Aside from being the 12th anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, this year marks one year since the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, ex-Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and Sean Smith, an information management officer for the State Department whose estranged father, Ray Smith, lives in Gulfport.
For the purposes of my column, which comes out on Mondays, my list of 9/11 events kicks off, not surprisingly, on Sept. 11. (The sixth annual Run for the Fallen took place Sunday).
There are two memorials, both around the same time, on opposite sides of Tampa Bay (a body of water, not a municipality as some mistakenly believe).
One is the second annual Remember-Honor-Support 9/11 memorial breakfast at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg — the brainchild of Jo Brower and John Stross.
“We all recognize that the events of that day (9/11) must never be forgotten, and it the responsibility of our community leaders to see that they are not,” Stross said on the organization’s website, rememberhonorsupport.org. “Additionally, we must continue to honor all the individuals including our first responders, as well as our veterans and their families.”
With that in mind, the slogan, “Remember-Honor-Support” was adopted for both the organization and the breakfast event.
This year’s breakfast honors Michael Fineo, who was working in World Trade Center Tower One. Life changed at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north side of his building. Escaping with only minor physical injuries, Fineo was left with psychological injuries. Today, he and his wife, Roxane, along with their children, Nicholas, Brianna and Samantha, live in Safety Harbor, where they own Safe Surface Solutions and are active in their community and church.
The breakfast also features Medal of Honor recipient Gary Littrell, who received the nation’s highest military honor after a five-day battle in Vietnam that began April 4, 1970. According to his Medal of Honor citation, Littrell, “Through his indomitable courage and complete disregard for his safety ... averted excessive loss of life and injury to the members of the battalion. The sustained extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Sgt. 1st Class Littrell over an extended period of time were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him and the U.S. Army.”
The breakfast has been sold out for a few weeks, but I mention it because it is a fundraiser for two military and one law enforcement charities: the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Southeastern Guide Dogs Paws for Patriots program and Gold Shield Foundation.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Adm. Leroy Collins Jr. Museum in Tampa will hold its annual Patriots Day Remembrance.
In addition to remembering 9/11, this year’s ceremony is honoring the deaths of the four Americans in killed last year in Benghazi. Air Force Col. Scott DeThomas, commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, is the scheduled keynote speaker. Later that night, New Port Richey will hold a 9/11 memorial from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Sims Park.
Veterans Memorial Park, 3602 N. U.S. 301, will be a busy place this week. On Friday, it will host POW/MIA Remembrance Day, which will feature the groundbreaking of a POW/MIA memorial. On Saturday, American Veterans Post 44 will host its sixth annual Patriots Day Observance and Remembrance Ride. The event runs from noon to 5 p.m., with live entertainment from local act Jacked Up, various vendors and interactive displays from the military and first responders. A short ceremony will begin at 12:45 p.m. with Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris, U.S. Special Operations Command senior enlisted adviser, as the keynote speaker.
For those on the other side of the great liquid divide, Saturday will feature another 9/11 memorial event, this one put on by a company called DTCC, which was in the heart of the New York City financial district when the planes hit, and many of its employees were witnesses to and affected by the World Trade Center attacks. According to the company, DTCC annually organizes a volunteer effort to honor the lives forever changed by 9/11. This year, DTCC Tampa employees will volunteer alongside other United Way Hands On Suncoast members for the 9/11 Day of Remembrance and Service at the Bay Pines VA campus, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg.
There are a couple of other interesting events taking place worth noting, as long as I am on a listings kick.
On Tuesday night, in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, there will be a Community Forum on Suicide Awareness and Prevention, hosted by The Tampa Bay Suicide Prevention Task Force, Van Dyke Church and Suncoast Kids Place.
Unfortunately, suicide is a subject I’ve written about often as it pertains to the military, and the chances are very good that if you are reading this space, you know someone who has faced this issue personally. I was tipped off by a mom who lost her son, a former Army Ranger, to suicide last year.
The forum runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at Van Dyke Church, 17030 Lakeshore Road, Lutz. For information, go to www.facebook.com/afsptampabay/posts/503271813090755.
On Tuesday morning, the Army Corps of Engineers will be outside the Fort De Soto Park visitors center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide information and respond to questions about its Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study of the former Mullet Key Bombing and Gunnery Range. According to the Army Corps, preliminary work for the investigation begins this week and is expected to be completed in 2014.
Mullet Key, which is the home of Fort De Soto Park, became a bombing and gunnery training range during World War II, where pilots and air crews practiced aerial attacks using machine guns, practice bombs and live bombs, according to the Army Corps. Following the war, the military no longer needed the land, and after it was cleaned up to then-applicable standards, it was sold to Pinellas County in 1948 and became Fort De Soto Park.
In the interest of public safety, the Army Corps will “evaluate the site ... to determine if anything remains from past military training, and if so, where it is located and in what amounts. Once this information is analyzed, it is used to develop a recommended plan for addressing what, if anything, remains on the site. The plan will be shared for public review and comment.”
The Army Corps offers the following warning: “Munitions may be dangerous and are not always easily recognizable. If you encounter potential munitions, follow the 3Rs of explosives safety: Recognize that the item you found may be munitions, and munitions are dangerous. Retreat from the area without touching or moving the object. Report the finding to local law enforcement immediately by dialing 911.”
Archer Western Construction LLC, of Tampa, was awarded a $75.7 million firm-fixed-price, option-eligible, non-multiyear contract for the Picayune Strand Restoration Project, Miller Pumping Station in Collier County. Performance location will be Naples, with funding from fiscal 2013 other authorizations funds, according to the Pentagon.
One soldier was killed in Afghanistan last week.
Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Bowden, 28, of Villa Rica, Ga., died Aug. 31 in Ghazni of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire while on dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 242nd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), Fort Carson, Colo.
There have now been 2,256 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation’s longest war.