By Ens. Sean A. Brophy USS Lassen, Public Affairs
On Sept. 25th, a ceremony was held to dedicate the new Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans’ Nursing Home in St. Augustine, Florida. Navy Cmdr. Clyde E. Lassen, a native of nearby Fort Meyers, Florida, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism as a UH-2 Seasprite helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
Drawing heavy enemy fire in the dark of night in North Vietnam, then Lt. j.g. Lassen risked his life to save two downed aviators on June 19, 1968. After returning from Vietnam, Lassen continued to serve and retired at the rank of commander in 1982. Lassen passed away in 1994, but the legacy of his service continues to live on through the State Veterans’ Nursing Home and the Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), both bearing his name.
Through the Tampa Navy League, a citizen organization that serves and supports U.S. sea services, USS Lassen contributed a commemorative plaque and letter that were presented during the dedication ceremony by Rear Adm. Eleanor Valentin, Commander, Navy Medicine Support Command.
“The 275 officers and crew who sail in USS Lassen, which was commissioned in Tampa in 2001 and now forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, serve with pride in knowing that their ship’s namesake was an American hero. In our daily operations, we strive to uphold the legacy of service that Clyde E. Lassen represents. We are glad that we were able to help honor the memory and service of Cmdr. Lassen during the dedication ceremony and feel privileged to share a special bond with the new State Veteran’s Nursing Home in St. Johns County,” said Lassen’s commanding officer Cmdr. H.B. Le.
U.S. Congressman John Mica and Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, the Adjutant General of Florida, were among the distinguished speakers to address the crowd of hundreds who gathered for the grand opening of the new 95,000-square-foot, 140-bed facility. Cmdr. Lassen’s family, veterans, and local community leaders were also in attendance for the dedication ceremony.
At a cost of $31 million, it is the first Florida veterans’ home to be named after a U.S. Navy veteran and the first Florida nursing home built as a LEED (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design) certified ‘green’ facility.