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Thursday, Jan 29, 2015

Howard Altman

Tribune Staff
Altman, Howard

Imagine drone wolf packs: Pentagon seeks technology

- The agency’s science development unit, formed after the Russians launched Sputnik, put out a call seeking ideas for “revolutionary approaches to unmanned aircraft systems autonomy.”

Former CIA acting director offers chilling world view

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It doesn’t take a CIA officer to figure out that the world is a rather dangerous and complex place.

Officials work to clean up ‘significant’ fuel spill at Haley VA hospital

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Hillsborough County environmental officials say they have serious concerns about groundwater pollution after a “significant amount of spillage” of diesel fuel earlier this month at the James A. Haley Vetera...

JTACs, pilots train to guide jets to enemy targets

- Recent fighter jet exercises in Avon Park with “boots on ground” underscore importance of personnel who are pilots’ eyes and ears.

Florida, veterans push for state oversight of VA health centers

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TAMPA — The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed veterans and their families at VA medical centers by not living up to its own rules, the state of Florida and two veterans say in a lawsuit against the departm...

NASCAR’s Tony Stewart tours MacDill refueling operation

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TAMPA — Every weekend during racing season, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart deals with the pressure of going around a track very fast.

‘Sniper’ hits home for Tampa veteran, wife

- For Patrick Morrison and Lynn Kilroy, the movie “American Sniper” wasn’t escapist entertainment, it was a pretty good depiction of a life they know well, Howard Altman writes.

Detachment from MacDill battles Ebola in Africa

- The Pentagon, which is supporting that effort, says the mission so far has been successful, with the creation of a 25-bed hospital, 10 Ebola treatment units, more than 1,500 aid workers trained and fewer troops needed than ...

Wounded veteran retires from Army, looks to next chapter

- Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera has endured 107 surgeries since March 12, 2008, the day a rocket exploded near his armored vehicle inside Talil Air Base in Iraq. On Friday, Tavera officially retired during a ceremony at Tampa's VA h...

Outgoing VA director tells of possible security changes

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Patients, staff and those visiting the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital may soon have to undergo new security measures to get into the hospital in the aftermath of the fatal shooting earlier this month of a VA do...

Centcom deputy gives grade of B+ to military effort against Islamic State

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Speaking to an audience full of University of South Florida academics and students, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command was asked to grade military efforts to date against the Sunni insurgent group Islamic State...

Soccent leader met with Syrian opposition

- In the effort to defeat Islamic State and help protect Syrians from the regime of president Bashar al-Assad, the commanding general of Special Operations Command Central met in Turkey with members of the Syrian opposition a...

Centcom social media sites back online after hack

- The Twitter and YouTube accounts of Tampa-based Centcom were temporarily suspended after being taken over by a group called CyberCaliphate, which claims to have ties to the Islamic State.

Attacks in France, Nigeria underline importance of knowing your enemy

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I am Charlie Hebdo.

Advice to student F-18 pilots: Bomb the right target

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Minutes after returning from a flight over the Avon Park Air Force Range, where they participated in laser-guided weapons practice, Navy Lts. Kevin Loughmiller and Nick Adams stood on the soggy flightline at MacDill Air ...

Question of jurisdiction arises in suit against VA

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A federal judge has ordered three plaintiffs who sued the Veterans Administration in July claiming poor care to show why their suit should not be dismissed over a lack of jurisdiction.

Squadron of fighters jets at MacDill for training

- The skies above MacDill Air Force Base are buzzing more than usual with the arrival of Navy fighter jets that are here for training until next week.

Pasco arrest becomes part of Congressional inquiry

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Last April, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies spotted a man sitting in his car, pulled over on the side of the road.

Remembering and honoring those who died serving

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As I sat in the upper-level pew at the Idlewild Baptist Church, listening to the family and colleagues of slain Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek remember their loved one and friend, I thought about what I was...

For special military occasions, whiskey better by the barrel

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When Dave Scott was an Air Force wing commander at Hurlburt Field from 1999 to 2001, he used to give out special bottles of Jack Daniel’s, made from a single barrel of the Tennessee distillery’s finest prod...

Tampa area’s first baby of 2015 born at TGH

- Just 23 seconds after midnight, an exhausted Julia Betts gave birth to a 7-pound, 13-ounce, 20-inch-long girl.

Oldsmar man arrested after mother found decapitated

- Christian Gomez, 23, is accused of chopping his mother’s head off with an ax on New Year’s Eve, then tried to run away when deputies found him riding a bicycle.

Korean War veteran leaves behind memories of capture

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William Allen lived through one of the worst experiences ever faced by an American soldier then spent the latter part of his life trying to convince the U.S. Postal Service to dedicate a stamp in commemoration.

Acting director of Haley to leave for private sector

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After 16 years with the Veterans Administration, Roy L. Hawkins Jr., the acting director of the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, is leaving for the private sector.

Afghanistan war ends but grief endures for Dunedin mom

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For Kim Allison, the pain of loss did not end Sunday when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presided over a ceremony in Kabul officially closing out the 13-year-long war in Afghanistan.

Computer breach exposes data from 48,000 federal workers

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Personal information from more than 1,300 employees of the Veterans Administration nationwide was compromised in a computer breach involving security clearances, according to a memo being delivered this morning to VA emp...

Company allows public to search for missing plane

- DigitalGlobe is once again assisting in the search for a missing airliner and allowing the public to help.

Year-end events a reflection of curious times

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These are curious times in which we live, when so much is happening, and, even in our interconnected world, figuring out the truth remains a huge challenge.

Tarpon Springs officer remembered as ‘hero’, dad

- Charles Kondek, killed in the line of duty, was recalled at a funeral as a great husband, father and officer. “My dad died as a hero,” his daughter said.

Military’s ‘Iron Man’ armor could be a boon to Tampa

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“Iron Man” is still alive and well at U.S. Special Operations Command’s headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base.

Attack galvanizes Pakistan’s military

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In a nation that’s had a long and complex relationship with the Taliban, the recent military school massacre of nearly 150 people, most of them children, “is a t...

Tampa man rings closing bell at NYSE

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Scott Neil, a retired Green Beret master sergeant from Tampa, was on stage at the New York Stock Exchange to help close a record-breaking session.

Man, 23, charged in Tarpon Springs officer slaying

- A 23-year-old man faces charges in the slaying of a 17-year veteran Tarpon Springs police officer and the father of six children.

Task force denies reports U.S. engaged in ground combat with Islamic State

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Contrary to reports coming out of Iraq, U.S. troops have not engaged in ground combat with the Sunni insurgent group Islamic State, according to the task force in charge of running daily operations in the U.S. and coalit...

Lightning strike injures seven at Raymond James Stadium

- A lightning strike that hit in a Raymond James Stadium parking lot shortly after Sunday’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers game ended sent at least seven people to the hospital, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

How to respond to Sony hack

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The tumult over a sex-filled satire full of depictions of Pyongyang orgies and the death of North Korean despot Kim Jong-un has done nothing to dispel my dire world view.

Those loud booms? They're from test range Whiskey 470

- Few people outside of military and aviation circles have heard about Whiskey 470 in the Gulf. But last week, folks as far inland as Gainesville began reporting noises likely emanating from it.

Architect of interrogation methods seeks vindication

- James Mitchell, a Pasco resident who took part in the waterboarding of the 9/11 mastermind, wants the CIA to declassify a deposition in which he raised concerns about the treatment of detainees.

NOAA looks to build the next generation of hurricane planes

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Kermit was bouncing around pretty good the last time I was on it, flying into the eye of Hurricane Irene as it was ramping up from a Cat 1 to a Cat 2.

Pentagon grants ‘danger pay’ for missions over Syria

- MacDill AFB officials won’t say if their crews are eligible. If so, they would be among roughly 600 airmen to retroactively get an extra $7.50 a day, up to $225 a month.

Senate report ignites security debate

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The executive summary of a classified Senate investigation into CIA interrogation techniques has sparked debate in Tampa, home to U.S. Central Command, which is leading the fight against jihadis in the Middle East.

Silver, former Haley VA Hospital director, dies at 92

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Richard Silver, a World War II veteran who dedicated his life to those who served, spent his last moments at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, the facility he ran for 25 years.

Afghanistan veterans see reason for hope as operation ends

- As the U.S. and NATO closed down their combat command during a ceremony in Kabul on Monday, it was a time to reflect for those who fought in, planned for and paid the pice during the 13-year war.

Hostage rescue requires perfection, commandos say

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Rescuing hostages is the most difficult of all special operations. It requires relative superiority to be almost simultaneous with mission completion — for any delay between relative superi...

Pearl Harbor survivor dreads today’s anniversary

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Cecil Wigmore grew up in an orphanage near Muncie, Indiana, dreaming of tropical Hawaii and girls on the beach. And for a poor 19-year-old whose father had died and whose mother couldn’t afford to raise him, the f...

Wounded veterans set sail in weekend race

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After regaling the gathering of combat wounded with his stories of helping hunt down drug lord Pablo Escobar then taking part in the invasion of Panama, Nelson Corbin gets serious.

Defense bill impacts MacDill

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The defense spending bill passed by the House of Representatives today authorizes a 10 percent budget increase for U.S. Special Operations Command, extended authority for it to carry out its missions and more money to ke...

FBI hasn't closed files yet on Petraeus investigation

- It’s been more than two years since he resigned as director of the CIA over an affair, but David Petraeus is still being investigated by the FBI.