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April 2016 Newsletter

Vol 3, Issue 3

Ted’s Talk

Ted onlyThere are SO many cities that make great destinations for Navy reunions. Clearly, sailors like to return to old ports-of-call like Norfolk, San Diego, Jacksonville, Groton, and Charleston. To relive the days of basic training old salts return to NTC San Diego. But the Navy has only one location for boot camp: The Great Lakes Naval Training Center, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. This happens to be Lake County, IL – our Top Reunion Destination of the Month. Here you will find great hotels with very friendly rates; it’s a short ride back in time as you witness a parade of fresh recruits on graduation day at NTC Great Lakes. This month’s Reunion Specialist is Vicky Parad, Sales Manager for the Hyatt Deerfield – a great reunion hotel in Lake County.

We’ve been guiding Navy reunions to great destinations for nearly 30 years.  AFR is truly the Plank Owner of Navy Reunion Planning. Picking a good city for Navy reunions is easy, as there are so many to choose from. A list of cities with naval ship museums is too numerous for this column but there are a few standouts: Patriot’s Point in Charleston, Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA (Providence), USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, USS New Jersey in Philly, USS Little Rock and the USS The Sullivans in Buffalo, USS Alabama in Mobile, USS Kidd in Baton Rouge, USS Midway in San Diego, and the USS Turner Joy in Bremerton. There are many others and Armed Forces Reunions will guide you to a great reunion destination with reunion-friendly rates, as we’ve been doing for almost 30 years! To peruse a list of our nation’s museum ships go to the website: http://navysite.de/specials/museumships.htm

A very special Navy group to AFR staff is the USS Canberra Reunion Association. We’ve planned every annual reunion since Baltimore’s 1989 event. There’s hardly a city of interest to a sailor that we haven’t planned a Canberra reunion in. This month our Featured Veteran is Ron Nullet, Secretary for the USS Canberra Reunion Association. Aside from serving aboard the guided missile cruiser (a converted heavy cruiser), Ron was an eyewitness to the World Trade Center’s devastation on 9/11. Fair Winds and Following Seas!


DESTINATION OF THE MONTH: LAKE COUNTY

Looking to enhance the enjoyment and prominence of your next reunion? Consider beautiful Lake County, Illinois. Located just north of Chicago – and easily accessible from nearby airports – Lake County is one of the Midwest’s premier destinations, with world-class attractions, scenic locations and relaxing venues. And with over 60 reunion-friendly hotels – ranging from three hotel-resorts to top-rated hotel chains – you’re sure to find the perfect option for any budget.

As the home of Great Lakes Naval Training Station, the largest naval training center in the U.S., Lake County, Illinois provides the perfect military reunion setting. For over 100 years, we’ve been welcoming veterans for work and play. We can arrange for your group to tour the base, attend a graduation ceremony, break bread at the Port O’Call overlooking Lake Michigan, and visit the Great Lakes Naval Museum. Take a tour of nearby, historic Fort Sheridan or experience the Volo Auto Museum’s Combat Zone military exhibit, featuring rare military equipment and hardware.

Enjoy a tram ride through the spectacular grounds of the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Shop for provisions along the cobblestone lanes of Long Grove Historic Village. Spend the evening enjoying a live musical or theatrical performance at the Marriott Theatre, Genesee Theatre or Ravinia Festival. And if you’re looking for a boating adventure, Waukegan Harbor on Lake Michigan has one of the finest charter fishing fleets on the Great Lakes.

If the Windy City is in your plans, Chicago’s world-renowned attractions are just a short train or bus ride away. Visit the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Stop at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, to pay homage at the many military memorials on the site – including the 250-foot long Memorial Water Wall. Take an architectural cruise departing from historic Navy Pier. And visit the WWII German U-Boat U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry. At night, enjoy yourself at the Roaring Twenties-style speakeasy and cabaret, Tommy Gunn’s Garage.

Our professional reunion specialist will make it easy to put on truly successful reunion of any size. We’ll work side-by-side with you every step of the way:

  • Coordinating site visits
  • Developing a customized itinerary to excite and entertain your attendees
  • Coordinating transportation, entertainment, recreation and other excursions
  • Providing support amenities, including complementary welcome bags and group giveaways

 


MEET OUR FEATURED VETERAN: RON NULLET

The USS Canberra CAG-2, a heavy cruiser seeing action in WWII and converted into a guided missile cruiser, was sent on a world tour in 1960 to showcase America’s military prowess. Ron Nullet served as a fireman apprentice on the 18-month deployment, calling on ports throughout the Mediterranean, Australia and the Pacific. Along with 1,500 crewmembers, Nullet was enjoying a peacetime journey on one of the Navy’s finest flagships. “Shore liberty was quite a time in some remarkable places,” said Nullet, 74. “We saw and did a lot.”

Sun and fun soon changed as the Cold War heated up and the Canberra was ordered to the Caribbean at the onset of the Cuban Missile Crisis. “We were part of the blockade and went into DEFCON 1,” Nullet said. “We were damn nervous about fingers on red buttons, and the very real prospect of total war with nothing left. I was transferred stateside before it was resolved and the Canberra helped escort the Soviet ships out of our hemisphere.” Following the missile crisis the vessel did tours in the Mediterranean with NATO and served for five years in Vietnam, playing a large role against the Tet Offensive. She was decommissioned in 1970 and sold for scrap.

The USS Canberra CA-70 was named after the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, which was rendered inoperable in 1942 by the Japanese at the Battle of Savo Island, subsequently evacuated, and sunk by American destroyers. To honor the ship, the USS Canberra CA-70 was launched in 1943 and is the only American warship named for a foreign capital city. Badly damaged by the Japanese in a Kamikaze aerial torpedo strike on Friday 13, 1944, the CA-70 taken in tow by USS Wichita, retiring toward Ulithi and arriving 27 October, two weeks from the day she was hit. The cruiser was towed to Manus for temporary repairs, and departed for permanent repairs at Boston Navy Yard. She was decommissioned on 6 July 1946 at Mare Island Naval Ship Yard and converted into a guided missile cruiser and recommissioned in ‘56 as the CAG-2. USS Canberra Torpedo Attack

Leaving the Navy as a Shipfitter Pipe 3rd Class in the early 1960s, Nullet took skills he learned on board to work for Shipfitters, Local Union # 638 in New York. Three decades later he reconnected with shipmates after reading about the USS Canberra Reunion Association. He joined, attended a reunion in 1992 and became secretary in 1996, a post he still holds. Their reunions have been managed since 1989 by Armed Forces Reunions, with the next reunion in Portland, Maine in October.

“We have more than 3,000 members and at least 90 percent of us are CAG-2 guys, with about 37 World War II vets,” Nullet said. “The reunions are always happy times. I see a lot of guys I knew, but I’ve made many new friends. With 1,500 sailors on board you couldn’t know everyone.”

Talents developed on the Canberra positioned Nullet for his scariest day on earth, one that nearly cost him his life. Working as a field supervisor for Local # 638, he was in a building next to the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11. “We thought the first plane was an accident, but then the second plane came in and missed us by about 30 feet,” he said. “We made it down from the fifth floor and tried to help the firemen, but they told us to get out fast. We saw everything: the strikes, the towers coming down, unimaginable panic and trauma, the whole horrific nightmare – way, way beyond the pins and needles of the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

Nullet, who lives with wife Barbara in Centereach, Long Island, later developed cancer from the towers’ carcinogen-filled debris and lost a portion of his right lung. Last month he got a clean bill of health. “I consider myself lucky compared to so many,” he said. “The nightmares have subsided and life is pretty good, but with each terrorist attack I think of that day and the threat we now all have to live with.”

Scott McCaskey is a contributing writer for BMR.com; Account Director at Goldman & Associates Public Relations and former staff writer for the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.


REUNION SPECIALIST: VICKY PARAD

Vicky ParadBMR: How long have you been working in the military reunion market, and how long at your current hotel?   I have been working at the Hyatt Deerfield for 3 years, and with the military reunion market for 6 years. I am very familiar with their needs and our hotel is very flexible with reunions.

BMR: What’s so significant about military reunions and how does the reunion market differ from other markets?  Reunions differ from corporate and business groups in that the attendees are mainly here to visit with one another, catch up with old friends and meet new friends, and most importantly reminisce with each other.

BMR: What does your hotel do for reunions that’s special?  Since we know the market, we know what they look for – low room rates (breakfast included). We offer a complimentary hospitality suite and allow them to provide their own food & beverages. We also offer a complimentary upgrade for the reunion organizer, and provide custom discounted banquet menus within their budget.

BMR: What makes Deerfield so attractive to reunion groups?  One of the most attractive things is our proximity to Great Lakes Naval Station. Reunions love to visit and reminisce about their past and share memories. Also nearby is historic Fort Sheridan, the Volo Auto Museum, and the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

BMR: How will BookMyReunion.com benefit your hotel?  BMR makes hotel contracting simple for groups and hotels, and offers reunion groups protection that only reunion-friendly hotels can offer.  Armed Forces Reunions has been planning reunions so long they know what hotels work well with reunions – like ours! Hotels that love reunions can become a BMR Star Hotel and gain visibility though their Hot Hotel Deals program.

 


Crowne Plaza Hotel
San Diego
For Reunions held in 2016:
• Specially priced Reunion Menu
• Complimentary internet access in guestrooms and meeting space (valued at $9.95 per day and $75.00 per day, respectively)
• Complimentary parking (valued at $12/day)
• Complimentary hospitality room with client welcome to bring own Food & Beverage, including alcohol
• Discounted daily Breakfast Buffet coupons available
• Complimentary One-Bedroom Suite upgrade for planner (valued at $750.00 per night)

Click here to request more info

Holiday Inn Va. Beach-Norfolk Hotel & Conference Center
Virginia Beach, VA
For reunions booked in 2016:
• Complimentary welcome reception (beer, wine, and light hors d’oeuvres).
• Complimentary Breakfast Buffet (two guests per room)
• Large Hospitality Rooms where groups can BYO
• Complimentary internet in sleeping rooms and meeting space
• Free parking and airport shuttle

Click here to request more info

Sheraton West Port Chalet
St. Louis, MO
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel
Pensacola, FL
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Group may provide own food and beverages (incl. alcohol) in hospitality room
• Free Airport Shuttle 6am-10pm
• No Room Attrition

Click here to request more info

Holiday Inn Market Square
San Antonio, TX
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Radisson Suites Tucson
Tucson, AZ
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Hilton San Antonio Airport
San Antonio, TX
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Silver Legacy
Downtown Reno, NV
Rates $69-109 (weekday/weekend)
• Complimentary meeting rooms with no attrition or food and beverage minimum
• Group allowed to provide own wine/beer/dry snacks in hospitality room
• With a minimum of 25 peak rooms Group receives two complimentary upgrades to Deluxe Suites.
• Each room receives $100 in Bonus Coupons including $5 off in Flavors Buffet and Café Central, 2 for 1 cocktails, and 20% discount in Health Spa

Click here to request more info

Crowne Plaza Providence/Warwick
Providence, RI
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

The Best Western Merry Manor Inn
Portland, ME
• Free Full American Buffet Breakfast
• A complimentary one hour welcome reception with beer, wine, soda, cookies, cheese and crackers, and vegetable crudite
• Three free suite upgrades
• Free high speed wifi in the rooms and throughout the hotel
• Free parking

Click here to request more info

Hotel Eleganté Conference & Event Center
Colorado Springs, CO
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

MCM Eleganté Suites
Colorado Springs, CO
• Rates starting at $99/night in summer, and $69/night during the off-season
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space for your reunion guests!
• Rates include breakfast and WIFI
• Located just 10 minutes south of the US Air Force Academy
• You may bring in your own food in banquet space, or have us cater your events!
• Located close to I-25, on Academy Blvd. near many attractions
• Kitchens in all rooms!

Click here to request more info

Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach
Virginia Beach, VA
Spring and Fall 2016 Rates $79 to $119. Sign by Dec 31, 2015.
• Complimentary Personalized Logo Cake for Banquet (send us your logo)
• Three Standard Room Upgrades to Suites (minimum 20 paid rooms per night)
• One Site Inspection Guestroom
• Complimentary Private Hospitality Room
• Double IHG Award Points
• All Guestrooms have a view of the Atlantic ocean from your personal balcony.

Click here to request more info

Crowne Plaza Hotel
Trevose / Northeast Philadelphia , PA
For 2015 Reunions:
• Complimentary Hospitality Room
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Beer, Wine, Light Hors D’oeuvres)
• 10 Free Overnight Guest Room Upgrades
• Complimentary Wireless Internet
• Complimentary Parking

Click here to request more info

Crowne Plaza Dayton
Dayton, OH
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Holiday Inn Opryland/Airport
Nashville, TN
• One hour complimentary wine, beer, and cheese welcome reception
• Complimentary guestroom for reunion planner
• Discounted breakfast coupons available
• Complimentary hospitality room
• Complimentary parking
• Complimentary airport and mall shuttle
• Complimentary wireless Internet

Click here to request more info

Crowne Plaza Phoenix North
Phoenix, AZ
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
San Diego, CA
• Large Hospitality Rooms where reunion groups can BYOB
• Complimentary Internet (WiFi) throughout the hotel
• Complimentary AV during reunion (to watch past reunion footage, listen to CD’s in the Hospitality Room, Banquet Dinner Keynote Speaker’s Presentation, etc)
• Parking fee Waived (regularly $10/day)
• Complimentary Suite Upgrade for VIP of group’s choice
• Reunion rate offered 3 days pre and post reunion
• Free 24 hour airport shuttle

Click here to request more info

Renaissance Orlando Airport
Orlando, FL
Reunion Group Bookings (minimum of 10 rooms for (3) nights based on availability) for July, August and September 2016 Reunions
• Complimentary Hospitality Suite (client permitted to bring in own beverages and snacks)
• One (1) complimentary upgrade for the event planner over their outlined dates
• Complimentary upgrade to the concierge level over the outlined dates
• Complimentary Cookie and Coffee welcome reception
• 15% discount in our outlets on food and beverage (excluding alcohol)
• Complimentary self-parking (Savings of $14.00 per day)
• Complimentary guestroom internet (Savings of $9.95 per day)

Click here to request more info

Best Western Plus Landmark Hotel
Metairie, LA
For Reunions held in 2016:
• Complimentary WI-FI
• Large Hospitality Room ~ you are allowed to BYO snacks & beverages
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception {Chef’s Choice of Food & Beverage}
• Rates from $99.99 to $119.99 – June-August rate is $89.99-$99.99
• Free upgrade for Reunion Planner
• Complimentary Parking
• Complimentary Business Center
• Complimentary: Podium, Microphone, American Flag, Screen & Projector

Click here to request more info

Holiday Inn Historic Downtown Mobile
Mobile, AL
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Holiday Inn Riverwalk
San Antonio
BMR Star 2016 Hotel Promotion
• $200 Credit to Group’s Master Account (only good through BookMyReunion)
• Complimentary One Hour Welcome Reception (Hotel’s Choice of Food & Beverage)
• 10% Discount in Hotel Restaurants (Excluding Alcohol)
• Discounted Reunion Banquet Menus
• No Room Attrition
• No Food & Beverage Minimum
• Complimentary Meeting/Banquet Space
• Complimentary Room and Upgrade for the Planner
• Free Wifi in Guest Rooms
• Complimentary Hospitality Room (Group Can BYO Beverages and Dry Snacks)

Click here to request more info

Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center
Branson, MO
• No attrition
• No food and beverage minimum
• The room rate will include our hot breakfast buffet.
• Hotel will extend the group rate to include the 3 days prior and 3 days post the event, based on availability with the pre and post nights counting toward the room block
• The per day Hospitality room rental will be waived, but a set-up fee will still apply. The set-up fee provides the Group with the ability to bring in own dry/prepackaged snacks and canned/bottled beverages. Perishable food items are not allowed in hospitality room, unless purchased from hotel.
• The Hospitality Package includes ice drops each day, daily trash removal & replacement cloths for tables, hospitality room set up.
• Hotel will provide American Flag, Missing Man Table, Podium & Mic, & up to 3 exhibit tables in hospitality room
• Group will be allowed to bring in own A/V at no charge.

Click here to request more info