Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Dunedin ceremony honors Purple Heart recipients

DUNEDIN — After retired Army Sgt. Maj. Billy Waugh received his first Purple Heart, the wounded serviceman was told he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Seven more Purple Hearts later, the 82-year-old Lutz man said Tuesday, his commanding officers realized that might not be the case.

"People finally realize this guy is not gonna quit. And that's the way it was," Waugh said, eliciting laughter from the 150 to 200 people gathered at Purple Heart Park to pay tribute to local men and women who have been wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Then, turning serious, Waugh — who served 24 years in the Army, 30 years in the CIA and penned a memoir describing his role in the capture of terrorist Carlos the Jackal and surveillance of Osama bin Laden — reminded spectators why they were there.

"I remember so many good stories," Waugh said before turning to the American flag behind him: "That's my heart. That's why I do what I do."

Tuesday's ceremony marked the fifth for Dunedin, the country's first Purple Heart City. The park, at the entrance to downtown, has benches and bricks dedicated to local veterans.

"Of all the things we do in Dunedin, I think I'm most proud that we honor our veterans each day of the year," said Mayor Dave Eggers. "Those are true heroes and people we need to connect with to remember what this country is all about."

The event was at times solemn, with onlookers standing silently during a 21-gun salute, a trumpet rendition of Taps and a bagpipe performance of Amazing Grace.

Waugh's keynote address took on the air of a pep rally that honored service members past and present. Rejecting the offer of a microphone, Waugh led several chants, including one in which spectators, waving American flags and raising their fists high, shouted after him: "USA!"

Waugh, who still travels the country instructing troops, says his adventures took him to 64 countries. Seven of his Purple Heart medals stem from service in Vietnam. One is from Korea.

Organizers say turnout at this year's Purple Heart ceremony was triple that of last year. In addition to service members and elected officials from Clearwater and Seminole, the ceremony drew relatives of deceased Purple Heart recipients.

Palm Harbor resident Lou Greber's family said they wanted to honor the World War II veteran, who died one month ago today.

"Before he passed away, he asked us to come to this," expecting that he'd be making an appearance too, said his granddaughter, Krista Reifschneider, 41, of Valrico. "So we made sure to come anyway in support of him and the Purple Heart."

They want his memoir, published by his family and presented to him as a surprise on his 90th birthday in February, included in a veteran history project being organized by the Library of Congress and members of Congress, including Rep. C.W. Bill Young. The compilation will include videos and printed materials.

"It's truly comforting to know that our neighbors back home care about what we're doing overseas," said Jake Gauthier, a 23-year-old ex-Marine, Purple Heart recipient and Young staffer who attended on Young's behalf.

"Support alone for servicemen means a lot," said Gauthier, a Gibbs High graduate who returned in December from Afghanistan with his twin brother, who also was wounded. "And to know that a whole city is a Purple Heart City means a lot."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

 
Comments
Pushing the stroller, mashing the gas pedal: A fatal encounter on Bayshore

Pushing the stroller, mashing the gas pedal: A fatal encounter on Bayshore

TAMPA — Jessica Raubenolt seized on the sunshine and blue skies at mid-day Wednesday to take her daughter out in the stroller for a walk along scenic Bayshore Boulevard. Visiting from Ohio, the family had been cursed by rain all week.At the same time...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
One day after fatal accident, Tampa moves to lower speed limit on Bayshore Blvd

One day after fatal accident, Tampa moves to lower speed limit on Bayshore Blvd

TAMPA — City officials announced Thursday they are reducing the speed limit on Bayshore Boulevard, one day after a mother was struck and killed by a speeding car while pushing her 21-month-old daughter across the street in a stroller.Starting today, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday night, Washington Capitals captain A...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA — Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didn’t start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

RIVERVIEW — Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a new location in Riverview, the chain announced Thursday. The new store will be located at Summerfield Crossing Shopping Center, though Sprouts did not have a specific opening date.The announcement comes...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pasco sheriff: Man stabbed driver, kicked officer

Pasco sheriff: Man stabbed driver, kicked officer

DADE CITY — A 42-year-old man was arrested Tuesday night after the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said he jumped on top of a car, stabbed the driver multiple times and then kicked an officer.Roscoe James faces charges of attempted murder, two counts ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH — Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is spending $853 million to convert its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retire coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.Five workers di...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

Its American Athletic Conference tournament hopes flat-lining, USF's baseball team has spent the past 30 or so hours reviving itself with plain ol' CPR.Clutch Pitching and Resolve.Needing back-to-back wins on a humid Clearwater day to remain alive, t...
Updated: 3 hours ago