Exclusive Veteran Interview: Colonel Dave “Frosty” Seder, USMC (Ret.)

Decorated Aviator Recounts Three Decades of Service and Golden Eagles Reunion

Colonel Dave (Frosty) Seder was a senior in college contemplating a marketing career before he met a charismatic Marine recruiter in full dress blues with a photo of a Phantom F-4 fighter bomber. After a courtesy flight, Seder was hooked. Following graduation, he joined the Marines and excelled in Officer Candidate School and flight training. Arriving in Da Nang, South Vietnam as a 1st Lieutenant in early 1969, Seder piloted 500 bombing and reconnaissance missions, primarily in the Phantom F-4, and also the TA-4F Skyhawk and O-1 Bird Dog. He spent nearly 900 hours in combat, mostly over South Vietnam and Laos, including the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail.

“We hit a lot of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese bunker complexes, often from about 500 feet off the ground and sometimes less,” Seder said. The “Ho Chi Minh Trail was a heavily defended major supply line and our planes took some anti-aircraft hits, (one that pierced the windscreen inches from his head). We had some scares, saved some lives and killed a lot of bad guys. The Marines and soldiers on the ground and helicopter crews were really in harm’s way, and had it much harder than we did.”

Frosty and Molly at The Golden Eagles 2022 Reunion

Seder recently got to see many of his brethren aviators at The Early & Pioneer Naval Aviators Association Reunion April 7th to 10th at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Va. An elite organization, also known as The Golden Eagles, the 200-member group was established in 1956. Navy, Marine and Coast Guard aviators, Medal of Honor recipients, astronauts, aces and others who have contributed significantly to U.S. Naval Aviation, fill its ranks. The reunion was managed by Norfolk, Virginia-based Armed Forces Reunions, Inc., the nation’s leading military event planner since 1988.

“Our gathering was a tour de force, especially because of COVID preventing us from meeting the last two years,” said Seder who was inducted in 2012. “There was plenty of pageantry, but it’s always the people, sharing stories and catching up, all centering on camaraderie and respect.”

After leaving Vietnam as a captain in late 1970, Seder began a series of billets serving in numerous Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons (VMFAs), including on the USS America in 1971 for the first Marine deployment of Phantoms from an aircraft carrier. He went on to become a flight instructor and was promoted to Major in 1977, followed by several assignments as Flight and Training Operations Officer stateside and abroad. In 1978 as Operations Officer of VMFA-115 he developed the “Block Training Program,” which significantly improved the efficiency and proficiency for training Marine pilots. The program was adopted throughout Marine aviation and Seder was selected as the Marine Aviator of the Year for 1980.

“I’m very proud of that award, but it was really about the quick learning and performance of our guys in VMFA-115. It really worked out, and several of us were made strike leaders for our 1981 cruise on the USS Forrestal,” Seder said.

Promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1982, he became the Anti-Air Warfare Requirements Officer for the Marine Corps. Seder went on to contribute to the development and introduction of the F/A-18 Hornet and became commanding officer of VMFA–451, which flew the new plane. “I loved the Phantom and flew almost 4,000 hours in that plane, but the Hornet was a better fighter and bomber, the next generation, with extraordinary accuracy and a great weapon suite,” Seder said.

Promoted to full Colonel in 1988, he became the primary staff officer for logistics at the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in New Orleans, LA. “I learned so much at the 4th wing, which played a major role in Operation Desert Storm,” he said. Seder had several more command posts until his final tour as Chief of Staff at the Third Marine Aircraft Wing in El Toro, CA. He retired in 1997, but not before two flights on the Hornet and nearly 7,000 flight hours during his career. “The wonderful thing about all my billets is I was always able to fly,” said Seder, 78. “Anyone who knows ‘Frosty’ will tell you I love to fly.”

So how did Seder get the nickname Frosty? “It was in 1970 in a Phantom and the air conditioning got stuck at 65 degrees below zero centigrade for nine minutes. My feet were frozen, got a dose of frostbite and was in a wheelchair for three days. I recovered, and the call-sign stuck,” said Seder, who lives with wife Marion “Donna” Seder in Fairfax, Va.

In a career spanning 31 years, Seder earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, 43 Strike Flight Awards, two Legion of Merit Medals and scores of other decorations and accolades, but said the medals don’t quite resonate as much as accomplishing the missions. “Medals were more important when I was young. The three primary things I’m proud of today are first being a Marine; the squadron and group I was honored to lead and what those Marines and sailors accomplished; and my tours as Chief of Staff and Assistant Wing Commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Throughout my career I viewed an important part of my job as a leader and commander was to be there for the Marines and sailors to filter out the pressure and magnify the praise.”

After retirement from the Corps, Seder worked in the private sector and spent 20 years at Boeing as Director of Marine Corps Systems, essentially an interface between Boeing and the Marines on multiple levels. He fully retired two years ago – but once a Marine, always a Marine – he now serves on the board of the Marine Corps Aviation Association, on the Scarlet and gold Committee for the Marine Corps Scholarship foundation and as North East Flight Leader for the Golden Eagles. When asked if he still flies, Seder said: “Manned aviation flight has been around for about 120 years. I flew through about a quarter of that ‘sweet spot’ and feel pretty good about it. The skies are now best left to the young jockeys.”

By Scott B. McCaskey, Creative Writer for Armed Forces Reunions, Inc. and AFR Tours.

A Military Life: Five Star General Douglas MacArthur – Part 3

The Army’s Pioneering Public Relations Officer

Edward Louis Bernays, in the mid to late 20th century, was acclaimed as “the father of public relations” – a field described as the promoting and managing of an organization’s or an individual’s public image and reputation. But General Douglas MacArthur had already become an adept practitioner. The son of General Arthur MacArthur Jr., a Civil War hero and Medal of Honor recipient, young Douglas learned the importance of positive publicity and started early in shaping public perception for both the army and himself.

Born into the limelight due to his father and family lineage, the press covered MacArthur’s graduation at the top of his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1903. His dash and bravery in the Philippine-American War, Asia and Mexico brought notoriety and propelled him up the ranks. He courted the media spotlight and in 1916 became head of the Bureau of Information under the War Department, and essentially the Army’s first press officer. Readily available to the media through press releases, communiques, interviews and photo opportunities, he generated favorable publicity for the army’s successes and acted as a censor for mistakes. Cultivating a network of print and broadcast contacts, in 1917 MacArthur received a letter signed by 29 representatives of the nation’s largest media entities lauding his assistance. These connections would well-serve both the army and MacArthur for decades to come. His gallantry as a commander on the frontlines in World War I earned him a nomination for the Medal of Honor. He was appointed Superintendent of West Point in 1919 and promoted to U.S. Army Chief of Staff in 1930. Becoming Field Marshal of the Philippines in mid-1930s, he further expanded his public reach.

MacArthur was called back to active duty as Commander of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East in 1941, and appeared on the cover of the wildly popular Life Magazine the day after Pearl Harbor. After a daring escape in 1942 on a PT boat before the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, MacArthur arrived in Australia and became Commander-in-Chief, refusing the title of Supreme Commander, of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific. He prosecuted the war on and off the battlefield, establishing the Public Relations Office for Southwest Pacific Area Command. Macarthur supervised a sophisticated apparatus of trusted senior staff, and many photographers of the Signal Corps were assigned to cover his every move. Granted censorship authority of all war-related information coming out of the region, he controlled much of what the American public and allies would read, hear and see; extolling victories and minimizing losses. He directed Operation Cartwheel, a military operation devised to bypass and isolate Japan’s major base at Rabaul. The retaking of the Philippines was high on his agenda. MacArthur’s triumphant “I Shall Return” moment coming ashore in his cap and sunglasses in 1944 remains one of the most famous photos of World War II.

As Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and administrator of the successful post-war occupation of Japan, MacArthur’s military genius and larger than life image made him a household name. He was a widely celebrated figure here and abroad, holding press conferences, making public appearances and speaking his mind. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, MacArthur led United Nations Forces and was praised for his brilliant amphibious assault at Inchon, and repelling North Korean communists close to the Chinese border. However, he and the intelligence community were soon shocked when several hundred thousand Chinese communists flooded southward in a deadly onslaught. The surprise attack and huge setback soured MacArthur’s relationship with President Truman, who wanted a more limited conflict. The 5-Star General publicly aired his plans for an expansion of military action against the Chinese communists, and continued to contradict the president’s policies. He ignored gag orders and eventually Truman relieved him of duty on April 11th, 1951.

On his way home for a televised appearance at an April 19th Joint Meeting of Congress, the deposed general was greeted by massive crowds of supporters across the nation. He adapted effortlessly to the new medium of television, with more than 20 million people watching as he boldly explained his hard stance on China and communism. This Farewell Address to end his military career still resounds in his famous quote: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” On the following day millions of people cheered his motorcade in an enormous ticker tape parade in New York City. MacArthur was more popular than the president among many Americans.

Nevertheless, with a war-weary nation and the changing politics and military strategies of the Cold War, MacArthur’s stars began to lose some shine. He had his detractors, particularly in Washington, throwing accusations of arrogance, egomania, dismissive nature and missteps. Also lost was his hope of becoming the Republican presidential candidate for the 1952 election. Still, he remained heralded and supremely respected by a majority of the public, press and military, as well as becoming a pop culture figure. Recordings and songs of his Farewell Speech, MacArthur puzzles, figurines, comic books and even thermometers bore his name. Most of the media connections he established remained, again making the cover of Life Magazine in 1955. In the early 1960s President Kennedy met with MacArthur three times seeking counsel about Vietnam. The retired general advised to avoid a land war in Southeast Asia and hold the line at Japan, Formosa (Taiwan) and the Philippines.

MacArthur again made the cover of Life in January 10th, 1964, less than three months before his passing on April 5th. Another Life cover story appeared afterwards in memorial. He made the covers of both Life and Time magazines six times during his career.

One of the most recognizable people of the 20th century, his cap, sunglasses and corn cob pipe were salient parts of the MacArthur well-crafted signature look. The image embodied his confidence, controversial force of nature character and world-shaping presence. Complemented by an acute understanding and practice of public relations and promotion, his stature remained in the public eye. Legendary actor Gregory Peck played the title role in the 1970 film “MacArthur”. Countless books, articles and documentaries examining both the positive and negative aspects of his career and life continue to be published to this day. More than 5 million people and counting have visited the MacArthur Memorial and vault in Norfolk, Virginia, his mother’s hometown, which he also considered his. One has to ponder how MacArthur would fare in today’s public relations-centric world on the internet and social media. Judging from past performance, it is likely he’d use it quite effectively.

For much more detailed information, visit Norfolk, Virginia’s MacArthur Memorial and its current exhibit: “Command Presence: MacArthur, Media, and Mass Appeal.”

 

 

 

 

 

By Scott B. McCaskey, Creative Writer for Armed Forces Reunions, Inc. and AFR Tours.

How To Plan A Military Reunion

What Can You Do To Make Your Reunion A Success and Maximize Attendance?

 

Military reunions have been taking place in one form or another for as long as Americans have been serving their country. The first recorded reunions came after the Civil War, when Union and Confederate veterans would meet to help reconnect and heal the broken country. Many of these reunions revolved around the most famous battle – Gettysburg. There were numerous small reunions held in the decades following the battle. During a 1906 reunion of the Philadelphia Brigade and Pickett’s Division, Brig. General Lewis Armistead’s captured sword was returned to the South. Shortly after that, planning began for a Battle of Gettysburg 50th Reunion that was held a few years later – the ‘1913 Gettysburg Reunion’. Over 50,000 Union and Confederate veterans were in attendance from June 29 – July 4.

For generations veterans have been meeting to renew the unique bonds created through service, and Armed Forces Reunions, Inc. was fortunate to serve “The Greatest Generation” of WWII veterans when their reunions were in full swing in the 1980s. We’ve planned reunions for every branch of service in over 150 cities for veterans of every war, conflict, and peace time since WWII. Each group has their own identity, mantra, and personality; but all military reunion groups exist for the same purpose: to renew a sacred bond that only those standing next to you in uniform can understand, and to help with reintegration back into normal life.

A Military Reunion is a unique event and has requirements no other events do, which creates a challenge in your planning. Reunions have always been meant to be as inclusive as possible for the attendees, and every reunion coordinator wants the event to be as well attended as possible. There are certain things that can be done in your planning to ensure you maximize attendance and have a memorable event that leads to more reunions. Armed Forces Reunions, Inc. has long had the reputation of planning the most successful and well attended reunions, because of our focus on the core principles and purpose of a reunion. So, if you have been tasked with planning your group’s next reunion, you’re part of a new group that is planning your first formal reunion, or even if you’ve been planning your group’s reunion for years – don’t reinvent the wheel or spend hours of needless time looking for the right city and the perfect hotel.

Before you start planning and choosing a city to visit – remember the purpose of the event: to spend time with each other as a group. You need a central gathering place which is why reunions are held in hotels that have function space and the ability to cater meals. The Hospitality Room is your central gathering place for the duration of the reunion, whether for two or five days – where all attendees can be together in the same room. This is the heart and soul of the reunion. You are probably thinking that a hotel function room is the last place you’d want for having fun with old buddies, so what exactly is the Hospitality Room? It should be in a hotel meeting room that has plenty of space to spread out, have seating at round tables, with memorabilia if folks are inclined to bring and share memorable items, AND you should be allowed to bring in your own alcohol and self-serve – yes that is possible in a hotel. Imagine having your favorite bar rented out for an entire weekend for your unit’s use – for free. THAT is what a good hospitality room is and THAT is what makes a reunion successful. Veteran groups have been doing exactly this for decades.

So easy enough, right? Just pick a city and tell the hotels what you need and you’re done! Unfortunately, it is nowhere near that simple. Not every hotel will allow this Hospitality Room and not every city has hotels that will allow this. Frankly, most hotels DO NOT allow this. Plus, you need to sign a group Hotel Contract for the event, and this is anything but straightforward. Hotel contracts have become so complex, risky, and one-sided that you really need a professional in your corner to ensure you are getting the best deals, and more importantly – that you don’t end up with a big financial penalty after the event for not meeting the hotel’s performance requirements.

Choosing the destination is as important as the hotel. How will people get there? Will they need to rent a car? Take a long uber from the airport to the hotel? Pay high parking costs? Anything that brings additional expenses will hurt your attendance. The point of reunion planning is to make it so anyone who wants to attend can afford to attend. Choosing a city that is easy to fly or drive to is a must. Does the hotel have free airport shuttles? Does it have free parking? How many connections does it take to fly there? You’ll have attendees from every corner of the country, so make sure the city chosen is easy to get to.

The biggest mistake groups make in the planning process is selecting a city and dates before talking to hotels or a professional. Again, not every city will have a hotel that allows the Hospitality Room that you need. And maybe the dates you selected are too high demand, making the room rates very expensive. Or maybe there is an annual festival or citywide convention that sells out all hotel at very high rates. Before you communicate dates or locations to your group, give us a call to talk about what locations are the best for military reunions and what time of year will get you the best room rates. This is setting yourself up for success from the very beginning. We have groups call us all the time after they’ve wasted weeks, even months talking to hotels in a city that just simply is not ‘reunion-friendly’. But they’ve already gone too far down the road and have membership expecting a reunion there, so they are stuck having a sub-par reunion.

There are many more details and nuances that go into planning a formal reunion, but these things are by far the most important and getting them right will make the rest of your planning so much easier. Not enough time or thought spent on this process will make the rest of your planning very frustrating. Armed Forces Reunions, Inc. is here to help and to guide you down the path to great reunions. Generations of veterans before you have relied on our sound advice, expert hotel negotiating skills, extremely detailed planning, and general expertise in military reunions.

Give us a call today to talk about your ideas, learn more about planning a successful reunion, and to find out how AFR will get you there.

Charley Dey | 757-625-6401 | charley@afri.com

A Military Life: Five Star General Douglas MacArthur – Part 2

Artifacts and Personal Effects Illuminate the Man and Times

Many people are familiar with the famous photos of Five-Star U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur wading onto the shoreline donning his signature cap and sunglasses in his triumphant return to the Philippines in World War II. Many have also seen pictures of him smoking his corn cob pipe. These and literally millions of other artifacts, personal effects, documents, collections, newsreels, memorabilia and donations are all in Norfolk, Virginia’s MacArthur Memorial. The Memorial also honors the millions of men and women who served under him and in the U.S. armed forces from the Civil War through the Korean War. The three-building complex, highlighted by the towering rotunda, houses the largest collection of the MacArthur legacy in the world. He was the most decorated officer in U.S. military history, and the facility showcases his many medals as well as weaponry, uniforms, battle and war exhibits, maps, and souvenirs. It is the final resting place of the great general and his wife Jean. His mother, Mary Pinkney Hardy, was a Norfolk native and her son considered the city his true home.

MacArthur’s dashing and somewhat imposing image of warrior giant is evident in the memorial’s artifacts observing his service and achievements. Authors, scholars, news media, and genealogists from across the globe come here to study the more than two million documents, 600 films and 30,000 books – including MacArthur’s original 5,000 volume collection. Legendary actor Gregory Peck visited to research for his role in the 1977 film “MacArthur.”  There are donated collections and gifts from military associates, heads of state, admirers and friends. Precious vases, statuary, paintings, murals and other tributes are not only from liberated citizens of Asia and the world, but even the vanquished, who both feared and respected the man.

Among the most popular exhibits are his 1950 Chrysler Crown Imperial Limousine, the pens used to sign the Japanese surrender documents, newsreel footage from the surrender on the USS Missouri, a priceless post-surrender photo signed by both MacArthur and Japanese Emperor Hirohito, and a restored encyclopedia of Japan that was presented to the emperor in 1670. There is also a fascinating movie short about the highlights of MacArthur’s life and career. MacArthur is widely perceived as just the commanding iconic American general, but his career began as a soldier fresh out of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1903.

He was soon in hand-to-hand combat against rebels in the Philippines and Mexico, followed later in World War I. His pistol and derringer from those early days are here. Other poignant pieces include the platinum signet ring of Philippines President Manuel Quezon, who shortly before the fall of his nation slipped it onto MacArthur’s finger and said: “When they find your body, I want them to know you fought for my country.” Quezon soon left by submarine for Australia, followed afterwards by MacArthur in a daring and dangerous escape on a PT boat. Other artifacts of note are the American-made Colt pistol and bullet that Imperial Japanese Army General Hideki Tojo used to attempt suicide, and the ropes that bound Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita before he was hanged. Sketches by the acclaimed artist Ben Steele show the suffering of POWs in the Philippines’ Bataan Death March, which Steele survived. On a lighter note is MacArthur’s beloved purple/gray wool bathrobe, highlighted by the letter “A” that he received as a cadet playing on the West Point baseball team. He even wore it in a meeting with President Lyndon Johnson.

The memorial also hosts a variety of rotating special exhibits, including its currently running “Command Presence: MacArthur, Media and Mass Appeal.” The presentation observes his relationship with news organizations, public and political perceptions, and his advent into a pop-culture figure. Past exhibits have included “The Liberation of the Philippines” and “UN Command in Korea.”

Since opening in 1964, more than five million people have visited. Centrally located in downtown Norfolk’s MacArthur Square, the memorial is free and open to the public, with guided tours available. Each of its three buildings provides a unique experience. The primary structure is the rotunda burial site and museum, which has nine galleries holding many of the complex’s treasures, and is the original Norfolk City Hall and Courthouse dating to 1850. In front is a larger-than-life bronze statue of the general by award winning artist Walker Hancock, and is the only duplicate of the original effigy that stands at West Point.  Adjacent is the Visitors Center, which features numerous photos and exhibits – including MacArthur’s limousine, the movie theater, stored collections and gift shop.

Despite MacArthur’s famous quote, “Old soldiers never die – they just fade away,” his legacy lives on at the memorial. Military reunions are especially welcome, and the grounds of the Memorial are well-suited to group memorial services.

If you’re interested in bringing your group to Norfolk to see this hidden gem and the many other popular attractions that have brought reunion groups here for decades, visit BookMyReunion.com/Visit-Norfolk/ to get started on your hotel selection process or give us a call today at 757-625-6401.

By Scott B. McCaskey, Creative Writer for Armed Forces Reunions, Inc. and AFR Tours.

AFR’s BookMyReunion.com: Hotel Selection Made for Veteran Groups

What is the single most annoying thing about planning a military reunion?  ANSWER: Finding a hotel that understands the special needs of a reunion, that won’t bankrupt the group’s treasury with scary performance clauses, and that allows BYO alcohol in a meeting room for hospitality.  After all, a military reunion happens in the hospitality room!

Groups reach out to us all the time after spending months of their time searching for the perfect hotel, only to find that most will not allow alcohol in the hospitality room, won’t give meeting space for free, or offer penalty-free attrition and performance clauses.  Stressful?  Most reunion chairpersons dread the site selection process because of these difficulties; so, one of a few things ends up happening.

1) Someone volunteers to plan the reunion, then never does it again because it was a massive headache! Most groups have a new volunteer every year and, he or she likely doesn’t know what they’re doing.  Why would they?  Contracting with a hotel has gotten complex.

2) The same chair handles it every year, and maybe relies on a local member in the reunion city to assist with researching hotels and activities. This process takes a long time and you’re not getting the best deals because you are a one-off piece of business to the hotels.

3) The same chair handles it, and you rotate to the same cities year after year, because it’s easier to go back to a hotel that was good five years ago. The chair does this because it’s EASY!  But don’t group members want to visit new and exciting cities with great tours?

What if you COULD visit a new city each year, but have the process be easy and pain-free?  What if you could be connected directly to the hotels nationwide that meet all your “reunion-friendly” needs? What if you never had to worry about Attrition penalties or Food & Beverage Minimums again? What if the site selection and hotel contract process only took you a few weeks?

BookMyReunion.com does all of these things and is the premier Military Reunion Hotel Booking service.

Armed Forces Reunions (AFR), having planned military reunions since 1988, has solved these site selection and contracting problems for reunion groups of all sizes. Our founder and one of the nation’s leading hotel contract attorneys for non-profits wrote a hotel contract that AFR uses nationwide.  It is written to address all a military reunion’s needs and mandates NO Room Attrition and NO Food & Beverage Minimum.  There is nothing like it in the hospitality industry and only AFR groups can take advantage of it.  We have a growing network of dedicated hotel partners that accept AFR’s Risk Free Hotel Contract, and YOU can meet all your group’s needs simply by going to AFR’s BookMyReunion website at this link:  https://www.bookmyreunion.com/top-destinations/

Haven’t secured a hotel yet for the 2022 reunion? Want to get a head start on 2023? HIT THE EASY BUTTON this time! Head to BookMyReunoin.com/Top-Destinations and click on the city you’re interested in. Simply fill out the form and hit SEND. Our hotel partners in that city that accept this contract will reach out directly to you within a few business days. Now you are on your way to a worry-free reunion with loads of freebies and special concessions designed for military reunions.