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April 2005

Our Members Speak Out

South Court Inn, Luray, VA

We asked: Have you hosted any military personnel before and/or after deployment to Iraq?  Please share your experiences!  

Question for our May issue:  What are some of the funny//exciting/crazy things that have happened to you while renovating or building your inn?

Our thanks for this month’s question goes to Phyllis and Gene of the Isaac Hilliard House in Pemberton, NJ, located close to Fort Dix Army Post and McGuire Air Force Base. Phyllis shared some lovely thank you notes they’ve received from troops and their families:

  •  “Thank you so much for the hospitality and the Valentine candlelight dinner. This was our last night together, so this made it very special. We will return when Joe returns from Iraq.”  Joe & Jessica, KY

  • “Boots on U.S. soil...What a great feeling! This beautiful bedroom is a dream come true.”  Melba [on returning from Iraq]

  • “You were a God-sent blessing for my family, and made one of my last pre-deployment weekends a truly memorable occasion.  Hope to stay here again when I return home from Iraq.”  Dan, Terri & Brittany, SC


Here are some heart-warming stories: 

“My phone rang on September 23, 2001,* and a very polite man asked if we had any rooms available for Saturday night.  When I told him about our two-night minimum, he explained that it was his wedding night, and that they could only stay one night.  I laughed and gently chastised him: ‘I bet this is the only thing you had to do, plan the wedding night, and you waited until the last minute!’ 

“He told me they had an elaborate wedding and honeymoon planned for December, but he was being shipped overseas the following week and really wanted to get married before he left.  I fought back tears, and we gave them our very best suite at a special rate.  

“When they arrived at the inn, she was a vision of beauty in a cloud of white and lace; he had a warm smile that filled the whole room. The next morning, I asked my favorite question ‘So, how did you two meet?’  They shared a knowing look, then burst out laughing as they tripped over themselves to tell the story: They were both on a train.  She was on her way home from work, and saw a handsome soldier standing with duffle bags.  She got up from her seat, not to offer it to him, but to say ‘thank you,’ and then impulsively planted a big kiss right on his lips!  He laughed, she laughed, and she explained that she had never done anything like that before in her life. 

“*I will always remember that he phoned on September 23rd because a few hours later, my now-husband proposed to me!”

”Valentine’s weekend, 2005 was the best we’ve ever had. All our guests hit it off from the start...even the couple visiting a B&B for the first time. I had noticed his military email address when he first wrote in November about our Valentine’s Package and accommodations. After some correspondence, he booked our best room, plus in-room massages, tickets to local attractions, and dinner reservations. After they arrived for the big weekend, he told me he planned to propose. He brought champagne for me to cool and present with their dessert when they returned from the restaurant.  When they came back after dinner, I met them at the door.  He was smiling; she was radiant. We popped the cork and sat down with other guests in the living room to help them celebrate.  As time passed, he revealed his military connection and explained that he planned everything from Baghdad, where he had been deployed.  He corresponded with her parents, asked for their blessing, and looked at different B&Bs on the Internet before selecting our place.  The more he explained how the planning gave him something to focus apart from the war, the more we realized just what web access means to our troops.  Around midnight, everyone adjourned to their rooms, delighted to have shared the celebration. We are still basking in the glow of their getaway!” Tom & Anita Potts, South Court Inn, Luray, VA 

“We had the pleasure of hosting an Air Force soldier and his wife.  She had made the original reservation with our Inn for a two-night stay in February. Her husband was stationed in Turkey, guarding the borders, and was scheduled to come home after a nine-month deployment. She was so excited to have him home!  Unfortunately, she ended up rescheduling three times before he finally returned home. They arrived for a two-night stay in April, which we comped. His stories of his living conditions and the unbelievable heat made us very proud of our military. We were so pleased that our inn was chosen for their getaway.” Dianne & Dennis Debelak, The Homespun Country Inn, Nappanee, IN 

“We hosted a delightful young officer and his wife for the first time in October of 2003.  He had just that week returned from Iraq and she was a jewelry vendor at our small town's biggest event -- the Woolly Worm Festival! Before leaving they made a reservation for the same weekend in 2004.  Unfortunately, he was unable to accompany her, having been sent back to Iraq.  However, they are on the books again for this October and we pray he will be safely home and with her again.”  Robin & Mike Dunn, Perry House B&B, Banner Elk, NC 

“Our B&B is located five miles from Fort McCoy in Sparta, WI. We have had many husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, and family members stay with us, and our guestroom journals are filled with wonderful stories. We have had many guests stay when their loved ones return; these stays are happy but short because they just want to go home. The people who are going overseas are the ones that I cry with at the door before they leave,  and friendships that I will always treasure.”  Jennifer Dunn, Franklin Victorian B&B&, Sparta, WI 

“The Officers' Wives Club was planning a big ‘Welcome Home’ for the USS Enterprise when it returned from the Gulf. They requested a donation. Being the grandmother of a Navy man, I sent a certificate for a two-night stay. The couple who won it was great. He was in charge of the mail room on the ship; she was from Poland. They had met in Italy when she was living in Rome and he was stationed there. The high point of their visit was when he took her to the drive-in movie theater near our B&B; she had never heard of such a thing!"  Kathleen A. Panek, Gillum House B&B, Shinnston, WV

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