Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Day 201 - Steak, Shrimp and Stately Stuff

Recently, we told you about the folks in Dallas who welcome soldiers in a special way.

A few days ago, an anonymous patron picked up a hefty tab at The Fort restaurant in Colorado for the family of Marine Matt Heckithier, who were sharing a special dinner days before his deployment to Iraq. (Hat tip to my brother, Blair, for another great story.)

Speaking of restaurants, we forgot to mention another favorite during our visit last week to St. Augustine, FL, the oldest, continuously occupied European settlement in the United States.

Everybody we asked recommended O’Steen’s for the best shrimp in town. That’s saying something, for a town with over 150 restaurants.

Located on Florida Hwy A1A just off the Bridge of Lions, patrons regularly wait outside up to two hours for O’Steens famous fried butterfly shrimp and key lime pie, served on only 15 tables and the bar. Pack your cash when you go. No credit cards. No checks. Worth every penny. (Sorry, no web site, either. I did find these pics of O’Steens and the St. Augustine’s Lighthouse. Remember: the people are not us.)

We spent one day jumping on and off the trolley at many of the 20 stops along the route. One of my favorites was the Lightner Museum. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the collection features relics of America’s Gilded Age, elegantly displayed on the museum’s three floors.

A few blocks over, we rested inside the beautiful Memorial Presbyterian Church, 'dedicated to the glory of God for the virtuous Christian life' of Henry Flagler's daughter who died of chilbirth complications in 1889. The remains of Jennie Louise, as well as those of her mother and baby, are housed in the adjacent mausoleum. Modeled after St. Mark's Cathedral in Italy, the Venetian Renaissance Revival Style church was completed in only 361 days, just in time for the first anniversary of Jennie's death.

St. Augustine is sometimes called "America's Riviera," thanks to oil magnate Henry Flagler's vision to preserve many centuries-old structures. His initiative fueled a golden renaissance that added exciting new architectural and recreational features, transforming the once slumbering town into one of Florida's earliest resorts.

Definitely worth the trip.