NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – Veterans, active-duty military members and their families gathered Thursday for a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Naval Station Mayport.
Many sailors who are currently serving can’t be home with their families, so the meal offers a place for them to come celebrate Thanksgiving as a military family.
“We enjoy coming to the military bases,” veteran Bill Moyer said. “The food is always good. Camaraderie between the veterans.”
Some even lined up before the doors opened at 1 p.m.
“It is a lot of veterans here with families and those who can’t spend time with their families, so it is great for my team to put forth the effort and bring it home, because, you know, they did it, and now we’re doing it for them,” culinary specialist Patrick Dixon said.
It’s camaraderie at its best for more than 500 people expected to enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving meal at the base.
“All of us have served either prior to today or today or in the future, and it’s about coming together as family and being thankful for having each other,” said Teri Zehnacker, command master chief at Naval Station Mayport. “This becomes your family over time, and sometimes this is our one and only family, so to be able to sit down and break bread together -- there’s nothing better than that.”
The day took lots of planning and preparation.
“It’s nice to see that everyone is smiling and enjoying the meal, especially if you don’t have to do the dishes,” Dixon said.
Mayport hosts the meal every year as an appreciation for service members, veterans and their families.
“Doing what I do for my country, because I love my country,” said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Cody Johannes, with port operations.