1. Military

Howard Altman: Coast Guard to get special Veterans Day recognition

On an average day, the U.S. Coast Guard conducts 45 search and rescue missions, saving 10 lives and more than $1.2 million in property.

The agency also seizes 874 pounds of cocaine and 214 pounds of marijuana, interdicts 17 illegal migrants and conducts 24 security boardings in and around U.S. ports.

And that doesn't count the resources the Coast Guard deploys for hurricane relief efforts, many from the Tampa area — most recently in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

That's why the upcoming Veterans Day ceremony at Crest Lake Park in Clearwater caught my eye.

The event features Coast Guard Capt. Ward Sandlin, commander of Air Station Clearwater, as keynote speaker. He'll talk about the hurricane relief efforts.

There are lots of Veterans Day events taking place around the region. some of them highlighted below. But given how much they do, the Coasties never fully get their due so it's nice to see them receive the recognition.

Also, I haven't written nearly enough about Florida Veterans Memorial Plaza, located at the park. Brainchild of the Rev. Bob Swick, who earned two Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War, the ever-evolving plaza has become what Swick describes as the "center point" for countywide Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebrations.

In addition to Sandlin, Cindy Dietz, Gold Star mother of Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Jr., will also talk.

Born in Colorado, Danny Dietz was 25 when he was killed in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on June 28, 2005.

He died, according to, while conducting counterterrorism operations as part of a four-man SEAL squad. Dietz was missing for almost a week before coalition forces located his body while conducting a combat search and rescue operation on July 4, 2005.

The Crest Lake Park ceremony kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 11 at 201 S. Glenwood Ave., Clearwater. Food and drink will be provided by Frankie's Patriot BBQ.

• • •

The Pentagon last week announced the death of a soldier supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims, 36, of Juneau, Alaska, died Oct. 27 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds from a helicopter crash. He was assigned to 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The incident is under investigation.

There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 44 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the followup, Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan; 39 troop deaths and two civilian deaths 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; one death classified as other contingency operations in the global war on terrorism and four deaths in ongoing operations in Africa where, if they have a name, officials will not divulge it.

Contact Howard Altman at or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.