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American Homefront

In early 2017, WUSF joined the national American Homefront project, a national collaborative covering military life and veterans issues.

We're visiting bases to chronicle how American troops are working and living. We're meeting military families. We're talking with veterans -- in their homes, on their jobs, at school, at VA hospitals -- to learn about the challenges they face.

Partners in the project include WUSF, KPBS in San Diego and North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC.

The American Homefront project in Tampa builds on the success of WUSF's Off The Base project, which was created through a 2010-2011 Rosalynn Carter Fellowship to build a bridge between the civilian community and active-duty military, veterans and their families.

American Homefront receives support from: The Bob Woodruff Foundation, dedicated to ensuring that post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families make a successful transition.  

US Air Force.mil

Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base lost its bid to become home to some of the new KC-46 tankers, according to a release from Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

In fact, the new tankers did not go to any air base east of Kansas.

Instead, the 179 new planes will be assigned to bases in Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kansas and Washington state.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told Castor during a phone call that the KC-135 tankers will remain an Air Force priority for decades.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Florida women veterans have a new voice in Washington D.C. It’s Larri Gerson, a veteran claims examiner with the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

Gerson is a new appointee to the federal, VA Committee on Women Veterans which advises VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

She believes her frontline status - as a claims examiner and as a former women veteran coordinator for Florida – earned her appointment to the federal committee.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The region is home to MacDill Air Force Base, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations as well as two of the busiest VA Medical facilities, James A. Haley in Tampa and Bay Pines in Pinellas County, which means there are several ongoing stories to monitor this new year.

The Off the Base news series is a compilation of stories and interviews for, about and sometimes by Florida's veterans and military families. In addition to radio features, there's a blog with practical as well as whimsical information and numerous guest entries from military family members and veterans at OfftheBase.org

The following stories broadcast during 2012 are entries into the PRNDI News Series category the entry is a total of about 26 minutes with five selected pieces:

The Off the Base news series is a compilation of stories for, about and sometimes by Florida's veterans and military families. In addition to radio features, there's a blog with practical as well as whimsical information and numerous guest entries.

The following stories broadcast during 2012 are entries into the Florida AP Broadcast News Series category allowing up to five stories and at least one complete story.

The Off the Base news series is a compilation of stories for, about and sometimes by Florida's veterans and military families. In addition to radio features, there's a blog with practical as well as whimsical information and numerous guest entries.

The following stories broadcast during 2012 are entries into the RTNDA News Series category of up to 30 minutes audio.

1- A former Navy Corpsman, now a Reservist and college student, talks about his five years assisting in surgeries at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. (partial) Run time 1:47

Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & McBride law firm

Bill McBride volunteered for the Marine Corps and Vietnam in 1968 at the height of the war, an act that defined his character and his life.

Tampa attorney McBride died Saturday while spending the holidays in North Carolina. He was memorialized by family, friends and colleagues at a Tampa service today.

McBride was a loving father and husband and will be remembered for the strides he made as a former managing partner of Holland & Knight and more recently as senior partner of the law firm of Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & McBride.

What It Was Like To Serve With Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Dec 28, 2012
Mat Szwajkos / Getty Images Sport

Keith Lassiter served 13 years with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, first in Operation Desert Storm and then later at U.S. Central Command in Tampa.

Lassiter was in Tampa this week and met with Schwarzkopf. He shared some memories of serving with Schwarzkopf with WUSF's John O'Connor.

Lassiter says Schwarzkopf hated his famous nickname, Stormin' Norman, and shied away from the notoriety he earned during the first Gulf War.

Operation Desert Storm Leader Schwarzkopf Dead At 78

Dec 27, 2012
Mat Szwajkos / Getty Images Sport

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded U.S.-led forces furing the first Gulf War, has died the Associated Press is reporting.

Schwarzkopf, 78, lived in Tampa.

Schwarzkopf's last assignment was as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force base.

From ABC News:

Nicknamed "Stormin Norman" and remembered for his swift victory in Desert Storm, retired Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf died today in Tampa.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

A World War II veteran from Sarasota whose account of liberating Holocaust victims from a Nazi train led to reunions with the survivors 60 years later died Monday at his home.

Carrol Walsh,  a retired New York judge, was 91.

Walsh and other American soldiers liberated 2,500 Jewish concentration camp prisoners from a Nazi train at the end of World War II.

His story was posted on a website his friend Matthew Rozell created for the history class he teaches at Hudson Falls High School in upstate New York.

Wreaths Across America

You don’t have to have family or friends buried at the national cemeteries to help place wreaths on veterans’ graves. All you have to do is volunteer some of your time Saturday morning, Dec. 15.

The tradition of laying holiday wreaths on the graves of veterans started in Arlington National Cemetery and has grown to include all national cemeteries, including those in Florida.

Kurt Rotar, director of the Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell, said the hard work of raising money to pay for the wreaths is mostly done.

Yoselis Ramos / WUSF Public Media

Living with rats and bugs. Enduring no heat in the winter or cooling in the summer. Surviving torture.

These are conditions that Lee Ellis endured as a prisoner of war and he says taught him leadership.

Ellis is a retired Air Force colonel, a fighter pilot, who was shot down over Vietnam and spent more than five years as a POW in the downtown prison nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton.”

U.S. Army

Florida Gov. Rick Scott today, Dec. 12, 2012, will honor the Oviedo family of Green Beret Staff Sgt. Robert Miller. His name will be included in Florida's Wall of Honor in Tallahassee.

The Special Forces soldier was killed during a battle in Afghanistan in January 2008. Miller was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2010 for his heroism and valor during that combat.

Wreaths Across America

An iconic Christmas photo went viral six years ago – it shows donated, holiday wreaths laid on the snow-covered graves in Arlington National Cemetery.

Now known as Wreaths Across America, the project has grown to include all national cemeteries.

Three friends took on the challenge to provide holiday wreaths for the veterans buried at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

They started with six wreaths in December 2006.

New U.S. Central Command Leader Nominated

Dec 6, 2012
U.S. Department of Defense

President Obama today nominated a new leader for one of Tampa’s most visible military institutions, U.S. Central Command, based MacDill Air Force Base.

The nominee: Gen. Lloyd Austin, who currently serves as vice chief of staff of the Army. He is one of the military’s most seasoned combat leaders according to a statement from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta:

Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Special Forces Qualifications Course - known as the Q Course - is demanding training that turns traditional fighters into unconventional warriors - Green Berets.

Special Forces prize wit and stamina as much as physical strength. The Q Course also tests leadership - it's an atmosphere that demands improvisation to respond to unstable surroundings.

Here, author Tony Schwalm reads a section of his book from when he moved into the second part of the Q Course that focused on team building.

Tony Schwalm

Tony Schwalm commanded a tank company in Desert Storm, but it left him with a gnawing feeling that the mission was incomplete. So, he gave up the status he’d earned in the conventional Army to forge a new path as an “unconventional warrior” - a Green Beret.

Schwalm not only made it through the Special Forces Qualifications Course – known as the Q Course - he was later brought back to help redesign the test of physical strength, stamina and wits.

VA National Cemeteries Administration

Florida veterans will soon have two more options for burial at VA National Cemeteries in the state. Currently, there are seven national cemeteries, but large populations of veterans in north and east central Florida are still not served.

So, the Department of Veterans Affairs purchased land for two new cemeteries to accommodate about 247,000 veterans living more than 75 miles from any of the current cemeteries.

The annual holiday party held by U.S. Central Command at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base appears to have been cancelled according to the Tampa Tribune.

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