Advertisement
Ileana Najarro - Military Affairs and General Assignment Reporter

Military Affairs and General Assignment Reporter

I’m a journalist because I believe in the power of stories. My own story begins with my Salvadoran parents fleeing the violence of war. There are chapters of joy, tragedy, hope and perseverance in my hometown of Los Angeles. There are scenes in Washington D.C., New York and Mexico City. There’s a whole adventure in Houston. My story now continues in Tampa where I hope to find and share the stories of those serving and who have served in the military, their families, their communities, as well as the tales of the bay’s diverse residents.

  1. MacDill Air Force Base now requires all visitors looking to enter the base to show either Department of Defense ID or valid photo ID with a base pass. [Air Force photo]
    U.S. installations have increased security as tensions with Iran run high, and that includes the bases and veterans’ facilities in the Tampa Bay area.
  2. MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa was briefly on lockdown Friday morning after reports of an armed person near the Tanker Way Gage. The lockdown has been lifted and all gates except the Tanker Way Gate have been lifted.
    McDill Air Force Base is investigating a report of an armed person, but a lockdown at the base has been lifted
  3. Traci Lenz said this is what her kitchen vent looked like even after mold remediation at her MacDill Air Force Base home.
    Over the last year, families reported mold and other problems in military housing at MacDill and other bases.
  4. A woman lost control of her SUV and drove it into the Seven Springs Travel Park community pool at 8039 Old County Road 54 in New Port Richey, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. She escaped without injury.
    The driver, who lost control, escaped without injury, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  5. Those who play in a foursome with Julius Okrzesik marvel at how straight he drives the ball. The World War II veteran, 99, is also regarded as one of the better putters at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in Seminole.
    Julius Okrzesik, who flew 87 missions over Europe, never misses a round of golf with his buddies each Tuesday.
  6. Boris Stern, one of the last remaining survivors of the Battle of the Bulge, the battle with the greatest American casualties in WWII poses for a portrait in his home in Tampa, Florida on Monday, December 9, 2019. The 75th anniversary of the battle is Dec. 16th.
    Historians are in a race against time to collect veterans’ stories like those of Tampa’s Boris Stern.
  7. Marines evacuate an Afghan civilian injured by insurgent gunfire in Helmand Province during fighting in 2011. New questions have arisen over what's next for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, 18 years after troops first invaded.
    The war has been run from CentCom in Tampa, where one former commander saw inconsistent strategy from above.
  8. Amie Norquist says her family has suffered health problems from mold in their MacDill base housing. They had to get rid of mold-contaminated furniture, too, in an expensive move to a new home in Riverview. [Times]
    The Tampa case is one of several nationwide that target companies managing the property.
  9. Sarah Cruz, left, and Daniela Figueroa, both 17, teach the younger girls a few of the steps from the ballet folklorico. This was the first dance class that Sarah and Daniela taught after the last instructor stepped away.
    Residents didn’t get paved roads and street lights until this century. Regardless, neighbors young and old call it home.
  10. To help manage chronic pain, U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Stewart, 59, of Montgomery, Ala., explores a virtual landscape at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa. Stewart, a field artillery chief during Operation Desert Storm, suffers from chronic shoulder pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
    Headsets can deliver calming scenarios or return veterans to the place where the stress began.