JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Veteran residents from the Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans Nursing Home located in St. Augustine, Fla., visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville Nov. 13 to reminisce and receive a brief tour of the base.
"I have been volunteering at the Lassen facility for some time and frequently the vets there ask me about what's happening on the base," said Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast NEPA Planning and Compliance Coordinator Greg Timoney. "Some are prior Navy and almost all of them are still interested in how the military has developed since they left service."
The group of seven veterans were treated to a walking tour of the base historic aircraft display park and a windshield tour of the base flightline. NAS Jacksonville Assistant Hazardous Waste Manager Jody Smith provided a narration of the aircraft on display and spoke to the many efforts of the base to remain environmentally friendly while supporting operations during the flightline portion of the tour.
"It's incredible being able to spend time with these veterans," said Smith. "Being a veteran myself with 21 years of service in the Navy, I just love having a chance to interact with these folks who paved the way for me to serve."
Following the flightline tour, the group made their way to the Black Point Interpretive Center where NAS Jacksonville Natural Resources Manager Christine Bauer briefed the group on the center's mission. The group then headed to Mulligan's restaurant at the base golf course for lunch.
Sgt. Joseph "Tie-dye" Tillman, a former Marine who joined the Corps in 1967 and spent time in combat in Vietnam as an FO (Forward observer), was a first-time visitor to NAS Jacksonville.
"This base is very impressive," said Tillman. "I've really enjoyed the tour and our time here."
Navy retiree Roy C. Lightfoot was the oldest, but one of the liveliest members of the group. He first came to NAS Jacksonville in 1942 to attend A-school when he was 19 years old. He met and married his wife Mildred in St. Augustine that summer and after a 22 year career in the Navy, settled in Jacksonville.
"It's wonderful and rejuvenating to be back at NAS Jacksonville," said Lightfoot. "There have been tremendous improvements to the base since I was stationed here. I am impressed with the sharp sailors I've seen during the visit. I'm proud to be a part of the Navy."
Timoney volunteers with the veterans because he feels like he has to put a little karma back in the bucket. But explained that he he feels like he gets a lot more back from these heroes than he gives them.
The Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans Nursing Home located in St. Johns County at 4650 State Road 16, is one of six Florida State nursing homes for veterans. The 120-bed facility opened to residents in 2010 and offers skilled nursing care to veterans.