Monday, June 18, 2018
Military News

Iorio: Tampa's relationship with military is more than one couple's parties

TAMPA — Look at Tampa's relationship with MacDill Air Force Base only through the experience of Dr. Scott and Jill Kelley, and it's easy to get the wrong idea about the city, former Mayor Pam Iorio says.

"The relationship with the military is being seen through the eyes of this particular story," Iorio said Wednesday. But "our relationship with the military is very deep and sincere and represents thousands of people. This one couple and their parties are not really representative of what we do for the military."

To the contrary, she said, Tampa's larger engagement with MacDill, Central Command and Special Operations Command manifests itself in Thanksgiving dinners for CentCom's coalition partners, in local families hosting international officers, in the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council (and the base's $6.7 billion impact on the Tampa Bay area's economy), in residents supporting the spouses of those serving abroad and through the flag-waving of the Bayshore Patriots.

Iorio has done a range of interviews with national media this week — the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and Reuters — partly to make that point, she said.

Still, like other leading citizens in Tampa, Iorio knows the Kelleys and their cause.

"Jill is high-energy — very social and a tireless hostess," she said. "She has focused on the military since I first met her."

That introduction goes back to 2003, after Iorio was first elected mayor. The Kelleys called her office and invited her to a military-oriented reception they were hosting — Gen. Tommy Franks, then the commander of CentCom was among the guests — in the private room of a local restaurant.

Later Jill Kelley told Iorio she wanted to become more involved in the community, so Iorio began looking for things Kelley could "pour her energy into." In 2009, Iorio appointed her to the board of the Henry B. Plant Museum, and, after a three-year term, Mayor Bob Buckhorn re-appointed Kelley this year at the museum's request.

Another perspective on community relations with MacDill comes from John Stross, co-owner of Leverock's seafood restaraunt in Pasadena.

Stross said he has met Jill Kelley at several functions at MacDill, but doesn't know her personally and has never been to her home for an event.

But he has been invited to and attended many functions with dignitaries at MacDill, presumably because he helped raise money for various local charities. After getting his first invitations, "I didn't ask why. I assumed they wanted community voices. I didn't ask how I got the invite. I can't speak for the vetting."

Yet even with invitations to the functions, he says it is difficult to gain access to military officials when not at events. He says he could not pick up the phone and get a top general to meet him for breakfast or attend a party at his house.

The base has a protocol office that vets people who attend the functions and gain access to officials, he said. The profile: "All community leaders. They are upstanding citizens."

Times staff writers Richard Danielson and Mark Puente contributed to this report.

Comments
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is pushing back against a social media post implying that a combat-wounded New Port Richey veteran has a Nazi symbol tattooed on his arm.In a tweet Monday afternoon, ICE officials denied the vete...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — The federal government’s search for a home for its new Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic is focusing on the Little Road corridor in west Pasco.Three locations in the running for the VA clinic are identified in the ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Published: 06/17/18
Howard Altman: New Port Richey veteran out front in campaign for burn-pit benefits

Howard Altman: New Port Richey veteran out front in campaign for burn-pit benefits

Last week, the halls of Congress became the latest battleground in a campaign by tens of thousands of veterans seeking acknowledgment of the health problems they suffer from exposure to open-air refuse burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.Nav...
Published: 06/14/18
Airman with top-secret clearance, who disappeared in 1983, is discovered living in California

Airman with top-secret clearance, who disappeared in 1983, is discovered living in California

Before he mysteriously disappeared and landed on the Air Force Most Wanted list, Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr. phoned home to tell his mother and father that he was going to the Netherlands.It was July 17, 1983, and the Air Force was sending Hughes...
Published: 06/12/18

Marine Corps weighs wooing older members for new cyber force

SAN DIEGO — The head of the Marine Corps says it’s time the U.S. military branch known for its fierce, young warriors becomes a little more mature. The Marine Corps is considering offering bonuses and other perks to entice older, more experienced Mar...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/09/18
Military members stationed overseas fret as flying pets home gets harder

Military members stationed overseas fret as flying pets home gets harder

Missy Lee, a civilian who works for the U.S. Army, paid Delta Air Lines $5,000 to transport her two white shepherds as cargo on the same flight she took when moving to Japan in 2014.In the years since, the industry of shipping pets overseas has drast...
Published: 06/07/18
Howard Altman: Calls to veterans hotline jump after program expands statewide

Howard Altman: Calls to veterans hotline jump after program expands statewide

During the first three months of its expanded, statewide hotline for veterans, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay estimates about 2,000 former service members called in seeking help because they were considering suicide.That’s a powerful testament to the...
Published: 06/06/18
Updated: 06/13/18
How to spot neo-Nazis in the military? Brandon Russell case shows how hard it is

How to spot neo-Nazis in the military? Brandon Russell case shows how hard it is

When Brandon Russell joined the Florida Army National Guard in January 2016, the service noted the radiation-warning symbol tattooed on his right shoulder.No one saw it as suspicious. Seventeen months later, it figured into the slaying of two young m...
Published: 06/04/18