Nacogdoches vet passes wisdom on to future Naval Academy student

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - At this morning's Memorial Day observance in Nacogdoches were a young woman leaving soon for boot camp at the U.S. Naval Academy and an elderly U.S. Navy veteran.

The Nacogdoches County residents had never met, so East Texas News introduced them to each other.

Decades separate them in age, but the United States Navy brings McNeil Grimes and Nicole Peer together. The icebreaker is discussion about every new Naval Academy student's biggest concern.

"Mostly basic training," Peer said. "It's something I've never been through before."

"Well, they'll wake you early and you'll double time everywhere you go, that's running," Grimes said.

Peer is accustomed to hard work. The perfect student with 46 Stephen F. Austin State University credit hours under her belt chose the Naval Academy over West Point.

"I want to major in aerospace engineering and that's not one of the majors at West Point," Peer said. "I want to be able to fly as well."

Grimes wasn't in the air, but in the belly of U.S. Navy ships as a third class motor machinist. Still, he has a lot to share with the officer in training.

"Survival in the water. How to abandon ship," Grimes said. "Feet first to protect yourself. Swim away from the ship because of fire. And you'll get training, training, training every day."

Such advice could lead to more anxiety, but Peer soaks it in for future reference.

"I have every confidence she'll make an officer, Grimes said.

At the very least, she'll have one lesson behind her as she enters boot camp.

"Do you know semaphore?" Grimes asked.


"A, B, C, D, E, F, G," Grimes said with a laugh. "That's about as far as I can remember."

One is hanging onto memories while another is building them.

Cason Monk Metcalf Funeral Directors hosted the Nacogdoches Memorial Day celebration. Gipson Funeral Home hosted the Lufkin event. Both are members of the Dignity Memorial Network.

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