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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. Communication is the goal as a blindfolded Robert Simison, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class, navigates an obstacle course under the direction of fiancee Jamie Boate. The two are taking part in couples therapy for Special Operations Forces families.
  2. Concerns about the boom pod on a KC-135 Stratonker, like the one pictured here, prompted an emergency landing at MacDill Air Force Base while the jet was being used as a flying classroom.
  3. Alyssa Ackbar of Tampa, center, meeting in Tallahassee with fellow members of Florida's March For Our Lives organization, is a student at Florida State University and director of the group.
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  5. Jessica Purcell of St. Petersburg, a captain in the Army Reserve, was pregnant with son Jameson when she was told at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic not to worry about lumps under her arm. She now is diagnosed stage 4 cancer. Jameson is 10 months old.
  6. 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]
  7. 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.
  8. Traci Lenz said this is what her kitchen vent looked like even after mold remediation at her MacDill Air Force Base home.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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]
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Nov. 22, 2019• CENTRO
    Jorge Zambrana, 96, y Fabiola Montealegre, 85. La pareja se conoció en el centro para personas mayores y se casó en 2017. Ambos estaban viudos. Es el tercer matrimonio para Zambrana y el segundo para Montealegre.
  17. Nov. 14, 2019• Arts & Entertainment
    Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, in a photo from 2012, died recently. Mercado entertained many across Latin America for more than a decade.
  18. U.S. Army veteran Don Adams, 65, (right) holds his Veterans Treatment Court Certificate of Completion as he hugs Hillsborough Judge Michael Scionti last week. The special court graduated its 700th veteran during a presentation  in honor of the Veteran's Day weekend. "This court saved my life," said Adams, who did not want to participate in the program at first. "This court saved me from me." Pictured left is James. A Jeffries, Chaplain for Hillsborough County veterans.
  19. Medal of Honor recipients Retired Army Maj. Drew Dix, left, and Ret. Army Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell pose for a portrait before the start of the Medal of Honor Convention this week at the Tampa Marriott Water Street in Tampa,
  20. Jorge Zambrana and Fabiola Montealegre listen to the music at the Town 'N Country Senior Center.
  21. (left to right) Trevor Yarborough, 17, Kadie Weston, 17, and Connor Gadson-Yarbrough, 18, supervise their NJROTC classmates while preparing for the Iron Bear Challenge at Robinson High School in Tampa.
  22. The KC-135s are the main aircraft for the 6th Air Mobility Wing soon to be redesignated as the 6th Air Refueling Wing.
  23. Sep. 30, 2019• Military
    A F/A-18A Hornet, assigned to the U.S. Navy flight demonstration team the “Blue Angels,” makes a pass past the crowd at the 2004 Joint Service Open House.
  24. A homeless Vietnam War veteran in Clearwater answers questions for a Pinellas County homeless survey. A shortage of affordable housing is considered a major cause of homelessness among vets in the Tampa Bay area. [Times files]