Showing posts with label MacDill Air Force Base. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MacDill Air Force Base. Show all posts

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Florida Air National Guard Airman saved driver from burning car

Florida Air National Guard Airman Awarded Airman's Medal

Department of Defense

Airman First Class Peejay Jack, a vehicle maintainer assigned to the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron, Florida Air National Guard, was awarded the Airman's Medal by Major General Lenny Richoux, Commander, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, during a ceremony on MacDill Air Force Base, Feb. 9, 2019. Airman Jack rescued a trapped motorist from his rapidly burning vehicle during a morning commute.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Montford Point Marines Honored at MacDill Air Force Base

Medal honors black Marines who served despite discrimination in WWII
Tampa Bay Times
Howard Altman, Times Staff Writer
Friday, January 27, 2017
"When they would go out on furlough, the black Marines couldn't go certain places," she said. "There was an incident on a train to New York. They were trying to put out my father, but the white Marines all stood up and said, 'No, we are all Marines, stay right here.'"
TAMPA — In 1943, as the Marines were slogging through a bloody Pacific island-hopping campaign, two good friends from Nyack, New York, showed up at a recruiting station to join the fight.

David Knight was given orders to report to boot camp within a week. His friend, Charles Robert Fountain, passed the physical too, but then had to undergo questioning about his personal life, education and marital status. It would be seven months before the corps would accept him.

The difference?

Knight was white, Fountain black.

Friday at noon, Fountain's service as one of the first black Marines was honored during a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base presided over by the commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command, Lt. Gen. William Beydler. Fountain's daughter, Kim Fountaine of Ruskin, received a Congressional Gold Medal, awarded to those black Marines stationed at the Camp Montford Point — a rundown barracks outside of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where some 20,000 were housed in substandard, segregated quarters between 1942 and 1949.
read more here
Feb 12, 2012
Last night at the Orlando Nam Knights there was a surprise guest. Charles O. Foreman, a WWII veteran, member of the Montford Point Marines came. He is part of the group of Marines receiving the Congressional Gold Medal. At 87 he is just amazing. No matter what he had to go through because of the color of his skin, he'd do it all over again. He credits the Marines with making him the man he is today.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Senate Confirms Two Generals Heading MacDill Air Force Base

Senate confirms Army generals for key military posts
Associated Press
By Richard Lardner
Published: March 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama's choices to lead two of the military's most important warfighting commands.

Gen. Joseph L. Votel and Lt. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III attend a Senate hearing on March 9, 2016. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP
Senators late Thursday approved the nominations of Army Gen. Joseph Votel to run U.S. Central Command and Gen. Tony Thomas to take over as the top officer at U.S. Special Operations Command. Both commands are headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
read more here

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Combat Medic Florida National Guardsman Paying Price for 9-11

If you forgot about 9-11-2001, there were a lot of folks rushing to do whatever they could to help the survivors and find whatever remains they could. One of them was an Army National Guardsman from right here in Florida. Reading his story and what happened to him, it only seemed right to put into context what he did back then. This is from Tampa Tribune great report by Howard Altman.
Garrett Goodwin was a medic, working in the emergency room at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, in September 2001.

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, he was in bed, watching TV before an afternoon shift, when he saw what turned out to be United Flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Goodwin, a combat medic with the Army National Guard who had experience in disaster recover efforts, says he packed his bag, hopped in his truck and drove down to MacDill Air Force Base, hoping to catch a flight north to help during the unfolding catastrophe.

But nothing was flying anywhere. So he and a friend drove north, toward the Pentagon.

“We did rescue work for three or four hours, but there was no one to save, so we went to New York,” Goodwin says.

They arrived about 6:30 a.m., Sept. 12. Goodwin says he checked in with the military authorities on scene, they told him what he could do, and he was given a “red card” allowing him access.

For the next 24 days, he worked between 18 and 20 hours in what used to be the tallest building in America. It had become a mass grave.
So how did he end up this way?

Tampa man ill just now from help he gave at Ground Zero
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
Published: September 27, 2015

Garrett Goodwin is a casualty of al-Qaida’s war against the U.S.

Shortly after the jihadi organization turned aircraft into weapons, obliterating the World Trade Center in New York, hitting the Pentagon and crashing into a Pennsylvania field, Goodwin made the trip from Florida to Manhattan to help recovery efforts. He spent more than three weeks in the smouldering pile of twisted beams that was once the World Trade Center — the place where Pope Francis on Friday summoned the world to “unity over hatred.”

Now, Goodwin is paying the price.

It includes a stay, since last Tuesday, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he is desperately seeking help for the maladies he believes are a result of his time at Ground Zero.

Finally, after a health scare that started on the 14th anniversary of the attacks, Goodwin realized he needed greater medical attention.

There are many others like him — first responders who have became casualties of war by dint of their time searching the wreckage, first for survivors, then for remains.

Every day, there are more Garrett Goodwins, coming forward seeking help.
read more here

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Funds Raised in Tampa For PTSD Medical Marijuana Research

Tampa Cannathon Raises Awareness and Funds for PTSD Research
Marijuana Investor Summit
By: Marguerite Arnold
July 17, 2015

By the time people organize road races to raise money and awareness for a health condition, it is well on its way to the mainstream. In Tampa last weekend, on July 11, 2015, FCCActive, a local non-profit promoting medical cannabis use as part of a healthy lifestyle, organized the state’s first 5K cannabis-themed road race to help veterans and their families understand post-traumatic stress disorder and how to treat it, including with the use of cannabinoids. The event took place near MacDill Air Force Base.

“PTSD is a debilitating illness and it’s for real and it’s a problem,” said Garyn Angel, CEO of Magical Butter, a Port Richey-based company sponsoring the event, told Creative Loafing Tampa, a local zine. “If you watch what’s happened with the suicide rate for veterans, it’s staggering.” Angel’s company manufactures kitchen plant extractors that medical users can use to make cannabutter at home.

While many different kinds of individuals suffer from PTSD, which is essentially the body’s triggering of extreme stress and flight-or-fight mechanisms long after a traumatic event, the vast majority of those suffering the most are the nation’s veterans, who are still routinely banned from using the drug even under a doctor’s care. Furthermore, veterans “convicted” of medical marijuana use can lose other benefits, and of course, can still be arrested for trying to treat a difficult-to-manage and life-long health condition. There is still no state in the country, including Colorado, where users, even for medical purposes, do not face discrimination on the job or the threat of being legally fired for off-the-job, medical use.

Veterans are also on the front lines of this war too. Last year, Princeton University made the news when an 18-year employee, who was also a military veteran, lost his job for being part of the New Jersey medical marijuana program.

“[Veterans] have sacrificed and suffered the most for our freedom. Yet today many of our nation’s veterans lack the freedom to safely and effectively treat the paralyzing effects the invisible scars of battle can leave behind,” said Pete Sessa, COO of the Florida Cannabis Coalition.
read more here

From the Department of Veterans Affairs

Marijuana as a Treatment for PTSD

The belief that marijuana can be used to treat PTSD is limited to anecdotal reports from individuals with PTSD who say that the drug helps with their symptoms. There have been no randomized controlled trials, a necessary "gold standard" for determining efficacy. Administration of oral CBD has been shown to decrease anxiety in those with and without clinical anxiety (18). This work has led to the development and testing of CBD treatments for individuals with social anxiety (19), but not yet among individuals with PTSD. With respect to THC, one open trial of 10 participants with PTSD showed THC was safe and well tolerated and resulted in decreases in hyperarousal symptoms (20).
Read more from the VA on Medical Marijuana here

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sgt. Maj. Michael Jarnevic Still On Duty Since Vietnam

Is this Green Beret the last Vietnam vet on active duty? 
Marine Corps Times
By James K. Sanborn, Staff writer
June 28, 2015
Sgt. Maj. Michael Jarnevic, seen here in 1995, will retire from the Army on July 8. He is believed to be the last Vietnam War veteran serving on active duty.
(Photo: Courtesy Michael Jarnevic)

In the 1970s, he was among the last Marines sent to Vietnam.

In the '80s, as an Army Green Beret, he deployed into Honduras during the Contra Wars.

In 1991, he was gassed in Iraq.

And after 9/11, he fought terrorists in Afghanistan.

He's an environmental conservationist and holds a master's degree in creative writing.

He is not the Most Interesting Man in the World.

But with 42 years in uniform, 59-year-old Michael Jarnevic is likely the saltiest sergeant major serving in the U.S. military. And when he retires July 8, he'll likely be the last person in uniform whose service record includes a tour during the Vietnam War.

"I don't know how you could actually prove it," Jarnevic told Marine Corps Times, "but the onus would be to disprove it."

He knows of a few warrant officers serving until recently who also had Vietnam deployments. And the last Vietnam War draftee, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ralph E. Rigby, retired in November.

Jarnevic is now on terminal leave, having fulfilled a 16-month assignment as the senior enlisted adviser for the U.S. Joint Reserve Intelligence Support Element, part of U.S. Special Operations Command, at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. There, he was involved in one last war effort — coordinating analyst work against the Islamic State group.
read more here

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tampa Fake Veteran Gets Lesson At MacDill Air Force Base

Veteran tells panhandler to "take off my uniform!" after discovering he's a fake
ABC Action News
Bill Logan
Mar 30, 2015

It's a story of stolen valor: A panhandler purporting to be a combat veteran asking for money from passing motorists.

All until a Tampa man started asking questions and not getting the kind of answers he liked.

"Show me your veterans ID card,” asked a worked-up Garrett Goodwin on a video he uploaded to his Facebook page Sunday.

"I don't have one, sir," replied the still-unidentified and nowhere-to-be-found man wearing an Army uniform and a high-visibility vest while panhandling at the corner of Dale Mabry and Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa.

"Then take off my uniform!" replied Garrett, who served as an Army combat medic from 1994 through 2003.
read more here

Mar 29, 2015
Veteran Garrett Goodwin confronts a fake Veteran outside Macdill AFB. The fake claimed he was former Special Forces and his missions so secret that the VA doesn't even acknowledge he exists.

The fake was soliciting money from people using his fake Veteran status.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reservist's Suicide Hits Tampa Hard

Tampa reservist’s suicide brings home tragedy
Tampa Bay Online
By Howard Altman
Published: February 22, 2015

TAMPA — Why?
The story of Brunette’s life speaks volumes about the difficulty of dealing with veteran suicides, say her family and friends.

That’s the question the family and friends of Air Force Reserve Capt. Jamie Brunette are struggling to answer.

At 30, Brunette seemingly had it all. A vivacious and attractive athlete and scholar, she had been lauded by the Air Force for her work in Afghanistan, was a partner in a fitness center about to open in Largo and was known by her family and friends as being the strong one always ready to help others.

But for some reason, Brunette, who left active duty after 11 years last June and joined the Air Force Reserve, couldn’t help herself.

On Feb. 9, Tampa police found her slumped over in the back of her locked Chrysler 200 sedan outside a Harbour Island cafe near her apartment. Police say it appears she killed herself with her Smith and Wesson .380 handgun, which she purchased about six months earlier.

Now family and friends are trying to come to grips with the pain behind Brunette’s effervescent smile that caused her to become one of the 22 veterans a day who take their own lives, according to a 2012 Department of Veterans Affairs study. It’s a problem that’s vexing both the military and the VA, which are struggling to find ways to prevent suicides.

According to a study published this month in the medical journal Annals of Epidemiology, the nearly 1.3 million veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2007 had a 41 percent to 61 percent higher risk of suicide than the general population, with 1,868 committing suicide during that time period. And while female veterans were far less likely than men to commit suicide, when compared to those who never served, female veterans were more likely to commit suicide than male veterans.
read more here

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lawsuit After Navy Yard Shooting Shows Failures

Navy Yard Shooting Lawsuit Moved out of Florida 
Broward Palm Beach Times
By Chris Joseph
Feb. 19 2015
The original lawsuit pointed out several multi-million dollar contracts The Experts, Inc. has had with the U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. The suit also names the U.S. Navy, the Department of Veterans Affairs and two defense contractors as defendants. The family has been seeking $37.5 million in damages.
photo: United States Department of the Navy (CCTV), FBI via Wikimedia Commons CCTV footage of Aaron Alexis on September 16, 2013
The lawsuit filed by the family of Florida resident Mary DeLorenzo Knight, one of the victims slain by Aaron Alexis during the Washington Navy Yard massacre in 2013, has been ordered out of Florida by a federal judge. The suit, filed in December 2013, alleges negligence by the government. 

Alexis, who had been contracted by Fort Lauderdale-based The Experts Inc., had access to the building in the Naval Yard in Washington D.C.

On September 16, Alexis shot and killed DeLorenzo and twelve others before he was killed during a standoff with police.

DeLorenzo Knight's sister, Patricia DeLorenzo, filed the lawsuit against the government in Tampa, but U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday ordered it transferred out of the state to Washington, D.C. since the shooting took place there.

DeLorenzo's suit argues that, prior to the shootings, Alexis had been behaving erratically, but that The Experts Inc. failed to report his behavior to the U.S. Navy.

DeLorenzo's family is the first of the victims' families to come forth with a lawsuit of this kind since the tragedy, saying that the government also failed to give Alexis -- who suffered from mental problems -- the proper security clearance.

The suit claims the VA never treated Alexis's mental illness when he was admitted to a VA E.R. for insomnia a month before the shootings. He had also been arrested multiple times for post-traumatic stress disorder, anger management and alcohol abuse.
read more here

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Florida Army Iraq Veteran Served Three Decades

South Shore Army veteran served more than three decades 
Tampa Bay Online
Kenneth Hall
Special Correspondent
February 11, 2015
After a year in Iraq, spending time in armored Humvees, M-1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles in Baghdad – where the temperature would reach more than 110 degrees in the summer – Jones finds Tampa’s weather almost mild.

APOLLO BEACH – Michael Jones says the most important life lesson he learned during his time in the U.S. Army is the value of teamwork.
“Everything good that gets done in the military is the result of a team effort,” he said.

“From national security policy all the way down to what squads do, you have to have great teamwork. I’m retired from the military and working in the civilian sector and it’s the same thing. There are very few things that don’t get done without great teamwork.”

Jones saw the results of teamwork throughout his time in the service, including a year as deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and most recently as chief of staff at CENTCOM at MacDill Air Force Base.

It was always a team effort. “My whole military career was rewarding, but I would say that my year in Iraq was the most rewarding,” he said. “The 1st Cavalry Division is a really special army unit. There was not a day that went by that I was not honored to serve with the soldiers there who were doing amazing things every day.”

Jones was transferred to MacDill Air Force Base in 2008. It quickly became his favorite duty station. read more here

Monday, January 26, 2015

Black Hawk Down Chris Faris Retiring After 31 Years

Top MacDill enlisted leader, veteran of Mogadishu's 'Black Hawk Down' battle, to retire 
Tampa Bay Times
William R. Levesque
Times Staff Writer
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Chris Faris, command sergeant major of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base,is retiring at the end of February after 31 years in the military. He is also a co-grand marshal of Gasparilla 2015. Photo courtesy Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
He acknowledged the battle that cost the lives of 18 U.S. troops and left 73 others wounded is never far from his mind. "I probably think about it two million times a day, every day," Faris said. "You don't go to war without being changed."
TAMPA — Chris Faris was wounded in Mogadishu in 1993 as a member of the elite Delta Force during the battle made famous in the book and film Black Hawk Down. And he has spent nearly six years deployed overseas since 2002, often while on secret missions in the world's most-dangerous places. But the work one of the grand marshals of the 2015 Gasparilla celebration wants to be remembered for is his effort to encourage soldiers to seek the help they might need after returning from war.

Faris is command sergeant major — the top enlisted leader — of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, and has earned seven Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart in his 31 years in the Army. He will retire at the end of February. That, Faris said, is enough.
read more here

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Special Forces: commandos are committing suicide at a record pace this year

Consider this. If the DOD and the Pentagon "efforts" to prevent suicides did not even prevent them in Special Forces, why did they keep doing it? Why did they keep saying that "most had not been deployed" when they were all trained with Comprehensive Solider Fitness? Why did they say the numbers were down when in fact the number of enlisted also went down leaving less to count?
Suicide Rise in Special Ops Spurs Call for Review
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
Published: April 29, 2014

Concerned with the increase in commandos taking their own lives, a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee is calling for the Pentagon to review Department of Defense efforts regarding suicide prevention among members of the Special Operations Forces and their dependents.

The call for a review is included in proposals by the Military Personnel Subcommittee as part of the half-trillion dollar-plus military budget request for the fiscal year beginning in October. If the measure passes, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would have three months after passage of the budget to report the findings to the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

“If the final bill calls for a report, we will work with the Department of Defense to ensure they have all the information they need to report to Congress,” said U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw.

The subcommittee is also calling for a look at the overall issue of troop suicides, as well as how the military is handling sexual assaults, military health care costs and other health and well-being issues.

Earlier this month, Socom commander Adm. William McRaven told a Tampa intelligence symposium that commandos are committing suicide at a record pace this year. Though he offered no figures, he was repeating a concern he first raised in February at a Congressional hearing on his budget.

“The last two years have been the highest rate of suicides we have had in the special operations community and this year I am afraid we are on the path to break that,” McRaven, whose headquarters is at MacDill Air Force Base, said at the GEOINT 2013* Symposium in Tampa earlier this month.
read more here

U.S. special forces struggle with record suicides

Friday, April 11, 2014

Florida Bomb Sniffing Dog Retires with Full Honors

Fla. bomb-sniffing military dog that saved 13-person patron in Afghanistan retires with honors
Associated Press
April 11, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. – Staff Sgt. Shannon Hutto thought his bomb sniffing dog Eddie was just being lazy when he wouldn't move from a certain spot one hot day in Afghanistan in 2012.

But Hutto then saw what Eddie smelled: a homemade bomb, partially buried in the dirt. It was six inches from Hutto's foot.

"It was a high stress moment," Hutto said.

A short time later, Eddie sniffed out another improvised explosive placed on a bridge the patrol unit was about to cross.

Eddie saved Hutto's life, the lives of a dozen patrol members and countless people in the village.

For his service, Eddie retired Friday with full military honors. The ceremony was held at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and a few dozen soldiers turned out to cheer Eddie on.
read more here

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Blue Angels and Thunderbirds will fill sky in Florida again

Thunderbirds, Blue Angels line up air show dates in Florida
Orlando Sentinel
Richard Tribou
December 19, 2013

The skies are clearing for air shows in Florida for the upcoming year and beyond with the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels nailing down dates, and the Sunshine State has a lot of stops on their tours.

Both military performance teams will make five Florida appearances in 2014, and the Blue Angels have added their 2015 dates as well, with four Florida stops planned.

One big winner in the announced dates is the Melbourne Air and Space Show, which held its inaugural event this year, despite the grounding of both headliners in 2013.

The beachside show has nailed down the Thunderbirds in October 2014 and Blue Angels in March 2015. Part of the success is due to landing Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems as a title partner of the show.

"We are pleased to have such a leading global aerospace company as our partner," said Bryan Lilley, Chairman of the National Air, Sea and Space Foundation, who organizes the event. "With the support of Northrop Grumman and commitments from both of our nation's military jet demonstration teams in 2014 and 2015, the Melbourne Air  and Space Show is poised to become one of the top aerospace shows in the nation."

The county is home to Patrick Air Force Base and is traditionally a draw for the Air Force team. The Blue Angels have not performed in Brevard since 2008 when the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was hosting an air show.

Central Florida will get its fill of air shows in 2014 with the Thunderbirds also returning to Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base for AirFest in March and to the Wings and Waves Air Show in Daytona Beach in October. The Blue Angels will be the headliner at the massive Sun 'n Fun air show in Lakeland in April as well.

The Blue Angels will make their normal air show stops in Pensacola Beach in July, Jacksonville in October and then their homecoming finale in Pensacola come November.
read more here

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Memorial for Floridians who died in Iraq wars opens in Tampa

Memorial for Floridians who died in Iraq wars opens in Tampa
Tampa Bay Times
Will Hobson, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jason Wyatt, left, performs the national anthem while Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, center, and Command Sgt. Maj. Frank A. Grippe stand at attention during the dedication ceremony.

Mark Goujon lost three members of his Air Force team in January 2007 when an improvised explosive device they were sent to inspect detonated in Iraq.

He was supposed to be on that inspection, but was swapped off.

After returning to Riverview, he started thinking there should be a more fitting tribute to the friends he lost, and other Floridians who died in Iraq, than the photos displayed in his home. And so started a two-year quest of fundraising and organizing that culminated Saturday, with the opening of the Iraq Veterans Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park and Museum east of Tampa.

The ceremony was marked by a rifle salute, a rendition of taps and a reading of the names of the 190 men and women from Florida who died in Iraq by some of their mothers.

Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, spoke to the crowd of the importance of monuments.

"Without them, we forget the cost of freedom," he said. Next to him, the surviving relatives of some of those who died in Iraq sat under two white tents. Mulholland turned to the families, to say, "Our nation could never repay the debt we owe for your sacrifice."
read more here

Friday, August 9, 2013

Woman accused of MacDill trespass entered Colorado's Fort Carson

Woman accused of MacDill trespass entered Colorado's Fort Carson
William R. Levesque
Times Staff Writer
August 8, 2013

TAMPA — The homeless woman accused of sneaking into MacDill Air Force Base four times since 2012 managed to get onto yet another military base when she entered Fort Carson in Colorado on July 29, a base spokeswoman said Thursday.

Suzanne M. Jensen, 50, showed a driver's license and got into the Army base in Colorado Springs, said Dani Johnson, a spokeswoman for Fort Carson.

Jensen then visited the recruiting office for the 10th Special Forces Group on the base and asked personnel there a series of odd questions, said Johnson.
read more here

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vietnam Veteran receives Bronze Star 46 years later

After 46 years, Vietnam veteran awarded Bronze Star
MyFOX Tampa Bay
March 7, 2013

After 46 years, a veteran of the Vietnam War was awarded the Bronze Star at MacDill Air Force Base.

Sgt. Robert French received the medal in a ceremony Wednesday.

French served in the Army as a radioman in the South Vietnam Mekong Delta.
read more here

Friday, December 28, 2012

Florida reacts to death of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Florida reacts to death of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf
Tampa Bay
By Robbyn Mitchell
Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, December 28, 2012

TAMPA — It was hot and clear as the military plane zipped through Tampa's airspace.

In front of a frenzied crowd, the plane landed, the door opened and out stepped Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, followed by soldiers returning from kicking Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

"He was larger than life," recalled U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who was at the old Tampa Stadium for that public thank you on May 5, 1991.

"He was a hero who controlled a war that was minimal cost in money and in causalities," Young said. "He went over there, dug them out of the sand, whipped Saddam Hussein's tail and sent them flying back to Baghdad."

Gen. Schwarzkopf came to Tampa in 1988 as the head of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. He was ordered by then-President George H.W. Bush to initiate Operation Desert Storm, and the sweeping success of that campaign endeared him the nation and his new neighbors.
read more here

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Retired Col. Virgil Thomas "Tom" Deal Jr. died in plane crash

Retired Army Doc, VA Surgeon, Dies in Plane Crash
Dec 18, 2012
Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
by Drew Brooks

A decorated Army doctor who served in some of the military's most elite commands was identified as the pilot killed in Sunday's plane crash in Robeson County.

Retired Col. Virgil Thomas "Tom" Deal Jr. was acting chief of surgery at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center when he died, but he was well known throughout the military, especially within the special operations and medical communities. He had served as command surgeon of Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and was commander of Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"He was a beloved colleague and advocate for the veteran. Our hearts are heavy with his loss," Elizabeth Goolsby, director of the Fayetteville VA Medical Center, said Monday.

read more here

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Less than half of military gun suicides were personal weapons

Firearm sales coming to MacDill retail store
The Tampa Tribune
Published: December 01, 2012

There are plenty of guns on MacDill Air Force Base, home to U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and two Air Force wings.

But unlike many military bases across the country, you cannot purchase a weapon there.

That's about to change.

In a few weeks, anyone with a military ID who is eligible to purchase a weapon will be able to do so at The Exchange, the sprawling 67,000-square-foot base mall that sells everything from cat food to computers.

The process to sell guns at MacDill began in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Judd Anstey, public relations manager for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which runs exchanges at more than 100 Army posts and Air Force bases around the globe.

The decision was based on "customer demand and the fact that Florida has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts," he said. The change had to be signed off on by the base commander, fire marshal and security officer.
The decision to sell firearms at MacDill comes at a time when the military is wrestling with the rising number of suicides in the armed forces.

More than 320 confirmed or suspected suicides have been reported so far this year, according to the Pentagon, surpassing the previous high of 310 in 2009. By comparison, 241 U.S. troops have been killed by enemy forces so far this year, according to

In 2011, slightly less than half of the approximately 280 suicides involved weapons that were not issued by the military, according to Department of Defense spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

That fact is not lost on Scott Neil, a retired Green Beret who served as the senior enlisted adviser to the Director of the Interagency Task Force at U.S. Special Operations Command.

Neil, who runs sport shooting events that benefit the wounded, said gun policies on bases are actually more restrictive than those outside the gates.

"It is highly controlled on the base," he said. "As far as fear that Joe the Private walks from the barracks to get a gun and commit suicide, it's the same as if he drove 10 miles downtown to a pawn shop. There are probably less regulations or oversight or issues for him to get a gun cheaply at a pawn shop."
read more here