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November/December 2015 Newsletter

Vol 2, Issue 11

Ted’s Talk

Ted onlyWhile Armed Forces Reunions plans reunions for all branches of the military, we here salute fantastic Army reunions from 2015. In reunion planning, as in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location! Choosing a site that has historical or emotional significance can be the difference between a good reunion and a terrific reunion.

New Orleans, with the WWII Museum, is a magnet for reunions of all branches, and this year we hosted the Timberwolves (104th Inf), 7th Infantry Regiment, and the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team there. The All Birddog Unit Reunion returned to Dothan, AL and Fort Rucker, home of Army Aviation, to dedicate their own memorial adjacent to the U.S. Army Aviation Museum. A BBQ at the Friends of Aviation hangar with helicopter and Birddog flights for attendees were the highlight of the reunion. The Army Otter Caribou Assn. toured another of the nation’s great museums – the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, while the 106th Infantry Div. toured historic Charleston and the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

Some cities are natural destinations for certain branches of the military. While Norfolk is rightly associated with Navy reunions, this year we planned reunions for the 94th Infantry Division, 4/9 Infantry Manchu (Vietnam) Assn., and the Americal Division in our hometown of Norfolk. The Americal veterans had a moving memorial service at the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Memorial and toured the U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis. The Manchus had a harbor lunch cruise, toured the world’s largest naval base, and paid tribute to one of their own – conducting a graveside memorial service for Hampton native and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Ruppert Sargent.

In this month’s Veteran Interview meet Larry Swank with the Americal Division. This was AFR’s first year working with Americal and we look forward to planning many more reunions with them in the years to come. Our Featured Destination is Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk and her sister cities host more military bases than anywhere else in the nation, making Norfolk a Top Reunion Destination for any branch of the service.


DESTINATION OF THE MONTH: NORFOLK, VA

Nor-fok, or Naw-fok, no matter how you pronounce it, the experience will always be the same: fun, Nauticus-Battleship-Wisconsin-1vibrant entertainment and culture, delicious cuisine and 144 miles of shoreline waiting to be explored! With the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic ocean and countless rivers in our backyard, you are never far from the water; you can experience intense watersports, leisurely sails, or simply enjoy the view from your hotel room.

Cruise the Elizabeth River harbor on a Tall Ship or lunch/dinner cruise or watch world-renowned artists blow glass at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. If history is your thing, sign up for a boat or land tour of the world’s largest Naval Base, stop by Fort Norfolk, or walk the Cannonball Trail.

Navy buffs can engage in lively tours of Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval station and home to more than 100 ships in the Atlantic Fleet. Norfolk is also home to Battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships in the world. Stop by The MacArthur Memorial, a museum and research center dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of the life of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. Or take a stroll along the waterfront and stop by the Armed Force Memorial, located Town Point Park. This beautiful memorial is dedicated to veterans of American conflicts from the Revolutionary to Persian Gulf War. Within the memorial are twenty inscriptions of letters written home by U.S. service people who lost their lives in battle.

The Virginia International Tattoo is an exhibition of marching bands, massed pipes and drums, drill teams, gymnasts, Scottish dancers, choirs and more. It is the largest show of its kind in the United States and includes all US military branches plus the branches of eight to ten other counties.

Located within a day’s driving distance from two-thirds of the U.S. population, Norfolk is accessible from most major cities on the East Coast. Nearby Norfolk International Airport offers hundreds of flights daily.


MEET OUR FEATURED VETERAN: LARRY SWANK

A massive surprise attack, the launch of the Tet offensive saw wave after wave of more than 80,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong roll into South Vietnam. Starting January 30, 1968, enemy troops penetrated deep into the country and toward the vital air base in Da Nang, controlled by U.S., South Vietnamese and allied forces. Army Lt. Larry Swank was a forward observer in a field artillery unit of the Americal Division.

“We were outnumbered 10 to one defending the airport, overrun at one point and losing almost half the company,” said Swank, 70. “Nineteen were killed and 35 wounded in one day, with only two officers left. Heavy combat raged throughout the region, often hand-to-hand, depending on which side of the rice paddy you were on.”

Swank was in company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 198th Light Infantry Brigade of the division. He served in the command group directing the firepower of 105 mm howitzers and other artillery to support the infantry. Swank received a Silver Star for his role in defending the air base.
“Saving the airport was a big deal as it was critical for us and for the naval port as well. The communists eventually suffered far greater losses in that battle and as a whole by the time the Tet was over in May.”

The Americal Division was formed in Caledonia, Solomon Islands during World War II, the only named division in the army at the time, also called the 23rd Infantry Division. The group saw brutal conflict at Guadalcanal in October, 1942, the first Army infantry to engage the enemy in World War II and awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy), along with the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation. The Americal was stationed around the globe during the Cold War, and was the largest division in Vietnam. Its soldiers received scores of medals and recognition, including platoon sergeant Fennis D. McCleery being awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Quang Tin province in May, 1968. Because of all the conflict the division saw between 1967 -’71, the group is also referred to as the Gunfighters.

“To say the Americal saw its share of combat and bravery would be an understatement, especially for those four years in Nam,” Swank said. Serving until 1969, Swank returned to the states, graduated from the University of MD and entered the Army Reserves. He returned to active duty and worked at the Pentagon overseeing Army commissioning programs before retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1992. He went on to a successful career in the IT industry as Director of Software Deployment for Falls Church, VA-based Computer Sciences Corporation.

Swank again served the Americal Division when he joined the group’s veterans association 11 years ago and helped create the website for his infantry company, http://www.a-1-6.org. He was the group’s National Commander and today is Chairman of its Executive Council. The association has more than 3,000 veterans from World War II, the Cold War and Vietnam, holding annual reunions across the country. Their most recent gathering in October in Norfolk, VA was managed by Armed Forces Reunions, Inc., parent company of BookMyReunion.com.

“We like to go to destinations with military significance, but it’s also to get all the guys and the families together,” said Swank, who lives with his wife Karen in Bowie, MD. “The reunion in Norfolk was the best we’ve had in years, great military history and lots to do. We’re mostly Nam vets now and fall back to being 18 or 19 years old, recounting all the stories, enjoying the fellowship and remembering guys we lost. It’s uplifting and kind of cathartic too. A lot of the same folks come each year, but we did have some new faces in Norfolk and said they wished they’d started coming sooner.”

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.


HELPFUL HINT: EVENT INSURANCE MADE EASY

Many hotel contracts have a clause that require groups to purchase Event Insurance. Now there is a quick, easy, and affordable service that chairmen can use to purchase insurance for their events – www.TheEventHelper.com. The entire process can be completed in a matter of minutes on the company’s website, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing insurance until a few days before your event. The pricing is affordable for any group with most quotes ranging between $100-$200 for the entire event depending on number of people, location, and the length of the event. To learn more, visit www.TheEventHelper.com


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