Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Rick Scott visits Pasco nursing home to recognize veterans

LAND O'LAKES — The veterans sat in wheelchairs, wisps of gray poking out from ball caps commemorating World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

As cameras flashed and family members daubed tears, the men and women leaned forward one by one and Gov. Rick Scott draped medals around their necks.

The governor awarded the medals — called the Governor's Veterans Service Award — to 132 veterans, including staff, at the Baldomero Lopez State Veterans' Nursing Home on Thursday morning.

Accompanied by Al Carter, deputy executive director of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the governor met with the veterans separately and thanked them. He spent about an hour at the care center.

"It was a very, very big surprise because I figure he doesn't have much time to spare," Angel Torres-Mendez, 84, a retired Green Beret who fought in Vietnam, said after the ceremony.

The event was part of a tribute to veterans statewide. Last month, Scott visited the Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans' Nursing Home in St. Augustine.

The elderly vets lined up in rows of wheelchairs at about 9 a.m. as the governor and other speakers, including state Sens. Wilton Simpson and John Legg, offered remarks from a podium.

"The freedoms and opportunities afforded by the American dream were paid for by the service and sacrifice of our brave veterans," Scott said. "That's why it's so important to honor and give thanks to our American veterans."

After the remarks, he walked down the rows, leaning toward the men and women — some in chairs but many in wheelchairs — to award the gold-colored medals tethered to red-and-white ribbons.

Many shook hands, smiled and thanked the governor. Some, stooped by age, could only shake his hand.

Loreen Quilligan of North Tampa said she attended the ceremony to watch her husband, Neil, 81, receive a medal. Suffering from Parkinson's disease, he entered the care center in March.

"It was very nice," she said. "It's nice to remember these men and what they did for us. So many of them have no one left now."

Rich Shopes can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

Gov. Rick Scott visits Pasco nursing home to recognize veterans 09/05/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 6, 2013 12:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 18: Despite feeling ill, this pilgrim passes the midpoint in her 500-mile journey on foot


    Day 18: Lédigos to El Burgo Ranero: 34.3 km, 12.25 hours (Total for Days 1-18 = 428 km (266 miles)

    Today was a struggle.

  2. Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show


    Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

    "Here's what's so …

    Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.
  3. For starters: Souza returns to lineup



  4. Actor John Heard dies at age 72


    John Heard, who played so many roles in the '80s but was probably best known as the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died, according to media reports. He was 72.

  5. Linkin Park cancel tour, including Tampa concert, after death of singer Chester Bennington


    This news is not a surprise, but it is now official: Linkin Park has canceled their upcoming North American tour following this week's death of singer Chester Bennington.

    Linkin Park's Chester Bennington