooks); Treasurer (Warren DuBois); and Webmaster (June Robbins). The Minutes contain my comments on the fantastic contributions by Michele Hopkins, daughter of Rich and Kathy Hopkins, and our own Fred Webb. By letter we thanked keynote speaker LTC Brian Brobeck of the 52nd Bde Engr Bn, his Color Guard people, and the 4th Inf Div Band Singer for their participation in our banquet. Named or not, thanks to all who contributed.

New officers elected for a two-year period starting October 8, 2017 are listed in the Minutes. The new Association Director is Louis Brown who served as our Commo Officer in HHC. He will be imparting information and guidance in the near future. Key contact email addresses for you at this time are: Louis Brown, louis.brown66@gmail.com; June Robbins, Webmaster, junekeywest@yahoo.com; Warren DuBois, Treasurer (membership and payment of dues), duboisw@embarqmail.com; Charles Bruckerhoff, Secretary (roster development), charles@creus.com.

For your information and advance planning, Williamsburg, Virginia was selected as the site for the 2019 reunion. Discussions focused on having the reunion in the early part, usually first week of, October. However, details and specifics will be provided by our Association Director. Harley Brinkley has volunteered to work on the Reunion on behalf of the Association.

Please keep in mind that our website 31stengineerbattalion.com is available for viewing, getting updates on reunion planning, posting articles and photos, etc. As you know, June Robbins, daughter of departed buddy John Frye, is our Webmaster. She is doing a commendable job, continues to improve the website, and we appreciate her.

Also attached is a list of names of our people who passed away between the October 2015 and October 2017 reunions. If you know of anybody else, please notify Charles Bruckerhoff. We will remember our lost brothers and sisters. May they rest in peace.

Thanks for allowing me to serve as your Association Director the past two years. I will now be serving as one of five Board of Directors/Members at Large of the Association and will be available to assist in any way called upon. I simply encourage all to continue to stay connected, to join in if you have not participated in our reunions, and to reach out and help find others to add to our ranks.

With the Holidays coming up, a Happy Thanksgiving and a Christmas Blessing to all. Join me in giving thanks for the gift of family, love, and continued friendship within our 31st Engineer Battalion family. Looking forward to seeing you in Williamsburg.

Sincerely,

Leonel (Leo) Farias
Association Director (2015-2017)

2 Attachments: (will appear in next two posts)
1. Minutes of 2017 Reunion
2. List of Members/Spouses Lost Between Oct. 2015 and Oct. 2017

Play Golf While You’re at the 2017 Colorado Springs Reunion

Message from Harley Brinkley:

Jim Brick and I have a tee time at The Broadmoor Golf Club at 9:30AM on Thursday, October 5th, under my name.  The Director of Golf waved the residence rule to play.  Two or Three years ago Patricia and I stayed at the Broadmoor just so I could play golf, but the rains in Colorado were causing floods and mud slides everywhere. I could not play due to the water on the course.

If anyone would like to play with us, please contact us. You can check The Broadmoor web site for prices, etc.

Harley

Harley L. Brinkley
LTC, EN (Retired)
9416 E. 117th Street So.
Bixby,OK 74008
Email: hlbrinkley@cox.net
Cell: (918) 859-7362

2017 Reunion Message from Leo Farias, Executive Director

31stEngBtln2011Reunion group pics 013Fellow Vets,
Reunion in Colorado Springs is fast approaching. If you have not made your reservations at the Elegante, please do so immediately. Cutoff date on the discounted rate is August 18, six days from today. See attached memo for more information on this and other items related to our reunion.
I encourage you to make the reunion if possible. The next one is two years away, 2019, and we’re not getting any younger or healthier. Let’s keep getting together as long we can to continue to share our stories on our time together and since then.
Our 31st Engineer Reunions have been as follows:
2009-Nashville
2011-Branson
2013-Las Vegas
2015-San Antonio
2017-Colorado Springs
At our reunion, we will be entertaining suggestions and deciding on the 2019 reunion site. Be thinking about where you would recommend we go, the benefits and attractions of the place, transportation (airport), etc. The idea of a host couple proximate to the location is always beneficial to the planning. We’ve had a couple of calls for somewhere in the mid-west or somewhere east of the Mississippi in fairness to our folks in the eastern part of the U.S. I have been contacted with an .of interest by the Visitors Bureau for the Fort Jackson area.
Received a text message from our buddy Elliot Mock. He was our Bn Maintenance NCO promoted to WO in Black Horse and has had a perfect attendance to our reunions. He has cancelled out of Colorado Springs having had a heart attack in March and during recovery had an aneurysm in his left aorta artery in July He says to “give my very best to all our veteran brothers”. Let us each offer our prayers for Eliot’s full recovery and that he is able to resume his with us in our reunions. His phone number is (601) 870-6148.
Regards to all,
Leo Farias
Attachment:
August 12, 2017
MEMORANDUM TO: Fellow Veterans of the 31st Engineer Battalion, Vietnam
FROM: Leo Farias, Executive Director, 31st Engineer Battalion Association
SUBJECT: Reunion Information
REUNION DATES AND PLACE: 5-8 October 2017, Colorado Springs, CO., Hotel Elegante
HOTEL RESERVATIONS. If you haven’t made your reservations and are planning to attend, make them now. For reservations call the Elegante at 800-981-4012 and mention you are with the 31st Engineer Battalion Reunion. Cut off date on the discounted rate is August 18, 2017 after which date rooms will be released to the public and may or may not be available. If you are not sure, you may make your reservation anyway since cancellation can be done no later than 24 hours prior to date of arrival to avoid a cancellation fee of first night’s charge and tax.
HOW IT’S SHAPING UP.
Room Reservations. Looking good at this point. As of a few days ago, 47 rooms (of the 65-room block being held for our reunion) had been reserved. As mentioned above, please take action now if you are planning to attend.
Banquet Reservations. The contract calls for advance Guaranteed Attendance to the Elegante. Please make your banquet reservations now, soon, but no later than September 22, 2017. Please refrain from showing up without notifying us on your banquet need and submitting payment. Cost of banquet is $45 per person. Make checks payable to: 31st Engineer Battalion Association, and mail to Warren DuBois, 906 W. Virginia Ave., Salem, MO. 65560.
Reunion Tasks. We are fortunate that volunteers in our midst and even relatives/friends of our members have stepped up to the plate to help. If called upon, avail yourself. Some of the tasks, just to mention a few are: Hotel recon, selection, and banquet coordination; Color Guard and speakers; Hospitality Room; audio-visual; sign-in; Missing Man Table; name tags, shirts and caps, info on local attractions; etc. There is much to be done between now and reunion dates.
Membership Dues. $25 for 2017-2018 (2 yrs) due now or at the reunion. Make checks payable to 31st Engineer Battalion Assoc., mail to Warren DuBois at afore-mentioned address.
Battalion Website. Google or go to website directly….31stengineerbattalion.com. “A site to behold”, words from good friend Fred Webb. Much information on our history, past and current posts, reunion information, information on Colorado Springs, etc. Webmaster June Robbins has done a fantastic job. Thanks, June. Her email: junekeywest@yahoo.com

Colorado Springs 2017 Reunion Is Fast Approaching

Fellow Vets,

A reminder that our reunion in Colorado Springs, 5-8 Oct. 2017, is fast approaching. As we announced in the December 2016 invitation, this is an opportunity for veterans of the 31st to “reunite, rekindle the bond of brotherhood and the stories of our service together and enjoy the tourist attractions and spectacular beauty of scenic Colorado Springs”.  Those of you planning to attend, make your reservations at the Elegante Hotel not later than 18 Augustby calling 800-981-4012 (mention 31st Engineer Association Reunion).
Our banquet will be Saturday evening at a cost of $45 person.  You need to make your reservations in advance by making checks payable to : 31st CBT ENGR BN ASSN. Mail to Warren DeBois, 906 W. Virginia Ave., Salem, MO. 65560,  Additionally, membership dues of $25 for 2017-2018 (2 yrs) are payable to Warren, unless it is your preference to take care of this at the reunion.
Hope to see many of you at the reunion.
Sincerely,
Leo Farias
Association Director

Stephen Johnson reaching out to former members of B Company, 31st Combat Engineer Battalion, Vietnam

Dear fellow Vietnam Vets,

No doubt you and I, and all the men of the 31st  share a brotherhood, and a special bond based on our experiences, our accomplishments, and our service to country during one of the most turbulent periods in modern American history. As our 2017 Reunion draws near, I am reaching out to former members of B Company, 31st Combat Engineer Battalion, Vietnam.

In 1968 during the Battalion’s first year of deployment to Vietnam, Camden McConnell and I each served in succession as Company Commander. In friendship, Camden and I respectfully encourage your attendance and participation in the 2017 Reunion, October 5-8, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The location is Hotel Elegante Conference and Event Center, 2886 South Circle Drive, Colorado Springs, 80906 or on-line www.hotelelegante.com. If you know of others who served with you and might be interested in attending the Reunion, please reach out to them or contact me and I’ll do everything I can to connect with them. Other points of contact are Leo Farias, Director, 31st Combat Engineer Battalion Association, (361) 815-7749. Leo is overseeing the 2017 Reunion and has planned an attractive program of events and accommodations.

One other point of information: PBS (public television) will broadcast a documentary about the Vietnam War on affiliated stations across the country in mid-September. Filmmaker Ken Burns has produced many notable and award-winning documentaries. Two of his most significant are “The Civil War,” and “Baseball” – both were well-researched, and presented the perspectives of the common man.  As a former member of the board of directors of PBS in northern California, I conveyed my views to Mr. Burns and his team last year. In response, his team asked for a couple of images of the men of the  31st in a noncombat setting. They are attached to this email. I don’t know if they will be used or not in the film or in promotional materials, but I wanted you to see them. I believe the pictures were taken around April-May ’68.The location is Black Horse Base Camp, Xuan Loc, headquarters of the 31st  and the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment. You may recognize some of these men.

In closing, I hope you hold your service and your memories as dear as I do.

I look forward to seeing you in October.

Best Regards,

Stephen L. Johnson

303.953.2574

415.320.2295  Cell

stephenljohnson@netzero.net

Charlie Company’s Action in Cambodia Earned Citation For Valor

Submitted by John Lough, in honor of all those Engineers who served and supported the Cambodian mission from headquarters to the front line.
The Cambodian Incursion in May and June 1970 was one of the largest combat operations of the Vietnam War. President Nixon sent 32,000 soldiers, including engineers of the 20th Brigade.
 
engineers-clear-bridge-cambodia-john-lough
Engineers prepare explosives to clear the twisted wreckage of a blown bridge, Cambodia 1970

Twenty six men of Company C 31st Combat Engineer Battalion became the first engineers to reach Cambodian soil on May 5th.  A bridge destroyed by a stunned and retreating enemy kept the 11th Armored Cav. from encircling the enemy sanctuary. After combat assaulting with the 11th ACR into the dense jungle, they were able to clear the mangled bridge away.

engineers-thrust-into-cambodia-j-lough
Army engineers work on a bridge in Cambodia, 1970

The first of a three bridge section assembled in Quan Loi by the 79th Engineer Company was brought in by Sky Crane to be wrestled into position by Charlie Company Engineers.

While the road to Memot was inching its way forward, other engineers including Charlie Company were building their way to Snoul chasing the NVA back toward their headquarters. Then the word was received that “The City” had been found. Company C 31st Engineer Bn and 557th Engineers were dispatched to begin ripping a trail while under enemy fire to “The City” and “Rock Island East” then began removing tons and tons of NVA supplies, destroying what was left.

1970 Cambodia, 31st Engineer Battalion
1970 Cambodia, 31st Engineer Battalion

Many Engineers were killed or wounded during this operation. For their action, Charlie Company 31st Combat Engineers was awarded a Citation for Valor.

Editor’s note:

John Lough served with the 31st Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Army) and was wounded during the Cambodian Incursion in 1970. He is a Purple Heart recipient.

If you served with the 31st Engineer Battalion and have an experience to you’d like to share, please email the editor. Thank you.

Submitted stories are not verified for historical accuracy; they are personal accounts as told by those who experienced them. Comments are welcome.

 

 

2017 Reunion Message from Association Director Leo Farias

Fellow Vets/Association Members,

In mid-October I provided the Initial Notice for 31st Engineer Battalion 2017 Reunion which was a heads-up on our next reunion to be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 5-8 October 2017. My main goal then was to give you the opportunity to start your planning early and to give you the information needed to make your reservations at the reunion site, the Hotel Elegante Conference and Event Center.  Some of you have already made your reservations…that is appreciated.  Please note in the Invitation details that you must make your room reservations NLT 18 August 2017 in order to obtain the group rate(s).
For your information and planning I’ve included a three-page invitation package which consists of:  1) The Invitation; 2) the Draft Agenda; and 3) Additional Information supplementary to the Invitation and the Agenda.  Soon I will be contacting some of you, unless you volunteer first, to help plan/coordinate/perhaps oversee any of the following:  Registration, Hospitality Room operation, the proposed Friday evening Dinner Group outing, the Banquet, etc.  Charles Bruckerhoff will again be doing Group Photos.  The Agenda is a draft, so please study it carefully.  If you have any suggestions, ideas to improve our reunion, or any questions, let me know.
In mid-October I had several Mail Delivery Failures and have deleted the following from this group send:  Don Fleming, Greg Jennings, Lee Pelton, William Stockinger, Marty Salmonson, Charles “Wes” Slaughter, Maynard D. Copeland, and Alvin D. Spiker.  If anybody knows anyone listed, please help get them back in the loop for our reunion and communications.  Also, we have a battalion roster (also broken down by company) of our people who did not/may not have email.  The following group will be reaching out to find/contact them:  HHC- myself; A Co-Don Rusbult & Bob Mackey; B Co-Stephen Johnson & Cam McConnell; C Co-Fred Webb; D Co-Tony Janairo & Chuck Moseley.  Email addresses for these contact persons can be found at the To: listing for this email.
For your information, it is sad to report the following losses since our 2015 reunion: HHC-John Frye, Maint. Warrant, HHC Maurice Modisette, George Ingram, and Linda Willis (wife of Ed Willis); C Co-Rich Hopkins, Dave Young, Doyle Dietsch, and Robert Solvedt; and D Co-Al “Sarge” Sandlin.  Pray for the repose of their souls and may they RIP.
We will keep you posted on matters of importance between now and our reunion. Also, be aware that our website 31stengineerbattalion.com is available for viewing, getting updates on the reunion, seeing photos, and posting.  June Robbins, our Webmaster, is doing a commendable job.  We appreciate her.
A Christmas Blessing to all.  Let us give thanks for the gift of family, love, and our continued friendship within the 31st. Wishing you good health and looking forward to seeing you in Colorado.
Sincerely,
Leonel (Leo) Farias
Association Director