Saturday, April 24, 2010

Navigating your way to the NMA Reunion.

It happens at this time every year: I start hearing from former MUs who are thinking about joining the Navy Musicians Association and coming to the annual reunion.

I'm glad the word is getting around, and am happy to provide the basic information a newcomer will need.

The 2010 reunion of the Navy Musicians Association will be held at the Doubletree Hotel, near the airport in San Antonio, Texas, from Wed., June 23 to Sat., June 26.

Here are basics you'll need to get yourself to San Antonio:  

1. Register for the reunion / Join the NMA

  • - Download a reunion registration form at .
  • - If you are not yet a member of the NMA, you may join using this form.
  • - Send the form and payment to:
    Cecil Strange, Treasurer
    Navy Musicians Association
    P. O. Box 2294
    Plant City, FL 33564-2294
2. Reserve a room at the Doubletree.
  • - Call  the Doubletree at (800) 535-1980.
  • - The hotel has blocked off rooms for us at a special rate, so mention that you're coming to the NMA reunion.
  • - The special $95-per-night rate is also good for the 3 days before and after the reunion.
  • - Do this by June 1 to ensure the special rate.
It's that simple.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My kind of retirement ceremony

The retirement ceremony ranks at the bottom of a Navy band's list of enjoyable gigs, tied with its brother-in-boredom, the change of command.

Here's a new approach to the retirement ceremony, one I think you'll endorse. The retiree, Command Master Chief Mo Radke, instead of delivering a long, dry recitation, speaks only long enough to cue the big band from the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band. Along with the master chief's father, trumpeter Fred Radke, leader of the Harry James Orchestra, the band then shows that a retirement ceremony can, indeed, swing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Step by step, inch by inch

My decision to attend the 2010 Navy Musicians Association reunion was a slogging march through the mud of finances,scheduling and priorities.

Step One: I payed my 2010 dues to the NMA.  

Step Two: I talked about the reunion with my wife. Nothing big about this step either--around this time of year I'm always talking about the NMA. At least Jo thinks so.

These are tough times, and I know I'm not the only one for whom money is tighter than the head on a Scottish snare drum. But Jo knows how important the NMA is to me. Go, she said, even though she probably wouldn't be able to join me.

Step Three: I registered for the reunion.

Step Four: I talked to my boss about getting a week off from my job in the public library. Sure thing, she said. I guess she remembers how I returned from the reunion last year invigorated, refreshed and demonstrating a renewed commitment to customer service. Okay, maybe not, but she gave me the time off.

Step Five: I made reservations at the San Antonio Doubletree.

Step Six: I made  my airline reservations. Actually, my wife made the reservations--for me and for her, too. Looking at her work schedule, she saw that she could come to San Antonio for part of the reunion.

So I'm in, though there's more to do.

Step Seven: Because my wife and I will fly to San Antonio on different days, I have to secure reliable transportation to the airport. My Mazda Miata, the object of my affection since 1991 (and the object of Terry Chesson's derision since 1993) is on the fritz. More accurately, it's on the hydraulic lift in the repair shop. Whether or not Old Blue can be resurrected remains to be seen. (No, Terry, it's not a piece of $**t; it's a classic that has seen better, more robust days. Like some people I know.)

Step Eight: Now that I know I'm coming to the reunion, I can start contacting friends who have never signed up and encourage them to attend. I've never been a saleman, a promoter or recruiter. But once you get an old shipmate to an NMA reunion, you're likely to see him year after year. Working on an old buddy can take time and persistence, but the payoff is worth it.

I know, because it's exactly how Terry Chesson got me to my first reunion.