Monday, April 23, 2018
Military News

A soldier's solemn, honorable return home

The bikers gathered in a circle outside the funeral home Wednesday night. Some had beards and bellies — looser frames than when many of them were young and serving their country.

They bowed their heads and prayed.

A man in a leather jacket asked God to watch over the escort from the funeral home in Clearwater to Tampa International Airport and back. He asked to ease the family's pain, and he thanked young people everywhere who leave home for overseas and return in cargo holds.

"Amen," they all said.

An older woman walked near and disappeared into the arms of Thomas Brown, the assistant state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders. After the embrace, she thanked him.

"It's an honor for us to be here," Brown said.

The family of Spc. Justin Kyle Adams climbed into a black hearse. Police escorts flipped on their lights, followed by the riders on motorcycles. The procession headed into the night.

They rode staggered, with American flags secured to their machines, a flapping line stretching over the bridge toward the airport.

Delta flight 1051 soared around 23,000 feet, somewhere south of Atlanta and north of Jacksonville. It carried 21-year-old Adams of Largo.

Adams had always wanted to join the Army and he couldn't wait to serve his country. He enlisted a couple years after high school, and was deployed to South Korea in March.

Adams' Humvee crashed in South Korea nearly two weeks ago while he was conducting reconnaissance for an upcoming training mission near the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in Yeoncheon, South Korea. Adams and another soldier were killed.

Adams' plane landed at 10:36 p.m. The Patriot Guard Riders parked 48 motorcycles in a waiting lot, and the family rode in a hearse onto the tarmac.

Although no one could see the honor guard greet the family, many knew its ritual. Kim Allison had witnessed it at MacDill Air Force Base in March. But back then it was her weeping from behind tinted windows, watching soldiers in pressed uniforms unload her 21-year-old son.

The Patriot Guard Riders had been there, too. Brown later handed her a plaque in commemoration of her son's sacrifice.

Allison heard about the plan to escort Adams from the airport through a network of "Gold Star Mothers." The military lets families hang a blue star in their home's window for each son who enlists, and a gold one for each killed. Allison had four sons; now she has three blue stars and one gold. This was her first ride.

At 11:19 p.m., the dormant motorcycles stirred into a low rumble and then into a growling chorus as they followed the hearse back onto the road.

When they again arrived at the funeral home, the riders dismounted and stood at attention. They lined the hearse in a circle, many calling back the rigid salutes they'd known years before.

Six men in uniform stepped in unison. The hearse doors opened. An American flag covered the casket. The six men hefted Adams through the funeral home's white doors and commanded, "Order, huh!"

They filed out.

Then the riders shouted their own command, "Patriot Guard, stand down!"

 
Comments
Howard Altman: Tampa company analyzed strike on Syrian facilities

Howard Altman: Tampa company analyzed strike on Syrian facilities

After President Donald Trump announced the U.S., France and England had carried out attacks on three Syrian chemical weapons centers, a Tampa company began its own analysis of the bomb damage.The analysis, by geospatial intelligence firm Radiant Solu...
Published: 04/20/18
Howard Altman: Air Force turns to original Phillie Phanatic to develop mascot

Howard Altman: Air Force turns to original Phillie Phanatic to develop mascot

Air Mobility Command, the Air Force headquarters overseeing MacDill Air Force Base, wants to develop its own mascot to help interest children in a career with the flying branch. And they are turning to the original Phillie Phanatic, David Raymond, fo...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/12/18
Trump says U.S. to decide on response to ‘atrocious’ Syria chemical attack in 24 to 48 hours

Trump says U.S. to decide on response to ‘atrocious’ Syria chemical attack in 24 to 48 hours

Washington PostWASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that his administration would be making "major decisions" about its response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria within the next 24 to 48 hours, decrying the action as "atrocious" and...
Published: 04/09/18

North Korea tells US that Kim Jong Un ready to discuss nukes

Associated PressWASHINGTON — North Korea’s government has communicated with the United States to say that leader Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss his nuclear weapons program with President Donald Trump, officials said Sunday, increasing the likelihood...
Published: 04/08/18
Air Force pilot killed in Iraq helicopter crash honored at Tampa funeral

Air Force pilot killed in Iraq helicopter crash honored at Tampa funeral

TAMPA — Air Force Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe was the kind of guy who lived to help others, which is why he was in the co-pilot seat aboard an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter when it took off March 15 from a base in western Iraq.A graduate of Tampa Bay Technic...
Updated one month ago

4 Marines killed in helicopter crash in California

LOS ANGELES — Four Marines were killed when their helicopter crashed while they were practicing desert landings in Southern California, the Miramar air station in San Diego said Wednesday. The Marines took off from a ground-combat center in the city ...
Updated one month ago
Howard Altman: Syrian pullout creates concerns

Howard Altman: Syrian pullout creates concerns

Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Tuesday, Army Gen. Joseph Votel did not sound like a guy who was planning on pulling American forces out of Syria."We are in Syria to fight ISIS," Votel said about the Sunni jihadi group. "That is our missio...
Updated one month ago
Haley VA director personally presents clinic plans to Sun City Center

Haley VA director personally presents clinic plans to Sun City Center

SUN CITY CENTER — Blanche Sullivan was undeniably impressed.Joe Battle, director of the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Clinics, took time out of his busy schedule to drive to Sun City Center and personally facilitate the March 30 town hall mee...
Updated one month ago
International commandos to show off capabilities in Tampa again in May

International commandos to show off capabilities in Tampa again in May

Be afraid Mayor Buckhorn.Be very afraid.The bad guys might be after you again.You know the ones. They show up every other year in Tampa and capture you, only to see you rescued by a cadre of international commandos swooping in on helicopters, inflata...
Updated one month ago
For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

JACKSONVILLE BEACH — Adam Fuller credits a simple, one-word command — and a black Lab mix named J.D. — for helping to save his life. "Cover," he tells J.D., who is sitting to his left in a grassy field next to a park playground. The dog calmly walks ...
Updated one month ago