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Opportunities, deals abound at annual Travel Extravaganza

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Holmes, NCO Academy, and wife, Megan, and daughter, Hazel, enjoy speaking with a representative from Universal Studios March 5 during leisure travel services’ Travel Extravaganza at The Landing. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Holmes, NCO Academy, and wife, Megan, and daughter, Hazel, enjoy speaking with a representative from Universal Studios March 5 during leisure travel services’ Travel Extravaganza at The Landing. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: March 14, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 14, 2014) -- With more than 1,000 people packing into The Landing’s ballroom March 5 to seek out deals for spring and summer vacations, organizers of Fort Rucker Leisure Travel Service’s 26th annual Travel Extravaganza said the event went smoothly and beautifully.

“We had 54 vendors and (more than) 60 door prizes,” said Michelle Harris, leisure travel services program manager. “It was a huge success!”

The event helped educate attendees on what the surrounding community, as well as neighboring states, have to offer in terms of entertainment and vacation stays, and presented something for everyone looking for the perfect getaway for their Family and budget needs.

“Vendors from all around (gave) participants new and updated information regarding their particular venue,” said Harris. “There were vendors from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and other areas.”

Among the vendors were tourism departments, chambers of commerce, vendors for hotels and amusement parks, and even vendors from the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation to highlight some things that people can take advantage of on the installation.

“We want to connect Soldiers, retirees, DOD civilians, and their Family members and all of the support staff on Fort Rucker to the surrounding community. We want them to know what is available—that they don’t have to stay on the installation if they don’t want to. There are so many options,” said Harris.

Leisure travel is meant to be enjoyable and stress reducing, she continued, adding that sometimes people need a change of scenery to be at the top of their game, even if it is just a day trip.

Sgt. Maj. Marvin Pinckney, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence G-3 sergeant major, agreed, saying that Soldiers need to take leave and enjoy time spent with Family away from the workplace and the installation to enjoy themselves.

“It is important for Soldiers to know what is available in the community so they can take advantage of it and get out there to enjoy life,” he said.

He reported that the last time he went on a true vacation was in 2012, and that the he wanted to attend the event to try to find a vacation for his eighth wedding anniversary.

That long of a time between vacations is not unheard of in the military, where it is hard sometimes for Soldiers to be able to take leave because of training or their mission, and to coordinate when spouses can take vacation or children to miss school.

Mali Rudolph, Army spouse, said it is a struggle for Families to get their schedules on the same page, and because of that she couldn’t even remember the last time her Family went on a real vacation.

“It can be hard for military Families to go on real vacations because you have to line up leave of both mom and dad and get the kids out of school. It can be a mess, and leave can be revoked if the mission calls for the Soldier to stay, and that is really stressful,” she said. “Not everyone has the opportunity to take leave or vacation when school is out for the summer or spring break, but Soldiers need to make it a priority to take care of themselves.”

Rudolph said the event was great to have for spouses and Soldiers who are new to the area so they can learn what the area has.

“I think spouses can really feel the support of the surrounding businesses and the installation,” she said. “It’s important to take a break and for Families to go on vacation so they can recharge their batteries to fully focus on their mission, and you can’t do that if you are exhausted.

“Fort Rucker does a lot for our community, and to gather all the vendors in one place for our convenience is great. They really give back to their Soldiers and the Families,” she continued.

W01 David Noakes, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, who is new to Fort Rucker as a Soldier in the Basic Officer Leadership Course, said that the event was a phenomenal opportunity for him and his wife to see what is out there in the local town.

“We were able to talk with people to learn more about the area and get some maps, because we are both kind of ignorant on what the South, in general, has to offer us besides driving to the beach,” he said. “We wanted to come because we like to travel. Coming from Germany, we got used to going away and exploring, so we wanted to continue that here by visiting old cities with history.

“Fort Rucker was spot on for this event. Thanks,” he added.

This article was originally published at

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