May 2015 Newsletter
Vol 2, Issue 5
Receive a $200 credit to your group’s master account, and much more, at participating BMR Star Hotels! A new BookMyReunion.com promotion is only offered to groups booking their 2016 reunion through BMR (click on Hot Hotel Deals). And of course, get an attrition-free contract with lots of comps, discounts, and concessions – with our very own BookMyReunion Hotel Contract. The leader in military reunion hotel bookings, BookMyReunion.com is so much more: free tour operator and bus company referrals, online reunion registration websites, and free hotel set-up forms to help you detail your banquet, hospitality room, and meeting needs. Reunion planning has never been so easy!
BookMyReunion.com is a complete one-stop shop to meet all your group’s reunion needs. But most important is our ability to lead groups to reunion-friendly hotels. Why choose corporate hotels that don’t understand the needs of military reunions? Our BookMyReunion attrition-free, short form hotel contract has pre-negotiated concessions without the legal gobbledygook in corporate hotel contracts. Partner with BMR today, do away with the aggravation and headaches of finding the right hotel – and save your group money!
May’s Top Reunion Destination is Seattle Southside, the northwest’s most popular and accessible reunion city. Seatac Airport, Southcenter Mall, the Museum of Flight, and numerous restaurants make Seattle Southside the place to be. Downtown Seattle is expensive – save your group money and stay south.
Our Featured Veteran is decorated WWII airman Bud Curtis, who is honored by his son and Vietnam veteran Lory Curtis. Lory’s book about his father’s experiences with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment was made into a movie. Lory carries the torch for his dad as the Reunion Chairman for the 517th’s annual reunions. This year they’ll visit BMR Top Reunion Destination New Orleans, and will stay at BMR Star Hotel Best Western Plus Landmark Hotel in Metairie.
This month’s Reunion Specialist is Kris Davis, Director of Sales at the Crowne Plaza Dayton. Dayton was our Top Reunion Destination in the April newsletter. The city and hotels of Dayton are among the most reunion-friendly any group will find. Kris probably knows your reunion’s needs better than you do.
Seattle Southside welcomes our heroes of the armed forces! Seattle Southside is an ideal location for a unique reunion, with the perfect blend of military attractions and close-by natural wonders. With easy access to downtown Seattle, plenty of nearby restaurants, and hotel rates typically 20-30% less than downtown Seattle, Seattle Southside is the perfect home base to explore the Pacific Northwest.
Many historic bases, military museums, and aircraft collections chronicle the region’s history of defense. In addition, Seattle’s non-military attractions will captivate your reunion attendees. Seattle Southside is home to the Museum of Flight, which chronicles the early Boeing story and features historic military and commercial aircraft, including the Personal Courage Wing with stories and artifacts from WWI and WWII. Westfield Southcenter, the largest indoor shopping center in the Pacific Northwest, is home to shops, restaurants and entertainment options to keep even the pickiest attendee content.
Situated on the Puget Sound, Seattle Southside is not too far from Mount Rainier, Snoqualmie Falls and the San Juan Islands for incredible daytrip opportunities.
Seattle Southside’s services include itinerary planning, complimentary area guides and maps, and request for proposal coordination for transportation and attractions.
Harland “Bud” Curtis was with the battle-tested 517th U.S. Army Parachute Regimental Combat Team over Europe, but rarely talked about his World War II experiences. Only when son Lory joined the Marines and was getting ready to serve in Vietnam did dad share a bit of wartime perspective: “Keep your head down son.”
Years later Lory and his brother Tim were watching the acclaimed HBO Series Band of Brothers and suspected the show featured stories of the 517th and asked their father. It did, and he soon began to share some of his memories.
“Dad was on a combat jump into southern France and was coming down over what he thought was water,” recalled Lory, age 66. “He was trying to cut off his chute when he realized it was a thick fog bank and in almost an instant hit the ground. He got out of the chute, said aloud the password and was immediately under German fire, a bullet whizzing right by his ear. He stayed put on the ground until he saw sunlight break the horizon and then took off like hell through the bullets. He slipped down a deep ravine and thought he was a goner until he found himself in a group of American soldiers taking cover under a ledge. The gunfire soon stopped and they moved on.”
The 517th PRCT saw heavy fighting in Southern France, Italy, Belgium, Germany and at the Battle of the Bulge. They spent 94 consecutive days in direct combat on the front lines in France, more than any other unit of the war. Known as the Battling Buzzards, they were the only parachute regimental combat team in the European theater and its ranks received a Medal of Honor, six Distinguished Service Crosses, five Legions of Merit and scores of Silver Stars, Bronze Stars and Purple hearts. More than 250 paratroopers were lost. President Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Melvin Biddle of the 517th for bravery at the Battle of the Bulge.
In 2004 Curtis, who retired from the war as a Private First Class, was one of 100 American soldiers to receive an all expenses trip paid by the French government to receive the Legion of Honor, the French equivalent of the U.S. Medal of Honor. He was with one other member of the 517th, Dr. Walter Golforth.
“These men of the 517th and World War II in general were truly of the Greatest Generation,” said Lory, who served 27 years in the U.S. Marines, active duty and reserves, and in the Army National Guard, where he retired as a Major. “I’m so thankful to each one for the sacrifices they made. One of the last things my father said before he passed away was to “never let the 517th die.”
Their story lives on not only in memories, but in print and film. Published in 2012, Letters Home: A Paratrooper’s Story, is an account written by Lory of his father’s wartime experiences, taken largely from letters he sent home from the front to his mother. The book was made into a movie, Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed, http://www.airbornecreed.com, in which Bud Curtis is played by actor Jasen Wade. Lory also serves as the 517th PRCT Association’s First Vice President and is joined by many members of the extended family in never letting the 517th die. They are among a growing number of families nationwide that are ensuring the wartime legacies of those who went before continue to live on.
“The book and movie were written and made to honor not only our father and the 517th, but to honor all our veterans, and all men and women serving in the military,” said Lory, who lives in Salt Lake City. “We remember and recognize the huge sacrifices they made and are making now to defend and keep our country free.”
The 517th PRCT Association will hold a reunion in June 25-29 in New Orleans, where they will visit the National World War II Museum. BookMyReunion.com’s parent company, Armed Forces Reunions, Inc., has managed many previous reunions for the 517th and will direct the upcoming event. “Most of the veterans of the 517th are now 91, 92 or more, with maybe a couple youngsters at 89,” Lory said. “So it’s going to be a special one. The museum has a C-47 hanging from the ceiling and some exhibits dedicated to our paratroopers. The trip should bring back some memories and keep more alive for the future.”
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 the reunion market since 2004 and have been with the Crowne Plaza Dayton since 2010.
BMR: What’s so significant about military reunions and how does the reunion market differ from other markets? Military Reunions have many unique aspects but the most memorable is the bond they share with one another. Whether or not they know each other personally, they share a common bond; they are all tied together and it’s an honor to help them come together to share memories. Working with Military Reunions is a true experience in its own right. Each planner trusts you with their memories and if you are lucky enough to have this opportunity you are forever grateful for the memories shared. I have been in the hospitality industry for over 25 years and there is no other market that will welcome you into their world like reunions do.
BMR: What does your hotel do for reunions that’s special? We make each reunion special by giving them a large hospitality room, overlooking the city of Dayton, where groups can provide their own snacks & beverages. We offer welcome receptions and discounted banquet pricing. We also provide complimentary airport transportation and valet parking for our reunion guests.
BMR: What makes Dayton so attractive to reunion groups? From the outskirts of the city to the downtown core, you’ll find an incredible selection of diverse, world-class attractions. The city has a central location in the country and an accessible and affordable airport. The National Museum of the United States Air Force has one of the world’s largest collections with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display. The museum draws over 1.3 million visitors each year making it one of the most frequently visited FREE tourist attractions in Ohio.
BMR: How will BookMyReunion.com benefit your hotel? BookMyReunion.com is a wonderful and necessary tool for both Military Reunion meeting planners and service providers. I believe the increased exposure will introduce me to a broader scope of planners. I am looking forward to welcoming more reunions, hearing their stories and sharing their memories!