For several years now, the Marine Corps League of New Jersey has held its annual convention in Woodbridge. This year, the group ran into complications with its usual host hotel and found itself without a site, so Cape-Atlantic Marine Corps League Detachment 194 volunteered to pick up the slack.
The convention was held June 15 at the Clarion Hotel in the West Atlantic City section of Egg Harbor Township. Hosting the convention required a lot of work, Detachment 194 member Bob Fudala said, but the members were glad they did it, and so, too, were the visitors.
"We got a tremendous amount of compliments from it," Fudala said. "Best time they've had down here, so I guess we did a fairly good job."
About 150 members of the statewide organization attended. Events at the convention included the installation of new state officers, discussions of league business, award ceremonies and presentations on the previous year's activities by individual chapters.
While the convention itself was relatively dry, the attractions around the area provided visitors with a lot to do, and members of Detachment 194 spent much of their day shuttling visitors to and from Historic Smithville, Atlantic City and other destinations.
While the Atlantic City area had hosted the event before, it had been more than 10 years since the last was held here, said Detachment 194 Commandant Joe Patrick.
This year's convention was attended by national Commandant Jim Tuohy, and marked the first time for many local members to meet their national leader.
Tuohy, a Vietnam War Veteran, is formerly a New Jersey Marine Corps League member. A New York native, Tuohy joined the New Milford-based Gooney Birds detachment in the late 1970s before moving to Michigan, where he has served since. He was elected National Commandant in August 2012.
Detachment 194 Senior Vice Commandant Bill McGrudden said he was honored to be in Tuohy's presence at the convention.
"He probably doesn't go to every convention," McGrudden said. "I think it was really great, really nice to see him. He seems like a down-to-earth guy."
Because of the success of this year's convention, Patrick said there is a chance Detachment 194 will serve as the host for next year. The Clarion will likely be out as a host facility, he said, but he has already started contacting area hotels and casinos that could serve as locations.
Whatever happens, whether next year's convention is close by or he has to travel, Patrick said he can't wait to have the group back together again.
"We were glad to have everybody down here, and hopefully they'll come back, and we can act as good hosts," Patrick said. "But we look forward to it, wherever it is."
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