C.J. "Skip" Rittenhouse Removal from KWVA
Rittenhouse letter to Executive Council - 3/28/2001
About Skip Rittenhouse – His Words
Letter from Sherman Pratt to Lynnita Brown
Voicing His Opinion – Rittenhouse Speaks Out
C.J. "Skip" Rittenhouse is one of the original veterans (member #00022) who
founded the KWVA in 1985. He was elected as a member of the Executive Council in 1997. One year later, the
current president, Harley Coon, took over. Rittenhouse was removed from office in March of 2001 under the
charge of having a "poor attendance record". His removal took place by vote of the general membership on
March 24, 2001, in Tuscola, Illinois.
An excerpt from the minutes of the General Membership Meeting, March 24, 2001,
states, "The question of C.J. Rittenhouse missing scheduled meetings was addressed. A motion by Jerry Quinn
#R) 25720 from Illinois to remove C.J. Rittenhouse from the Executive Council for violation of the by-laws
Article III section 3, paragraph C subsection D. Second was made. President Coon then asked for discussion.
Judge Advocate Pratt explained the Article III. A vote was taken 120 yes in favor of motion to remove C.J.
Rittenhouse from office. National Director Danielson abstained. A motion by George Pempek LR08739, President
Department of Illinois that Larry McKinniss Membership #RO15874 be appointed to fill the vacant seat of C.J.
Rittenhouse for the remaining two (2) years and that George Bingham Membership #LP00178 be appointed to fill
the unexpired term of one (1) year of Oreste Tramonte. President Coon asked for discussion. There being none
a vote was taken. Vote 120 yes and director Danielson voted no. President Coon then administered the oath of
office to Larry McKinniss and George Bingham. The General Membership was adjourned at 12:15 p.m. CST."
According to Skip Rittenhouse, during the three years that he served on the
board, he had missed two non-consecutive meetings due to personal business within his community. For
example, on the meeting date on July 27, 1998, Rittenhouse (state president of the KWVA at the time) was a
speaker in Piqua, Ohio on July 27. "All other meetings were attended at my own expense," Rittenhouse told
the Korean War Educator, "including St. Louis. I gave written notice more than 30 days in advance that I
would not attend the meeting in Tuscola, Illinois. I paid all my expenses to every meeting but one." Because
a quorum was not present in Tuscola, bylaws forbade the board to conduct any official business. Coon,
however, proceeded with the removal of Rittenhouse on the absentee charge.
Rittenhouse letter to members of Executive Council, March 28, 2001
To: Members of the executive council
And other interested parties
From Skip Rittenhouse
Today I rejected a piece of registered mail from the president of the KWVA. This action was based on the
presumption that it was my notice of having been dismissed as a director by a vote of the group which
assembled in Tuscola IL. Recently.
I am led to believe that there was no meeting of the directors because of a lack of a quorum and I know
that a month earlier, the membership meeting set for that date was adjudged by the judge advocate to be
"illegal" due to a lack of proper notice to non-chapter affiliated members.
The dismissal I am told was based on my poor attendance. I cite the following:
- July 1997 Albuquerque, NM present (sworn in)
- Nov 1997 Tysons Corner, VA present
- March 1998 Tysons Corner VA present
- July 1998 Arlington, VA absent
- Nov 1998 Absecon City NJ present
- April 1999 Mobile, AL present
- Sept 1999 Mobile, AL present
- Jan 2000 Orlando FL cancelled (see note 1)
- March 2000 Arlington, VA present
- July 2000 Arlington, VA absent
End of first term (two absences)
Oct 2000 St Louis, MO present (see note 2)
Feb 2001 Arlington, VA present
March 2001 Tuscola, IL no meeting (quorum lacking)
Note 1 Orlando meeting was arranged but president persuaded 2 directors to withdraw support. I had arranged
meeting and would have attended.
Note 2 President did not attend, nine directors did.
Do you feel that this attendance is so poor as to warrant dismissal? It might be worth noting that except
for the March 2000 meeting, all directors paid all their own expenses to attend each meeting.
I treat the authority of the Tuscola "social gathering" with the same contempt that the president
displays for the St. Louis meeting which nine bona fide directors attended. (This total exceeded the quorum
demand of the by-laws.)
I feel it is time for the executive council to demonstrate some testicular fortitude and take a more
active role in the governance of the KWVA.
About Skip Rittenhouse - His Words
I always considered myself the consummate citizen soldier. At no time did I lose sight of the day when I
would return to Ohio State and finish the last year of my degree. Having said that, I also feel I served
enthusiastically and tried to do my best while in the service.
Upon induction into the Army in September 1952, I took my basic and tech training at Aberdeen Proving
Ground. I was sent overseas in June of 1953, where I was assigned to the 707 Ordnance Battalion of the 7th
Infantry Division. The armament section attached to the service company of the 32nd regiment, and was as far
forward as ordnance went. I earned combat pay by going up to the line every day before the cease-fire. I was
only there for a month before the shooting stopped, but it was quite a month. In my platoon, three men
received Bronze Stars and one a Silver Star. All of the awards were for valor during the July "Battle for
Pork Chop Hill".
I came home, finished my degree, went to work, and like so many of us of the Silent Generation, put Korea
in the back of my mind--that is, until I saw an article complete with picture of a K-vet at Arlington
Cemetery laying a flower on a grave. The article stated that there would be a wreath placed on the Tomb of
the Unknown from the Korean War two days from that time. In that moment, I decided that I had to be there.
After the ceremony, I was approached by Stan Hadden, who asked if I was going back to the hotel. I knew
nothing about that, but did go, and met the others who had assembled. There was no KWVA at that time--only a
yellow legal pad for us to sign in. I suspect that Stan's name was on the 15th line and mine was on the
22nd, hence our membership numbers.
I attended the second year, but missed the 1987 session. At about that time, personal tragedy caused me
to put all other things out of my mind until the birth of my first grandchild in October 1994. Then is when
I seemed to come back to life, and I attended a state meeting that month. That is when I first met our
president-for-life, Harley J. Coon. He had to be pointed out to me. Later, he presided over the meeting. I
think he asked me if I wanted to start a chapter in Columbus. At any rate, he was a big help in my forming
the Central Ohio Chapter of the KWVA.
Since I had entered the service from Cincinnati, I thought I should start a chapter there too. Again,
Harley Coon was right there to assist in any way he could. After that, he and I formed chapters in
Portsmouth, Marion, Toledo, Youngstown, Akron, Mansfield, Logan, and Findlay. The last three were pretty
much my doing.
When he announced for the national presidency, I asked him if he was going to relinquish the state chair.
If he was, I desired the job. He never replied, but at a national meeting, a third party told me if I wanted
the job I had better campaign for it, because Harley did not want me to win. The vote was by chapter
representation, and "my" chapters were loyal to me, so I won by one vote. Upon hearing that his man (our
current national secretary) had lost, Coon put down the gavel, and deserted the chair. I had to close the
meeting, even though I was not to take office until the first of the next month.
In 1996, I wanted to run for director, but since Coon was on the ballot, I
deferred one year. After my election to the state office, our relationship turned chilly and grew worse.
After Harley became president and he ousted treasurer Jim Martin at his first meeting, we became implacable
enemies. I thought the move was underhanded. Jim Martin had been Pappas's right hand as the two of them dug
us out of the hole Maison had put us in. That was the first of many times I would oppose him. This ardent
opposition is what made me so touchy when Stan Hadden accused the board (presumably including me) of
allowing this mess to happen. I yield to no one in my opposition to this man, and I think I know him far
better than most.
Letter from Sherman Pratt to Lynnita Brown
September 23, 2003
When KWVA Judge Advocate Sherman Pratt was asked by Lynnita Brown whether or not he had made some sort of
ruling on the removal of Skip Rittenhouse as a director of the KWVA, Pratt replied, "Lynnita - No ruling on
Skip removal from council - not called on to do so. I was a bit troubled by the procedure followed - and
wrote him a letter reminding him that he could request reconsideration--but received no reply. I think he
was quite bitter about the whole matter. He was removed mainly on charges by Harley that he had missed
meetings - but I thought the
evidence was somewhat blurred. My relations with him I felt had been cordial enough - and I bore him no ill
will. a bit outspoken and perhaps abrasive chap in the view of some - but dedicated and well meaning. -
Voicing His Opinion - Rittenhouse Speaks Out:
September 16, 2003 - "The St. Louis meeting in October 2000 absolved all those who attended of any
responsibility for anything that followed. The meeting of the nine directors (plus Pappas) did what they
were supposed to do. Meticulous minutes were taken and made available to the publication. (These minutes are
available on request. Every vote of every director is recorded.) So when anyone starts pointing fingers they
should point at those who invalidated (that’s a word?) this meeting which clearly indicates that the
directors did move to curb executive power at this LEGAL meeting."
September 17, 2003 - "I missed the July 1998 meeting (I did attend
Western Ohio Chapter festivities that day, which can be verified). I missed the July 2000 meeting. I gave
written notice more than 30 days in advance that I would not attend the Tuscola meeting. This meeting never
took place because of no quorum. All other meetings were attended at my own expense including St. Louis
2000. President did not. Let me say this as clearly as I can. Anyone who claims I missed any other meetings
is telling a lie."
September 26, 2003 - "I always smile when I hear our
fearless leader cite some source of righteousness such as ‘the membership’, ‘the directors’ or ‘the
by-laws.’ Of the three, it is always the one which agrees with him that is correct. In the too many meetings
of his which I have attended I have never noticed his having any respect for, or even a working knowledge
of, what parliamentary procedure is all about. Has anyone ever attended a meeting at which he called for new
business? When he gets to his last agenda item he gives the signal and one of his stoo – oops I mean one of
the directors calls for adjournment.
To me the most flagrant violation was the time I made a Motion of Priviledge which was duly seconded. He
swept it aside by saying the matter would be covered later. The matter involved filling a vacant director’s
seat. The parliamentarian never blinked. Get out your Robert’s Rules of Order and look up what it says about
a privileged motion which involves procedure.
His dismissal of a judge advocate’s ruling as mere advice is a case in point. When
the J/A (as parliamentarian) rules he (the J/A) is not exercising his own personal power, he is telling the
executive that he is violating the by-laws he swore to follow. This is not advice. In a well-run
organization it is law. The parliamentarian has been remiss in not pointing this out. It is my opinion
that the KWVA more closely resembles a street gang than a democratic entity."
September 27, 2003 - [In response to the KWE’s
question: Skip, were there particular reasons why you couldn't attend the July 1998 and July 2000 meetings
in Arlington? (I know you don't have to justify why not. Just curious. - LB] -
"In both cases I had personal business which demanded I stay in town. In 1998 I
was able to be a speaker in Piqua, Ohio on July 27 (I was state president at the time and have a video of
it) and get back the same day. So on that date I was serving without really going out of town.
In any case I was not absent three times and the absences were two years apart. On top of that, shouldn’t
a founding member be cut a little slack?
The only way I can come up with three consecutive would be to figure that maybe my
attending meetings he didn’t attend (Oct 2000), didn’t call (Feb 2001) and not attending a third that did
not receive a quorum (March 2001) adds up to three consecutive meetings. If you put the actual absence of
July 2000 in front of those three it makes four."
September 27, 2003 - "Just a few months later [refering to the Tuscola
meeting] Pratt told Kuhn that the director’s meeting in Tuscola could not be expanded to include a
membership meeting because the notice had not been published in the magazine and thus the membership at
large was not notified. That’s not an allegation. It’s a fact.
See what I mean about the selective use of authority? The St. Louis meeting was not valid because of an
alleged failure to notify and the Tuscola meeting was—even though the failure to notify is actual."