UNF honors military veterans, including WWII vets

Annual event connects university with military community

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Honoring the men and women who serve our country, the University of North Florida hosted a Veterans Day tribute and recognized World War II veterans as part of the city of Jacksonville's Week of Valor.

It hit home for World War II veteran John F. Frank.

"It brings back a lot of memories," said Frank. "Men I know who died ... and I was lucky enough to survive."

As a Navy Seaman First Class, Frank was aboard the ships bringing troops and tanks to Normandy in 1944. It was D-Day and Frank said many troops lost their lives from German gunfire before they even made it onto Omaha Beach.

"There's always families that are in sorrow for years and years when they lose their loved ones," Frank said.

So, he's honoring those men who fought beside him at UNF's Veterans Day tribute. The annual event brings dozens of University staff community members and veterans together. 

More than 1,300 UNF students have a military affiliation. UNF has several programs to help with things like applications, accessing benefits and even finding a job after graduation.

"Veterans here are non-traditional students," Bob Buehn, director of Military Veterans Research Center at UNF. "They're a little bit older and focused on their degrees and they support each other."

During the ceremony the UNF drill team and Brass Quintet performed. Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, commander of the Navy Region Southeast, was the honored guest. The event was  supported by several organizations that benefit veterans like the USO, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Wounded Warrior Project.  

Proudly wearing his Navy hat, Frank was thankful for all of the support the Jacksonville community showed.