A military blog by Howard Altman
From Afghanistan to the Alafia, Command Post Tampa is your local military news source.
By Howard Altman
Back in the spring, Iraq was in the rearview mirror and U.S. Central Command, headquartered here in Tampa at MacDill Air Force Base, was largely focused on winding down the war in Afghanistan, which is supposed to end by December.
It’s not like the folks at Centcom were only focused on Afghanistan. Not with 19 other nations to think about, a gnarly nest of dysfunction and despotism, sectarian violence and never-ending bloodshed from Pakistan to Yemen to Egypt that includes countries, like Lebanon and Jordan, feeling the direct effect of the horrific Syrian revolution. And the Gulf states. And the K-stans. And of course, Iran, always vying for supremacy in the Islamic world and a constant thorn for U.S. ambitions.
But now with Iraq and Syria sucking up so much oxygen, the Centcom acronym has become the subject of even more intense worldwide attention. If for no other reason than the near-daily bomb-o-grams, fired off by Centcom’s public affairs shop via email and social media, detailing the latest pieces of often-American hardware you paid for that have been blown up in Iraq by American munitions you also paid for.
Yesterday, two crews from the 91st Air Refueling Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base returned from somewhere in the Middle East after a tour refueling aircraft that were dropping bombs and humanitarian aid in Iraq in the fight against the Sunni insurgent group Islamic State.
While the glory may seem to go to the folks dropping the ordnance and packages, much of that would be impossible without mid-air gas from crews like the ones from MacDill, which are part of the 6th Air Mobility Wing.
How big a role have they played?
If it weren’t for Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lewis Collins, Walter Padron might not have been able to go on a family cruise to the Caribbean for his granddaughter’s 15th birthday.
Around 4 p.m. July 10, Collins, the working-dog kennel master with the 6th Security Forces Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, was returning from a doctor’s appointment when he saw a man on a bicycle hit by a 1995 green Toyota sedan at Spruce Street and MacDill Avenue.
Collins stopped his car and jumped out. Trained in first aid, he was prepared to help.