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thedrifter
05-15-08, 09:40 AM
Vet hopes to bring wounded soldiers to Naples for R&R

By JENNA BUZZACCO

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A North Fort Myers veteran is hoping Naples’ sunny beaches are just the right medicine for 21 injured Marines.

Seven months after bringing injured soldiers to Fort Myers for a weekend, Cliff Naylor is hoping to do the same in Naples for 21 Marines this July.

Naylor said he has been contacting Collier County officials about the project, and is in the early stages of planning. He said he plans to make a trip to Camp Lejune, North Carolina, in May to scout out Marines who would be interested in the weekend trip.

Naylor knows a thing or two about what it’s like to be injured during military service. He was a solider in Vietnam, and in 1967 was injured. He spent a year recovering at Fort Gordon. During his recovery, he took a weekend trip to Miami Beach courtesy of the American Red Cross.

“It was good for us,” he said. “It was fabulous, (and) after 40 years I want to pay back.”

He’s paid it back once already.

Naylor brought 21 wounded soldiers from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon down to Fort Myers last October for a long weekend. The soldiers, Naylor said, spent the weekend seeing the sights and talking to veterans about what they experienced.

The event was successful, he said, in part because of all the community support he received. Naylor said he got donations from area business owners, which meant the soldiers were able to spend the whole weekend in town for free.

Soldiers also received keys to the city, something he hopes will happen in Naples as well.

Michael Moose, the mayor’s assistant, said Naylor has contacted Mayor Bill Barnett’s office about the July visit.

Naylor said he’s also trying to get in touch with local businesses, in hopes that they’ll be willing to lend a helping hand.

“I know times are tough, but these are things we have to do,” Naylor said. “When they come home, they don’t get a welcome home (parade).”

Naylor said a special fund has been created at his North Fort Myers’ Veterans of Foreign Wars post for donations.

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To help

Collier and Lee residents can donate to the 21 Wounded fund by sending a check made out to the VFW District 13, Post 10127, 996 Pondella Road, North Fort Myers, 33903. Put “21 Wounded” in the memo line to ensure that the money will go toward bringing the Marines to Naples. Residents, or businesses, interested in donating goods can contact Naylor at the VFW post, (239) 995-0230.

Ellie