SUN CITY CENTER — Myrtle Verzi Tedesco could die on no other day.
Mrs. Tedesco was one of the founding members of Gold Star Wives of America after her husband, a B-25 pilot, was presumed killed when his plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1945.
She served as the third president of Gold Star Wives, a group of war widows whose loss was marked by a simple gold star in a window of their homes....
Eddie may have saved his best friend's life when he detected a bomb in Afghanistan last year. He might have saved the lives of several other troops as well.
Eddie didn't get a parade. He didn't get a medal. He didn't even get a promotion.
Eddie's reward was a red ball. He was ecstatic. He grabbed it with his mouth, raised his head up high and danced his happy Snoopy dance....
This is not your typical, run-of-the-mill convention.
Start with the mockup of something called a Viper-E at the Tampa Convention Center. It looks vaguely like a space fighter from Star Wars. A television screen sitting next to it shows the missile blowing apart a series of vehicles in an endless loop.
Not far away, several guys in military fatigues look at a display of miniature cameras that can be easily hidden just about anywhere....
TAMPA — U.S. fliers who survive a crash in Afghanistan today are rescued in an average of 12 minutes. John Nelson can only marvel at such speed.
Shot down by German gunners in World War II, Nelson spent almost a month behind enemy lines before he was rescued.
"I fully understood that I was alone on the other side of the world from my home," said Nelson, 91, a Tampa resident and former fighter pilot....
TAMPA — A KC-135 refueling tanker that crashed in Kyrgyzstan earlier Friday was not assigned to MacDill Air Force Base, said U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.
Young said an Air Force official briefed him and told him that the aircraft that crashed was assigned to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. He said three members of the crew were killed in the crash.
MacDill officials had declined to comment about the crash. MacDill is the home base for 16 KC-135s....
A Clearwater police officer whose dashboard camera appeared to contradict the department's assertion that he wasn't chasing a motorcyclist who died in a February crash on the Courtney Campbell Parkway received a written reprimand for the incident, Clearwater police said Monday.
A letter of discipline given to Nicholas Giordano said the officer did not use "due caution and judgment" in trying to stop several motorcyclists speeding in excess of 120 mph on Feb. 20. Giordano's unmarked police car hit 145 mph during the attempted traffic stop, the department said....
TAMPA — Clearwater police officials insist one of their officers ended a high-speed chase of Keith Williamson before the motorcyclist was killed in a Feb. 20 crash on the Courtney Campbell Parkway.
"When it was evident that the vehicle was not going to stop, (the officer) called it off," Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts told the Tampa Bay Times in a Feb. 22 story....
TAMPA — The tiny camera was housed in a plastic casing that made the device look like a smoke detector. Its manufacturer sold it as a "covert camera."
Leaders of the James A. Haley VA Medical Center said they decided to install it in a brain-damaged veteran's room to monitor his health. They said it wasn't hidden from anybody.
"It's in plain view," Roy Hawkins Jr., Haley's deputy director, told the Tampa Bay Times last year, noting the use of such cameras was routine at hospitals across the nation....
A Sarasota man who served at Camp Lejeune in the 1950s and is now dying of breast cancer has finally won Department of Veterans Affairs benefits after a bruising fight with the agency.
The VA reversed an earlier denial of a claim filed by Marine veteran Tom Gervasi after a blistering letter sent to VA Secretary Erik Shinseki by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina. The letter accused the VA of using outdated or suspect evidence to deny Gervasi's claim alleging he was poisoned by contaminated drinking water....
The Pentagon backed off its plan to eliminate a Florida National Guard unit in Clearwater this week that was created to respond to potential terrorist attacks and other disasters.
The Florida Guard's 22-member 48th Civil Support Team, one of two in Florida and the only CST in the nation with a maritime capability, had been slated for elimination by the Pentagon, said Rep. C.W. Bill Young, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense....
TAMPA — An investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general has exonerated officials of the James A. Haley VA Medical Center for their decision to install a camera disguised as a smoke detector in a patient's room last year.
A report by the VA's Office of Inspector General released Thursday said the camera's use was "reasonable" because officials at the Tampa hospital thought the family might be interfering with nursing care provided to brain-damaged veteran James Carnegie, 81....
TAMPA — Authorities spent another fruitless day Sunday searching for the man accused of kidnapping his two young sons and fleeing on a sailboat into the unpredictable waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Joshua Hakken, 35, along with his wife, Sharyn Hakken, 34, and their two boys — Cole, 4, and Chase, 2 — are thought to be on a 25-foot sailboat that launched Wednesday from Madeira Beach, just hours after the kidnapping....
04/06/13 Public Safety
TAMPA — It's a 25-foot sailboat in 600,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico traveling in a body of water with more than 3,500 miles of coastline — 16,000 miles in the U.S. alone if bays and inland waterways are included.
Authorities say it's a remarkably good place to hide.
With calm waters and ideal weather drawing more boaters to the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, authorities hoped the extra sets of eyes would help as they continue their search for the man they say kidnapped his two young sons and took off in a sailboat....
TAMPA — Sgt. Ralph A. Morgan was one of 33 troops defending a featureless piece of earth in Vietnam that the U.S. Army called Hickory Hill. The men faced 1,200 attacking North Vietnamese Army troops.
It was June 4, 1971. Morgan helped save his platoon that day. He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to allow his comrades to retreat to safety. He called in airstrikes.
Morgan earned a Silver Star, the military's third-highest decoration. On Tuesday, it was finally pinned to his chest....
TAMPA — Both put their lives on the line in Afghanistan to save comrades during battles in 2008.
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry picked up a live grenade during a firefight with the Taliban. It exploded in his hand as he threw it back toward the enemy. Petry saved two fellow Rangers. He lived but lost his right hand.
Four months later, Staff Sgt. Robert Miller ordered his men back to cover during a Taliban ambush. Miller charged the enemy but was cut down and killed....