Every year, Americans pay homage to those killed on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
This year, in Hillsborough County, the commemorations will take on additional meaning.
Hillsborough County and local veterans welcome two major additions to the Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins, Jr., Veterans Museum.
In a ceremony to be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday (Dec. 7), county leaders and veterans will officially open the Veterans Resource Center, as well as dedicate the new World War II Memorial at the park, located at 3602 U.S. 301 in Tampa.
The ceremony is open to anyone who wishes to attend.
The 8,000-square-foot Veterans Resource Center will be the new home for the County’s Consumer & Veterans Services, and includes a multipurpose room for training and special events, according to a media release. The facility will offer a one-stop shop for services for local veterans, who number more than 98,000 in Hillsborough — the highest veteran population in Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans Services assists veterans, dependents, and survivors in accessing federal, state, and local benefits. There is never a fee to visit with a Veterans Service Officer.
A standout feature on the new building’s exterior is the colorful depiction of service ribbons from all branches of the U.S. military. Funding for the $2.2 million facility included approximately $1.9 million in grants from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The new World War II memorial pays tribute to both the immensity of the conflict and local heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. Lasting from 1939 to 1945, the war was the most widespread and deadliest conflict in human history. The memorial features a brick plaza flanked by twin walls depicting iconic images from the major theaters of the war. Two bridges commemorate the Bataan Death March and the Battle of Remagen. An M3 Stuart tank and a howitzer stand watch, and a monument denotes the role of the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Seabees. Granite plaques are etched with the names of 520 service members from Hillsborough County who died in the war.
Veterans can now go online and order their new identification cards, according to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, author of the Veterans Identification Card Act. The cards are available to all veterans free of charge by visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs website (Vets.Gov).
To request an ID card, veterans must visit vets.gov, click on "Apply for Printed Veteran ID Card" on the bottom left of the page and sign in or create an account.
When ordering online, veterans will need to upload a copy of a valid government issued ID (drivers license/passport), a copy of a recent photograph to be displayed on the card and will need to provide service-related details. Once ordered, the Veteran ID Card will be printed and mailed directly to the veteran.
The Pentagon last week announced the death of a soldier supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
Cpl. Todd L. McGurn, of Riverside, California, died Nov. 25, 2017, in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The incident is under investigation.
The Navy identified Lt. Steven Combs of Florida, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Matthew Chialastri of Louisiana and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso of Florida as the three Sailors lost in a C-2A Greyhound that crashed en route to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan Nov. 22 while operating in the Philippine Sea.
There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 46 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the followup, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan; 41 troop deaths and two civilian deaths in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State; one troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against Islamic State in Libya; one death classified as other contingency operations in the global war on terrorism and four deaths in ongoing operations in Africa where, if they have a name, officials will not divulge it.
Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.