Local veterans have breakfast with senator

23 Oct 2009 | Lance Cpl. R. J. Driver

Marine Corps and Navy retirees stood in formation outside of the Air Station mess hall early Saturday morning. These local veterans gathered at the mess hall for a veteran’s breakfast with Lt. Col. Derek Richardson, the Air Station’s executive officer, Sgt. Maj. David Zapp, the Air Station’s sergeant major, and Sen. Tom Davis, the senator of South Carolina.

While eating breakfast, the veterans were given updates concerning the Air Station from Richardson and Zapp. They covered topics ranging from new construction to base operations. Davis informed the veterans about the operations and plans for Beaufort and it’s surrounding counties and the establishment of a Beaufort Retiree Council.

“It’s important the veterans are informed,” Davis said. “The military makes up a great majority of the population, not only in Beaufort, but surrounding counties also.

“Without their support, it would be difficult to begin some plans we have in place. A retiree council will give them a way to voice their opinions and make a difference.” Davis continued.

Veterans noticed changes since they were last on the Air Station, from the front gate to the mess hall. According to Richardson, a lot has changed about the Air Station.

“I’ve always been a Beaufort Marine,” Richardson said. “I’ve worked with several squadrons and I’ve seen a lot of changes, some minor, some major, but changes nonetheless. These changes are to improve the operations of the Air Station and to make ready for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

The mention of a new aircraft invoked plenty of questions. Veterans were concerned with noise levels, how quickly they will be used in combat, accuracy, top speed and workforce increase aboard the Air Station.

“All the questions were very relevant and we were prepared for them,” Zapp said. “It’s easy to see where they’re coming from because in a couple years or so, I will be in their shoes.”

Davis capped off the breakfast with assurance that the veterans will see changes in the area to beautify and bring revenue to Beaufort County.

“They will never be forgotten and play a vital role in our community,” Davis said. “They’re the volunteers, your neighbors, voters and more.”