A National City donut shop operated by disabled veterans was dedicated Sunday to a United States Navy sailor killed in a 2013 helicopter landing mishap.
San Diego-based Lieutenant Commander Landon L. Jones was part of a crew conducting operations in the Red Sea in September 2013 when a large wave rocked the USS William P. Lawrence just as the MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter he was riding in was touching down.
The wave caused the deck of the ship to pitch up and the helicopter slammed into the deck before rolling into the water.
Jones and Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan S. Gibson were killed. Three other sailors aboard the helicopter survived.
Dunkin’ Donuts on East Plaza Boulevard in National City was dedicated in honor of Lt. Cmdr Jones in a special ceremony at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Franchisee Talisin Burton presented Jones widow Theresa with a large plaque that will hang in the restaurant, serving as a reminder of the man who gave his life in service to the United States.
Choking back tears, Theresa described how meaningful it was to have a place where Jones' memory can live on.
“We were never able to recover my husband's body and so there is a little bit of closure that has not happened," Theresa said. "There is no final resting spot for us to visit.
"For us to be able to come here, and I can bring the boys here, we can take a minute and sit — and sit next to my husband’s plaque and take a chance to remember him, it means a lot."
Part of the day’s proceeds will be donated to the Travis Manion Foundation, at the family's request. The Travis Manion Foundation supports the families of fallen veterans within the San Diego community.
The fundraiser will continue every year on Jones' birthday — April 27.
“They’re helping me to keep his memory alive and that means a lot," Theresa said. "Maybe somebody sitting in here drinking a cup of coffee will Google him and learn a little bit more about him."
The National City Dunkin’ Donuts is operated by Burton Restaurants, LLC, a disabled veteran-owned business whose management team has over 60 years of service between them. The group owns Dunkin’ Donut franchises at Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar and near the Naval Medical Center in Downtown San Diego.