Naval Station Mayport lifts service members' spirits with annual Christmas dinner

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Christmas is often celebrated with family and loved ones, but many military members spend the holidays away from their own.

Action News Jax spent the day at Naval Station Mayport as they helped keep spirits up with an annual Christmas dinner.

Service members are normally deployed or stationed overseas during the holidays, and they do everything they can to bring the Christmas spirit to their duty stations. That’s what Naval Station Mayport is doing with their annual Christmas dinner.

“This is a great Crowd! As always, every Christmas is this way at the Naval Station Mayport. It is a great mix between our active duty, civilians, and our retirees,” Naval Station Mayport Commanding Officer Commanding Officer said.


Among those retirees--former U.S. Navy Captain Charles Armstrong who retired after 30 years of service. When asked about the missed holiday time with his family over the years, he couldn’t hold back his tears.

Armstrong is now focusing on the time he has with his family during this holiday season.

U.S. Navy Captain Charles Armstrong said, “It’s always difficult, but the job was great, the Navy was wonderful, and I have a great family.”

Food service officer Karen Thompson has been serving for seven years. She says she knows the struggle of spending time away from family.

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“Out of those seven years, four of those years were at sea where I missed Christmas with my kids. Three of them have been on shore. This year my son volunteered to come to help me during Christmas. It meant a lot for him to come,” Food Service Officer Karen Thompson said.

One couple is experiencing the Naval Station Christmas tradition for the first time.

Visitor Reo Mcelhey Wallace said, “I wanted to get somewhere that we can relax, enjoy ourselves, and be around like-minded people doing the same type of things.”

We spoke with several troops who said they were thankful to be able to spread some holiday cheer.

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