Many men take on a second career when they retire from the U.S. Navy. Often, it’s related to the work they did while on active duty, but in a civilian environment.
Retired Master Chief Fire Controlman Pat Stroud took a somewhat different route.
Trained in the Navy to operate surface weapons systems like guided missiles, Stroud’s second career is in retail, but he’s surrounded by what’s called in the Navy “shipmates,” other people who served aboard combat ships.
Managing the Adams Class Naval Ship Museum Store at the Landing Downtown, Stroud works among artifacts from ships like the ones he served on while on active duty, the Adams-class guided missile destroyer.
The museum part of the operation exhibits authentic ship components, including a training version of a guided missile. The store part of the operation offers the largest collection of military-related caps in North Florida, plus clothing, accessories and souvenirs.
Stroud said the caps are a fast-selling item. In addition to the large active duty and retired military presence in North Florida, many armed forces groups have their annual reunions at Downtown hotels and that creates a stream of customers for the store.
“They are made by Eagle Crest, which is a local company and an official supplier to the Navy. Our caps are the same ones worn on the ships,” said Stroud.
Stroud works in the store five days a week, relieved on the other days by store volunteers who also are retired from the Navy.
Stroud said this weekend, there will be a rare storewide sale.
“In honor of Memorial Day, we’ll give all active duty and retired military personnel a 20 percent discount on any purchase on Sunday,” he said.
Stroud also serves on the board of directors of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association, a group whose mission is to preserve the USS Charles F. Adams, a guided missile destroyer currently retired and in storage at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
The organization plans to refurbish the vessel and bring it to Jacksonville to serve as a floating museum and tourist attraction near the Acosta Bridge Downtown.
Stroud and the other volunteers who work in the store provide a headquarters and visibility for the effort to raise funds for the project, said retired U.S. Navy Capt. John O’Neil, executive director of the association.
He said the Adams is the only remaining vessel of its type, making its preservation even more important.
“The ship is in good shape. It’s ready to be restored and brought to Jacksonville,” said O’Neil.
For more information about the store and museum and the association, visit adamsclassmuseum.org.