July 2015 Newsletter
Vol 2, Issue 7
FLASH! Announcing the first ever nationwide cash-back incentive to military reunion groups! Your group can earn from $250 to $3,000 – in any city, at any hotel, anytime! Only the nation’s leading military reunion planner, Armed Forces Reunions (AFR founded in 1988), could make such an offer. To learn more please CLICK HERE for details.
AFR’s newest division, BookMyReunion.com, brings more savings to reunions though our BMR Star Hotel Specials. Please CLICK HERE to see what member hotels are offering for 2016. Never have so many savings opportunities been presented to military reunions. It’s becoming a Seller’s Market in the hotel world and you need a professional on your side to get the best deal possible. AFR can open doors that no single reunion could dream of.
July’s Top Reunion Destination is a place that is so rich in history and which is just minutes from Marine Corps Base Quantico: Fredericksburg, VA. With over 350 original 18th and 19th century buildings in its historic district, and four Civil War battlefields, Fredericksburg is unique among the nation’s historic destinations.
Our Featured Veteran this month is Frank Berglas, Secretary/Treasurer of the USS Little Rock Association – which is meeting this week in Buffalo, where the ship is a living museum. Secretary of the Navy, Raymond Mabus, Jr., is a Little Rock shipmate and will be on hand to celebrate the association’s 25th anniversary. This is the 23rd reunion AFR has planned for the Little Rock shipmates. Have a great time old friends!
This month’s Reunion Specialist is Peyton Canfield, Sales Manager for the Crowne Plaza San Diego. Many of you know this hotel as the former Red Lion Hanalei. There’s no telling how many reunion groups we’ve hosted there in the last 27 years. Clearly, the reunion market takes up most of Peyton’s time, and she knows well what makes for a successful reunion. We’re looking forward to hosting the First Marine Division Assn. and the OV-1 Mohawk Assn. there in the coming months.
From the adventurous days of the New World explorers to the devastating days of the Civil War, famous and ordinary travelers have sojourned in our beautiful city. Captain John Smith, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant have all made indelible marks on the history of this area.
This rich history has given the City of Fredericksburg a downtown area full of genuine historical and architectural treasures. Over 350 original 18th and 19th century buildings in the City’s 40-block National Historic District reflect some of the most interesting periods in America’s past. The vibrant streets are lined with brick sidewalks, antique and specialty shops, more than 40 one-of-a-kind restaurants, beautiful private homes and resplendent gardens.
Though the city has a rich historical presence, you will also find reunion facilities, ranging from small historic inns to the convenience of modern hotels and an expo and conference center. We are conveniently located on I-95, with rail service via Amtrak or Virginia Railway Express. Major airports are just one hour away in Washington, D. C. and Richmond, Virginia.
Fredericksburg is located just minutes for the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Base Quantico for day tours and memorial services. A. Smith Bowman Distillery and a number of wineries and breweries are available for tours, tastings and as unique event sites. Fredericksburg also has a dinner theater that boasts off-Broadway talent. Four Civil War battlefields welcome visitors to share our past military history.
The staff of the Fredericksburg Department of Economic Development and Tourism will work closely with your reunion to ensure a successful event. We can assist with finding the perfect host hotel, site visits, planning of off-site tours and programs, images and program content, name badges and welcome packets for attendees.
Welcome to Fredericksburg…it’s Timeless. For a two minute video on the Fredericksburg area, click here.
A former Navy Yeoman on the USS Little Rock from 1959-61, Frank Berglas thought the ship had long been scrapped. But as the sole surviving vessel from the Cleveland class/Galveston class cruiser fleets, the USS Little Rock had been saved and was proudly floating as a memorial at the Buffalo and Eric County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York. Not long after a former shipmate told him the cruiser had survived, Berglas was standing with his family on the deck in Buffalo.
“The Rock was a short, but important part of my life, a vivid part,” Berglas said. “The ship almost became a living entity for me and when I learned she was still alive, I had to see. We went on board and I pretty much relived where I worked, ate, slept and shared a lot of camaraderie. I wanted the family with me, they’d heard so much about it.”
The USS Little Rock was commissioned in 1945, too late to see combat in World War II. Fifteen years later her superstructure was enlarged, armaments reconfigured to carry the Talos missile system and commissioned for a second time in 1960 as a guided missile cruiser. Berglas saw duty along the U.S. East Coast, in the Caribbean and throughout the Mediterranean, where the vessel saw extensive service, often as the flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet and in support of NATO units. In 1975 she represented the U.S. at the reopening of the Suez Canal and also assisted in the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Beirut, Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War, helping take 279 people to safety. The second USS Little Rock served until being decommissioned in 1976. She was opened as the memorial in Buffalo in 1979.
“In my two years we didn’t see combat, but the Little Rock was a magnificent warship and we weathered some ferocious storms and saw some amazing places, especially in the Mediterranean. Ports in Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, the geography, culture and history were just incredible, especially for a 20-year old,” said Berglas, 74, who lives in Stamford, CT with his wife Gaye. “We were perhaps the first American warship to go all the way to Bordeaux, France. As a yeoman under the X branch’s legal officer I got a lot of leave and went to Paris, Athens and Switzerland. I was paid $100 a month too.”
Berglas left the Navy as a yeoman third class and served four years in the reserves. He went on to enjoy a successful career as an executive in the insurance industry. During life in the private sector he took the opportunity to serve the ship he loved a second time. After discovering the Little Rock was still alive, he and former shipmates started the USS Little Rock Association. Berglas has been the secretary and treasurer for more than a decade. Reunions are held in Buffalo every two years and at U.S. cities with a significant Navy or military presence in between, with the gatherings managed by Armed Forces Reunions, Inc., the parent company of BookMyReunion.com.
The Association’s 25th anniversary is this week, July 15-19 in Buffalo, and promises to be an especially unique occasion, not only for the quarter-century milestone, but for the rebirth of the USS Little Rock and a very distinguished guest.
“A new USS Little Rock, the LCS–9, has been built in Wisconsin and will be christened there during our reunion,” Berglas said. “Adding to that, Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus Jr., who was a surface warfare officer on the ship in the early 1970s, will fly to Buffalo after the christening to join us for our banquet dinner on Saturday night. What a tribute for the 25th anniversary and another life for the Rock.”
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.
BMR: How long have you been working in the military reunion market, and how long at your current hotel? I have been working in the military reunion market as well as at my current hotel for a little over a year now. I have been with the Intercontinental Hotels Group brand for over five years though, with experience in the boutique hotel brand and 5-star brands previous to moving into our meetings focused brand.
BMR: What’s so significant about military reunions and how does the reunion market differ from other markets? Military reunions are such a unique and important part of the social markets. They not only feature a heartwarming type of camaraderie that is not seen in other areas, but also have a focus on reminiscing and history. The emphasis on group actives and pride these individuals feel for their units is so unique to the military reunion market and it’s something I hope other groups will learn from. It’s an honor to be a small part of helping these organizations put on these great events!
BMR: What does your hotel do for reunions that’s special? We love military reunions at the Crowne Plaza San Diego! We not only value the business they bring but understand the specific needs they have. We offer complimentary hospitality rooms in one of our spacious One-Bedroom Suites or in a portion of our 30,000 square feet of meeting space. We allow our reunions to bring in outside Food & Beverage into the hospitality room, including alcohol. We also include a Complimentary upgrade to a One-Bedroom Suite for the planner, a specially priced Reunion Menu for banquet dinners, Complimentary internet access in guestrooms and meeting space, Complimentary ice service in the hospitality room, and discounted Breakfast Buffet vouchers are available as well.
BMR: What makes San Diego so attractive to reunion groups? San Diego is well known for our most obvious attractions, like the world famous San Diego Zoo, or the more than 10 beautiful beaches up and down our 70 miles of coast line. But what I think makes us so great for reunion groups is the deep and long standing connection to all branches of the military. There are still multiple bases around the city and many residents are active or retired personnel. We have so many attractions to offer from the USS Midway tour, Balboa Park with its 15 museums, or the fun and popular harbor dinner cruises. We look forward to welcoming you to America’s Finest City!
BMR: How will BookMyReunion.com benefit your hotel? I’ve worked with Ted Dey and the Armed Forces Reunions team since I started with the Crowne Plaza San Diego and it has been a joy every step of the way. BookMyReunion.com (BMR) helps both the hotel and the reunion associations to ensure they are being placed not only in the right location for the entire group’s enjoyment but also at the right hotel, at the best available rate. Reunion friendly properties are really a niche in the hotel world and Armed Forces Reunions does a fantastic job ensuring they are working with the right hotels. Creating the BMR Program just further backs up their already sterling reputation with both associations and partner hotels!