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October 2016 Newsletter

Vol 3, Issue 9

Ted’s Talk

Happy 241st Birthday U.S. Navy!

Our nation celebrated the U.S. Navy’s 241st Birthday on October 13.  AFR has a long history with the Navy, which makes sense with our company’s headquarters here in Norfolk – home to U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Joint Staff Hampton Roads, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, Naval Submarine Forces, Atlantic; and Naval Reserve Forces Command.

Just recently AFR was awarded a three year contract by the Navy Reserves to plan Returning Warrior Workshops in the continental United States and Puerto Rico for post-deployment Reservists.  This is the third time we’ve been awarded since the initiation of this important Yellow Ribbon program in 2008. AFR’s services and technical ability have been continually rated as “Outstanding” by the Navy. We have provided military reunions five star service for going on thirty years and it was our history of serving only the military that caused the Navy’s contracting house to call in 2008, suggesting AFR bid on DOD’s reintegration programs.
If your military reunion group is seeking a first class operation and an honorable partner please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-562-7226.  Or visit our Home Page.

The Featured Veteran this month is Dave Smith, president of the 2/3 Vietnam Vets Association.  2/3 joined our large family of satisfied Marine Corps groups this year.

The Featured Reunion Destination this month is Columbus, GA – home to the National Infantry Museum. A year doesn’t pass without AFR hosting a reunion in Columbus, and recently the Society of the Fifth Division has a spectacular reunion there.

BookMyReunion.com can help find your group the best deal, with attrition-free contracts for groups of less than 50 rooms.  For groups with 50 or more rooms per night and taking advantage of AFR’s full range of reunion planning services: book your reunion for the first time with AFR before December 1 and earn money for your group:  http://www.armedforcesreunions.com/reunion-rebates/


TOP REUNION DESTINATION: COLUMBUS, GA

Nestled along the banks of the Chattahoochee River in west central Georgia, Columbus was one of the last planned cities of the original 13 colonies and served as a major supply point during the Civil War.
The National Infantry Museum & Solider Center at Patriot Park honors the 235+ year legacy of valor and sacrifice of the American Infantryman.  This facility serves to educate, honor, and preserve the legacy of the oldest branch of the United States Armed Forces.  Inside the National Infantry Museum, traverse the “Last 100 Yards Ramp,” where battles from each of the Infantry’s major conflicts over the years are depicted in striking realism.  Enjoy interactive galleries tracing Infantry history from colonial times to the present and learn about the training of today’s Soldier.

Visit the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus – the only museum in the country dedicated to the naval history of the Civil War.  New on the grounds at Port Columbus is a full-scale replica of the USS Water Witch, representing one of the most exciting events in Civil War naval history.

When it’s time for your reunion, Columbus’ inventory of meeting space can accommodate the smallest groups to a 6000-plus-person convention…all handled with the sophisticated support found in larger cities, but without the sticker shock.  As for facilities to have your meeting, Columbus has more than 30 distinctive breakout venues totaling more than a half-million square feet of meeting space.  Among these venues is the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.  Once called the Columbus Iron Works, the Trade Center was a foundry that churned out everything from machine parts to munitions during the Civil War.  Today, this recently expanded and renovated architectural wonder has been converted into one of the most distinctive meeting facilities in the Southeast…if not the country.

Columbus, Georgia is a city unafraid of change…yet careful to uphold its heritage.  Come experience this one of a kind city and her true Southern hospitality.  Come see “What Progress Has Preserved.”

For more information, CLICK HERE to view their Top Destination page.

 


MEET OUR FEATURED VETERAN: DAVE SMITH, 2ND BATTALION THIRD MARINES REGIMENT

Memories Past and Present from the 2nd Battalion/3rd Marine Regiment

Captured in photojournalist Catherine Leroy’s 1967 picture Corpsman In Anguish of U.S. Navy Corpsman Vernon Wike cradling a dying comrade near Khe Sanh, Vietnam, the image brings home the valor and sacrifice of the 2nd Battalion/3rd Marine Regiment. Serving in 2/3 from 1967-68, Sergeant Dave Smith was a section leader, forward observer and squad leader attached to Foxtrot Co. The battalion and Smith saw some of the bloodiest and most heroic fighting of the war.

“I was one little cog in the big wheel of 2/3, the best men and officers anyone could hope to serve with,” said Smith, 67. “The battalion arrived in 1965 and came out in 1969 with three Congressional Medals of Honor recipients, eight Navy Crosses and more than 40 Silver Stars. We lost 522 Marines, but inflicted a lot more casualties on the North Vietnamese Army.”

Smith arrived in Vietnam not long after Leroy’s photo was taken and the notorious Hill Fights. He saw almost continuous combat in operations around Da Nang and the DMZ, including the battle at Foxtrot Ridge outside Khe Sanh on May 28, 1968. “I was a forward observer calling in mortar fire with only 88 of us left when 900 to 1,000 NVA regulars came up. By the end of the night we lost 13 Marines, with 44 wounded. The enemy did not take the ridge and had more than 240 casualties strewn around the hill. Golf Co. arrived with reinforcements the next morning, followed by a repeat of the night before. Marines next to me were killed and wounded. I learned then and there it was just the luck of the draw.”

Smith and 2/3 went north when the TET offensive hit as part of the joint Marine Corps/Army Operation Pegasus during the siege of Khe Sanh. The battalion was on the move in widespread operations until Smith’s tour ended: “We were kind of like firemen. Whenever anyone needed help they called in 2/3. Our nickname was “rent a battalion.”

Smith was discharged from the Marines in 1969 as a Sergeant E-5. He returned to his native California, graduated from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo in 1973 and later became a history and government teacher at Santa Ynez High School. In 2000 he reengaged with 2/3 on the web and attended a 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines Vietnam Veterans Association reunion. “The first guy I ran into was Alan Walker, who turned out to also have been in Foxtrot Co. the same time I was. I asked him if he remembered the day Gunny Ziegler got killed. He did and said he was nearby with another Marine trying to save a guy with a shot to the chest. That other Marine was me, but he died in our arms.”

Smith was elected president of the Association last year. The group has about 170 members and held their most recent reunion during August in Charleston, South Carolina, managed by Armed Forces Reunions, Inc., (AFR) the parent company of BookMyReunion.com. “AFR did a tremendous job and they’re doing our Hills Fights 50th anniversary gathering next year in San Antonio,” said Smith, who lives with wife Terry in Lompoc, California.

“What I like most about our reunions is that we’re still bringing in new guys, some I haven’t seen since Vietnam and many I never knew,” Smith said. “It’s very powerful when you watch them connect with everyone. Happiness, sadness, laughter and tears, it’s one of the most special things in the world to me. “Doc” Wike has come to a few of the reunions and I’m trying to get a hold of him for San Antonio.”

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.


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