Advertisement
  1. Military

MyMacDill campaign gathers momentum

A Navy crew preps an F-18 Hornet for its flight in January at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Published May 14, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott calls it an "important part of our state's history."

Mayor Bob Buckhorn points to the people.

And University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft dubs it a "pillar of the Tampa Bay region."

The trio of Florida leaders are among the first to post video diaries online in support of MacDill Air Force Base after the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance launched a community pride campaign called My MacDill. The idea is to celebrate its 75th anniversary next year and thwart a potential closure, something Washington lawmakers have combated for years despite the Pentagon's belief that it has superfluous facility capacity nationwide.

The initiative encourages Tampa Bay residents to share their experiences and stories about the base. The campaign organizers are directing people to MyMacDill.com, where they can upload stories, photos and videos about the base.

Alliance president John Schueler and retired Brig. Gen. Arthur F. "Chip" Diehl III, who was born at MacDill and served in various capacities on the base, recently outlined the plan at the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce's monthly membership luncheon.

"Encroachment will kill a base in a minute," Diehl told audience members May 5, referring to surrounding development.

Diehl offered several suggestions to help MacDill survive a pending base realignment process, as it did in the 1990s. He recommends forming a new committee in the next couple years and using the website to promote the base's heritage and capabilities by getting 75,000 people to tell their MacDill stories.

"What you as a community need to do is rally around MacDill, and its readiness, its capacity and the capability of the base to do any mission the country asks of it," Diehl said.

In addition to the dozens of tenants who call MacDill headquarters, such as U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, the base is home to the 6th Air Mobility Wing and the 927th Air Refueling Wing, with about 4,500 combined personnel.

"The idea is to be able to not only communicate what MacDill is doing but to support the installation … and support the men and women who serve our country," Schueler said.

Hillsborough County resident and Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Susie Blocker has been stationed at MacDill since 1994. She is one of the nearly 140,000 defense sector employees Schueler has in mind when he quotes studies that show an economic impact of up to $14 billion that the base projects throughout the Tampa Bay area.

"MacDill has been my best assignment by far," said Blocker, 54, who began her Air Force career in 1979. "Our community is behind our military members from helping our separating/retiring airmen secure civilian employment to sponsoring several enlisted and officer organizations. MacDill has the best programs, whether members are home-stationed or deployed."

Just a few weeks ago, MacDill earned a nod toward an even longer future when U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, announced he had secured $94 million in a bill that would allocate funds to base construction projects.

Contact Eric Vician at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Honor guard soldiers salute as the urn containing the ashes of Maj. Albert L. Mitchell, U.S. Army (Retired) is seen during a ceremony Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The ashes were found in a St. Petersburg attic. Nine years after his death, a soldier is buried with honors at Bay Pines National Cemetery.
  2. Patriot Guard Riders Floyd Anderson (right of center), from Riverview, and (right) Henry Hyde, from Fort Myers, embrace after the funeral for Edward K. Pearson on October 1 at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota.  Mr. Pearson was not believed to have left any family behind, so the public was invited to attend. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Edward Pearson Sr. had two sons. Their father walked out on them when they were teens. Years later, they were told he was dead.
  3. (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. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Many of America’s future soldiers are too young to have a personal connection to the terror attacks or the war in Afghanistan that followed.
  4. Edward K. Pearson's remains are carried in for his funeral on October 1, 2019 at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida.  Mr. Pearson did not leave any family behind, so the public was invited to attend. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    An estimated 1,500 people showed up at the ceremony held for Edward K. Pearson.
  5. The KC-135s are the main aircraft for the 6th Air Mobility Wing soon to be redesignated as the 6th Air Refueling Wing. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The 6th Air Mobility Wing celebrates its 100th anniversary while getting a redesignation
  6. 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. Courtesy of Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain
    MacDill Air Force Base will host Navy aircraft for three weeks beginning Oct. 1
  7. Army veteran Edward K. Pearson died in Naples with no living relatives. A social media campaign that swept the country is expected to bring crowds to his interment at a Sarasota military cemetery. Photo from Patricia Thrasher's Facebook
    The national political community is rallying around the story of Edward K. Pearson.
  8. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Macguire was heading up a charity helping wounded warriors when he was tapped last year to join the intelligence community in Washington. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    The retired vice admiral and Navy SEAL helped raise millions for wounded warriors as leader of a Tampa-based foundation.
  9. 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]
    Local agency leaders called on members of Congress to increase national affordable housing options as a solution to veteran homelessness
  10. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer drops from a helicopter during a training exercise off Honeymoon Island State Park in 2012. Jim Damaske
    The bizarre threat and fakes calls for help are being transmitted over marine radio. It sounds like the same man, the Coast Guard said.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement