One of the reasons Four Green Fields is one of my two favorite Tampa bars (the Bad Monkey being the other) is that there are always some interesting conversations with people I cover.
Owned in part by a couple of Army veterans, Bryan Bean and Colin Breen, the thatched-roofed Tampa institution is set to become the first Irish Veterans Chapter and Post in the United States.
The Irish Veterans is an international veteran's organization based in Kinsale, Ireland. Its mission includes conducting historical research into the involvement of Irish men and women who served in foreign military and ancillary forces and establishing a memorial, museum, research and exhibition center to display the information gathered and to serve as a gathering point and educational venue for the Irish diaspora.
The new Tampa chapter is being run by Mark Barry, a retired SEAL Lieutenant Commander and current Tampa police officer.
It "will serve as a catalyst for Florida Irish veterans dedicated to continuing to give back to our local veterans community," Barry said in a news release.
The chapter, he said, will focus on working through and partnering with existing non-profit organizations to support established initiatives and rapidly address emergent issues.
The post will be named in honor of the late Army Maj. Kevin Kelly, a helicopter pilot in the Air Cavalry in Vietnam.
Kelly went on to join the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, at a critical, formative period, commanding a company of "Little Bird" helicopters on sensitive missions. He later flew for the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, and after retiring, served as an instructor pilot for the Night Stalkers.
Kelly, who was 66 when he died last month, "was respected across every branch of Special Operations," Barry said. "It is appropriate we honor his legacy by naming the Irish Veterans post after him."
Irish immigrants and descendants have a long and distinguished record of service to the U.S. Military," Barry added.
Which brings me to the bar's other major military effort.
Four Green Fields owners also own the Kinnitty Castle Hotel in Ireland, where they are dedicating a room in honor of Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy. Murphy, 29, posthumously earned the Medal of Honor for heroics during what became known as Operation Redwing in Afghanistan in June 2005.
He was one of 19 commandos killed that day in an operation that spawned the Marcus Luttrell book Lone Survivor.
For the folks at Four Green Fields, the Medal of Honor has deep cultural meaning, as well. More than 2,000 of the nearly 3,500 recipients have been Irish-Americans, including 257 who were born in Ireland.
The castle owners, along with the Irish Veterans Association, have organized a dedication ceremony and banquet on Sept. 6 to formally dedicate the Michael Murphy Suite and raise funds for the Irish Veterans Association, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and the Night Stalker Association.
Retired Navy SEAL Vice Adm. Joe Maguire will be the guest speaker. Several other US and Irish distinguished guests, including members of Michael Murphy's family, will attend. The organizers hope to encourage Medal of Honor recipients to travel to Ireland and attend and have offered to assist.
For more information, contact Bean at 813-254-9050.
The Pentagon announced no new troop deaths in ongoing operations last week.
There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 36 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the follow-up, Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan; 31 troop deaths and one civilian death 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; and one death under classified as other contingency operations as part of the global war on terrorism.
Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman