Growing up in my house meant sharing the holidays with family, friends and sometimes complete strangers. Although she could not bring all of them home for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, my grandmother would contact the USO at the Orlando Naval Training Center to invite two sailors who would not be able to travel home for the holidays. Once we picked them up from the Navy base (as we called it), our military guests were treated just like family – a holiday feast of Southern favorites, a comfy spot on the couch to let the food settle, and sometimes a trip to the next relative’s house for Round 2 of feasting.
ABOVE: Orlando Naval Training Center Service School Command
When we were little, my grandmother would always tell my sister and me as we passed the Orlando Naval Training Center on the way to the Fashion Square Mall, “Wink at the sailors.” Years later my mother would be called to pick up young sailors who needed a ride to church. The Naval Training Center made quite an exciting impact on the Orlando community and our family. My sister met and married one of the very fine sailors who graduated from the Nuclear Power School there.
VIEW great info and photos from the Orlando Naval Training Center at the MilitaryYearbookProject.com
VIEW information about the closing of the base in 1999.