Most attendees traveling to the 141st General Conference & Exhibition will reach the Mile High City through Denver International Airport (reservation code: DEN, but referred to locally as DIA). It handles most major U.S. and regional airlines and is a hub for Frontier and Southwest.
If you’ve signed up for ground transportation on Aug. 29 or 30, look for signs marked MILE-HI NGAUS and volunteers in orange shirts on the way to baggage claim. They will direct you to buses to the conference hotels. The airport is about 25 miles from downtown Denver, so expect about a 40-minute trip.
Cabs, commercial shuttles, ridesharing and light rail are options on the other days. A cab is probably the simplest, but it’s also the most expensive. Fares usually top $45 each way. Light rail is the cheapest at $10.50, and it’s free for those who show a military ID to the driver.
But RTD (Regional Transportation District), as it’s known locally, requires some walking. It drops off at Union Station downtown, about a half-mile walk from the conference hotels. You can cut some steps by using the free 16th Street MallRide, which are buses that stop at every block.
The buses are the only motor vehicles on the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long, pedestrian-friendly street packed with shopping, restaurants, pubs and other attractions.
Drug stores along the 16th Street Mall are good places to beat the high cost of bottled water in most hotels. And you’ll probably need it in the Mile High City’s thin, dry air. Visit Denver, the city’s tourist bureau, recommends you drink twice as much water here as you would at home.
All meetings, most luncheons and the industry exhibition will be at the Colorado Convention Center, which hosts hundreds of events a year. It includes the Bellco Theatre, a sweeping 5,000-seat auditorium that will host the business sessions, which will begins at noon Aug. 31 with an opening ceremony featuring the local dance troupe The Silhouettes.
Confirmed speakers include four four-star generals: Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau; Gen, James C. McConville, the Army chief of staff; Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, the Air Force vice chief of staff; and Gen. John M. Murray, the commanding general of Army Futures Command.
A preliminary agenda for the business sessions and the Army and Air separate sessions is available at www.ngaus.org.
A professional development program for company-grade and junior warrant officers is again part of the program. A highlight figures to be a presentation on leadership in a survival situation by retired Col. Henry Fowler, who spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War.
There is also association business to conduct. This includes elections for the three representatives (adjutant general, Army and Air) on the NGAUS board of directors from Area I and Area IV, the Air company-grade rep and the Air retired/separated rep.
Conference delegates will also consider resolutions that will be the foundation for next year’s legislative agenda and proposed changes to the NGAUS bylaws.
As usual, the uniform for most meetings and sessions is Class B’s (short sleeves, open collar).
Another Big Show
Another large industry exhibition is on the agenda in Denver. Approximately 300 companies or organizations will display their latest products and services, according to SPARGO, the association’s show manager. Nearly a third for the first time at the NGAUS conference.
The association booth (No. 1636) again will be near the back of the nearly 200,000-square-foot show flow. This is where you can speak with NGAUS staff and purchase the 2019 National Guard Educational Foundation holiday ornament, which features the bronze minuteman in the grand foyer of the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony opens the exhibition at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 31, followed by a complimentary brunch on the exhibition floor.
Social events this year will again offer a sample of the best local sights, sounds and tastes.
Festivities get underway Aug. 30 with the Company-Grade/Warrant Officer Mixer at Mile High Stations, a preserved World War II-era shipbuilding ironworks. Visit Denver calls the landmark “a rare find with an ‘urban chic’ vibe.”
There will be plenty of food and drink. And the entertainment includes a silent disco, which will enable you to put in your earbuds and dance to the music of your choice. The event is open to company-grade officers and warrant officers up to chief warrant officer 3.
Local conference organizers this year have also set up an event for senior warrant officers Live at Jack’s, a jazz bar on the 16th Street Mall.
Meanwhile, the Adjutant General’s Reception (invitation only) takes place on the 38th floor of the former Quest Tower adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Denver. With its floor–to-ceiling windows, the Pinnacle Club provides panoramic views of the downtown skyline, the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak more than 100 miles away.
And for those who aren’t company-grade officers, warrant officers or TAG, local organizers are offering a casino trip and discount-ed ticket to the baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates. More information is on the Denver Updates tab on the conference page at www.ngaus.org.
Another big event is Governor’s Reception on Aug. 31 at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, which preserves the history of Lowry Air Force Base’s operations in a giant, refurbished World War II hangar. And on this night there will be plenty of free food, drink, music and activities, including corn hole, a mechanical bull to ride and a snowboard simulator.
Another popular social event figures to be Spouse’s Luncheon. It will begin at 11 a.m. Sept. 1 at Hyatt Regency Denver’s Centennial Ballroom. There will be food and music. The theme is “I Love the Guard.”
The conference concludes with the States Dinner on Sept. 2. The recommended dress is Denim & Diamonds. The menu will include some of the fin-est from Colorado ranches and farms. Multiple Grammy nominee Michael Martin Murphey will provide post-dinner entertainment.
The latest conference information, including an “attire guide,” is available under the Events tab at www.ngaus.org.
You can also stay updated by downloading the NGAUS Conference App sponsored by Armed Forces Benefit Association. It’s available at the App Store and Google Play.