Saturday, January 20, 2018
Military News

MacDill, local businesses adjust to shutdown

TAMPA — The MacDill Air Force Base commissary is closed, but its fitness center and medical clinic are open. Dining facilities are serving meals and the chapel is open — troops, after all, still have to eat and pray.

But about 1,500 of MacDill's 4,000 civilian employees were sent home Tuesday on furlough as the federal government shutdown commenced, base officials say.

Those in jobs deemed critical to security and troop support are still working and getting paid, as are active-duty troops.

The commander of MacDill's host unit, the 6th Air Mobility Wing, plans on reaching out to local banks to talk about getting financial aid to civilian employees most in need, said Tampa lawyer Rhea Law, chairwoman of the wing's Command Advisory Council.

But details were unavailable late Tuesday. Commander Scott DeThomas declined to comment but has scheduled a news conference this morning.

MacDill officials also have not indicated if additional employees will be furloughed.

For some of the civilians losing a paycheck this week, it was a second blow: They had already lost eight days' pay earlier this year after the Pentagon implemented sequestration budget cuts.

"It's just a crisis for these folks because they already been in such uncertainty having just gone through furloughs and now all sudden it's happening again," Law said. "They've already suffered a financial hardship."

The 2,500 civilians who are still working at MacDill have jobs "essential to safety of human life and protection of property," a base spokesperson said. MacDill officials say they also will be paid in a timely manner.

It appears that at least some of MacDill's aircraft are still flying. The base declined to say, but one of MacDill's 16 KC-135 aerial refueling jets rose from a base runway and flew over South Tampa Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command, both based at MacDill, also are furloughing civilian employees. Officials at the 6th Air Mobility Wing said the 1,500 civilians furloughed across the base include those two commands.

With so many civilians losing pay, the owners and employees of small businesses sprinkled around the base are worried about a financial hit if the shutdown lasts more than a few days.

"We're in the luxury market," said Jeffrey Thomas, co-owner of Awesome Jewelry north of MacDill's main gate. "We're not food. We're not heating. All that stuff will be taken care of first."

It's a common refrain up and down Dale Mabry Highway in mom-and-pop shops and restaurants where defense contractors and civilians talk shop over a slice of pizza or cup of coffee.

Jack Caramello, owner of Slice Pizzeria & Wing House on S Dale Mabry, said 90 percent of his lunch traffic is from MacDill. He wasn't sure if it was just a coincidence, but he hadn't seen any civilian MacDill employees during the first day of the shutdown.

He noted that for at least some of the civilians, the impact of the shutdown may not be too severe. Many civilians are retired military personnel who may already be getting a pension, he said.

"I think the shutdown will be less than a week before somebody blinks," Caramello said. "Somebody's got to blink, right?"

Lincoln Tactical is the gun shop closest to the base. Owner Ryan Thomas said he is not worried about the shutdown's impact on his business. His is something of a recession-proof line of work.

"Guns are always strong," he said. "It doesn't matter if people have money, don't have money. People will still buy firearms. That's just the way it is."

William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432.

Comments
That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

TAMPA ó If you hear loud noises coming from MacDill Air Force Base over the next few days, donít be alarmed.Itís the sound of flying hogs.A squadron of A-10C Warthogs, beloved by troops in the field for their ability to swoop low and slow and tear ap...
Published: 01/19/18
Sands of war return a relic: Carrollwood man's dog tag

Sands of war return a relic: Carrollwood man's dog tag

TAMPA -†In December 1944, Boris Stern climbed into an abandoned pillbox with his men, seeking refuge from the cold and rain as allied troops assembled on a Normandy beach to crush struggling Nazi Germany once and for all. But some of the men went ba...
Published: 01/19/18
Howard Altman: Tampa Bay Frogman Swim expects to raise more than $600,000

Howard Altman: Tampa Bay Frogman Swim expects to raise more than $600,000

Credit Terry Tomalin, the late, great Tampa Bay Times outdoor writer.Well, partly.In 2010, over a cup of coffee, Tomalin, the outdoors-fitness editor for then- St. Petersburg Times, suggested that a 17-year-old named Sam Farnan accompany him on a swi...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Washington PostFive Navy officers involved in ship collisions that killed a combined 17 sailors last year will face a variety of criminal charges, including negligent homicide, the service announced Tuesday night.The individuals include Cmdr. Bryce B...
Published: 01/17/18
Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

TAMPA ó The recent cold snap has been more than just an inconvenience for Floridians. Itís been tough on fish and potentially hazardous to flights at MacDill Air Force Base.The National Weather Service says temperatures in early January fell to as lo...
Published: 01/16/18
Hawaii false alarm hints at thin line between mishap and nuclear war

Hawaii false alarm hints at thin line between mishap and nuclear war

Nuclear experts are warning, using some of their most urgent language since President Donald Trump took office, that Hawaiiís false alarm Saturday, in which state agencies alerted locals to a nonexistent missile attack, underscores a growing risk of ...
Published: 01/14/18

Leaked draft of Pentagonís nuclear review shows desire for new kinds of weapons

A leaked draft of the Pentagonís forthcoming nuclear weapons review shows that senior defense officials are keen to not only modernize the aging U.S. arsenal, but add new ways to wage nuclear war as Russia, China and other adversaries bolster their o...
Published: 01/13/18
Howard Altman: Gasparilla to honor first female four-star general

Howard Altman: Gasparilla to honor first female four-star general

The military’s first female four-star general will serve as the Community Hero for the 2018 Gasparilla Pirate Fest. The Community Hero is an individual living in the Tampa Bay area who offers courage, strength and self-sacrifice in the service...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
CentCom investigating video that appears to show a service member opening fire on a civilian

CentCom investigating video that appears to show a service member opening fire on a civilian

The U.S. military is investigating a video posted to YouTube that appears to depict a U.S. service member opening fire on a civilian driving a truck in Afghanistan, U.S. military officials said.The video, apparently recorded on a camera attached to a...
Published: 01/11/18
2019 Warrior Games coming to Tampa

2019 Warrior Games coming to Tampa

TAMPA ó The 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games are coming to Tampa.U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson made the announcement Monday after receiving a letter from the Pentagon.In a recent letter, the Pentagon informed Nelson that the games, which drew about 5...
Published: 01/08/18