From The Command Track
By: Allen Hathaway
4th Quarter, 2017
Each of our 32 annual reunions
has its own unique memories. Those memories usually
include meeting old friends, sharing pictures,
swapping stories, making new friends or enjoying the
local attractions. For those who attended the 2017
reunion in Orlando, they have different and unusual
memories, hurricane Irma. Despite the weather, all
those who stayed the weekend enjoyed the friendship
and comradery of their fellow Blackhorse friends.
The Friday prior to the reunion, nearly 1,200 were registered for the reunion. Everyone was monitoring the weather forecast throughout the weekend as Irma moved through the Caribbean. As with many reunions, people arrived a few days early to use the time to enjoy some of the local attractions. By Tuesday, over 200 people had arrived. We met with the hotel management on Tuesday to review the conditions. The staff assured us the hotel was safe, was built to withstand hurricane force winds and had been through hurricanes in the past. All the hotel services would be available. It would be “business as usual”. Given the number of people already at the hotel, a decision was made to continue with the reunion as planned.
Approximately half of the 1,200 decided to contact the hotel and cancel their plans. Airlines began cancelling outbound Orlando flights for Sunday and Monday as the airport would be closed. For those who were in Orlando and affected by cancellations, it meant they would stay for a few extra days! Some who drove to Orlando decided to leave before the weekend; but, despite the forecast, an estimated 500+ decided to “weather the storm” and stay. Blackhorse troopers persevere! And so, the reunion went on as planned.
Registration officially opened on Wednesday. In addition to the names tags, meal tickets and reunion pin, everyone received a $15 meal voucher which could be redeemed in any of the restaurants in the hotel. This was a good deal! After registration, the next stop for many was the Quartermaster Store!
The bunker (hospitality ballroom) also opened on Wednesday and the crowd began to gather. Admittedly, it was sparse at times. This may have been the only reunion when you could carry on a conversation and hear what was being said.
The weather on Thursday and Friday was sunny. 35 golfers played in the Marty Ognibene Golf Tournament on Thursday. Others enjoyed the pool while some took in some of the local attractions. You would have never suspected a hurricane was headed toward this area.
On Friday evening the hotel furnished hot hors d’oeuvres from 7-8 pm. The silent auction was held at the same time. Over 170 items were laid out on tables. The room was spacious which allowed everyone the opportunity to study each item carefully. Some of the items were very popular and many tried to outbid each other.
The annual Business Meeting was held on Saturday morning where we reported on the state of the organization. The financial report was given and elections were held, the results of which are printed elsewhere in this issue. The Westgate Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will be the 2019 reunion site.
Chaplain Bill Karabinos conducted
the memorial service on Saturday afternoon. The names
of departed Blackhorse troopers who have passed away
since the previous reunion were read. A final salute
was rendered to those troopers.
The Saturday evening banquet and program are typically the highlights of the reunion. A few adjustments were made to the program but all in all the evening went well. Mike “Doc” Rafferty gave a report on the 2017 scholarship recipients. He also reported that beginning in 2018, grandchildren would be eligible to apply for scholarships. The audience gave a very affirming round of applause.
We have a longstanding tradition to ask the “first timers” to stand and receive a “welcome home” round of applause from the audience. Many of them commented afterward that they waited far too long to attend their first reunion.
The Saturday evening program was
topped off by the Blackhorse Salute, a 20 minute video
featuring photos of "everyday life" in your regiment
in Vietnam. This is always a very powerful and
sometimes emotional part of the program as we honor
the service of the thousands of Blackhorse troopers
who served in Vietnam with this great regiment.
By Sunday the hotel staff began to “batten down the hatches” by removing pool furniture and other outdoor items. Irma moved through Orlando late Sunday evening and early Monday morning. My room was on the 18th floor (of a total of 24 floors). I slept like a rock! You would never know there was a hurricane unless you looked out the window. The sun was shining again on Monday. Many took the opportunity to get out and walk around. By Tuesday, people were checking out of the hotel and heading home.
I can’t say enough about the hotel and staff at the Rosen Centre. The restaurants were opened throughout the weekend. There was plenty of food and water available. There was no flooding. The power remained on. There was air conditioning and hot water for showers. The staff was extremely helpful in extending the reservations for our attendees as rooms became available due to other cancellations. Yes, the 32nd annual reunion certainly had some unique memories.
Throughout the reunion week we tried to keep everyone informed on the status of the reunion through our website bulletin board and Face book page. There were many cancellations. Some attendees may receive a refund. Please take a few minutes to read the 2017 Orlando Reunion Refund article in this issue and on our website. Several hundred refunds must be processed manually so if you meet the criteria please be patient.
The 2018 reunion will be held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hotel reservation information is in this issue and on our website. Please make your hotel reservations early. Grand Rapids is eager to welcome the 11th ACVVC. It has much to offer by way of entertainment and dining.
The 2018 calendar will be mailed in November. Members always look forward to receiving the calendar. The Scholarship Program depends solely on donations from you, our members. The cost of printing and mailing the calendar must be paid first, then any remaining funds are used to award scholarships. We ask our members to continue their support by making a donating.
Approximately 24 percent of the 7,100 who receive a calendar in 2017 made a donation. That’s 1,700 out of 7,100. This year, once again, our goal is to increase that percentage. Help to achieve that goal by making a donation. Even the smallest donation helps!
We have a great organization and I want to take this opportunity to thank our members for their continued support. Welcome Home, it's good to be "Together Again".