Bob’s Vets

Bob’s Vets

Bob’s Vets

A Breakfast Get Together for All Veterans, Their Spouses and Their Friends

By Diane M. Loeffler

 

Thursday mornings are special for veterans who are within driving distance of the Ruskin Bob Evans restaurant. A large area is set aside for veterans and their guests around 8:30 a.m. Just inside the entrance of the restaurant, you will see small statues that represent different branches of military service. Tell the host or hostess that you are here to eat breakfast with Bob’s Vets, and he or she will direct you to the area near the front window. Sit anywhere you want. You are welcome to join any table with an empty chair. Everyone is friendly and ready to hear your story and to share those.

Expect to be greeted by Steve Browning and Dean Johnson. Around 9 a.m. everyone stands for the Pledge of Allegiance. Somewhat later, you may be hearing some announcements about the new Veteran’s Clinic, the Mission Act for Veterans, an Honor Flight trip, or other useful information. Now and then there is a special speaker. Mostly, however, it is a low-key gathering of people who have a lot in common.

Steve Browning says, “When I see someone with a service hat, I talk to them and invite them to join us. Our group has no elections. We are just a social club, a breakfast club. Over 600 people have come to our breakfasts at one time or another. About once a month we pay for the breakfasts for our World War II Vets.” In addition to being active in Bob’s Vets, Browning is currently the Flotilla 75 Vice Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in Apollo Beach and Ruskin.

Terrell Dossey, “The Chief,” was in charge until he passed away in June of 2018. He said, “Everyone here has a story.” This is still true. Ask around, and you will hear amazing, touching and funny stories.

Cypress Creek resident, Dennis Brown, has been coming every Thursday since March. He says, “I keep coming back because of the guys who are here. I get to rub elbows with my buddies. We have the same interests.” Brown was an Army Aviation Huey Door Gunner. He says, “I helped deliver a baby on a helicopter once. I don’t know who was more scared, the lady or me.”

Ron Hubner wears a hat that reads, “Tin Can Navy.” When asked about it, Huber says he served on a destroyer, “They weren’t very well-constructed, so we called them tin cans. Tin Can sailors are a proud bunch. The ships are the smallest ones in the fleet, but they did the most damage and were to be feared. One funny thing is that the metal was so thin that the bombs would go right through and not detonate until after the bomb passed through the ship. I am sure that the bombers were scratching their heads and wondering why there was no explosion.” These days, Huber volunteers with a literary ministry called Parents and Children Advance Together.

Richard Mangels served as a plane captain with the Navy between 1956 and 1959. He was responsible for all the systems on the plane, making sure that the tires, oil and everything was in working order. Most veterans who served during this period didn’t receive educational benefits, but he did because his time on the USS Shangri-la included responding to a crisis situation.

This Bob’s Vets group meets at the Bob Evans Restaurant at 102 Commercial Center Drive in Ruskin. It is near I-75. If you are interested in learning more about Bob’s Vets or in attending a Bob’s Vets gathering in other locations, go to bobsvets.com.

 

IN THE PHOTO: Some of the regular attendees of the breakfasts purchase Bob’s Vets shirts. The shirts’ colors show the branch of the military they served in.

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Veterans Pay Tribute to Departed Comrades

By Frank Kepley, CAPT USN (Ret.), News Military Correspondent

 

The Military Veterans Organization of Sun City Center sponsored a Memorial Day Tribute to deceased veterans on Monday Morning at 10 a.m. at the Kings Point Veterans Theater. The ceremony opened with a Grand Marshal Procession, led by the 2019 Grand Marshal, Sgt. James Glass, a Korean War veteran.  The Cadence was played by drummer Danny Chavez from the Praise Band, United Methodist Church. 

The Opening Ceremony and Posting of Colors was directed by Benny Blackshire USA (Ret), President of MOAA SCC Chapter and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.

LTC Blackshire welcomed and introduced the Honored Guests and CAPT Harry Benter gave the Invocation. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Lt. Col. Gordon Bassett, USAF (Ret). The National Anthem was then led by James Feist, USAF (Vet).

The Honored Speaker, Colonel DJ Reyes, USA (Ret), was introduced by Maj. Jim Haney, USMC (Ret).  COL. Reyes retired from the Army with over 33 years’ service.  He earned his Bachelors, Masters, and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Notre Dame, the US Naval War College, and Temple University School of Law.

As a community Advocate for Veterans issues at the local, state and national levels, DJ recently served as a DoD contractor in assisting Gulf Coast region veterans, Guard and Reserve with meaningful employment and useful Career Counseling. DJ continues his community service role as  the Senior Military Advisor/Mentor to the 13th Judicial Circuit’s Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). 

A tribute to the Grand Marshal was then given by Maj. Jim Haney, which was followed by a musical interlude and salute to the Armed Forces by the Trinity Baptist Church directed by Rev. James Feist. 

A Roll Call of departed comrades accompanied by the Living Flag Tribute was given by Mrs. Rosemary Clifton, USN (Vet); Rev. Lt Col Sam Rorer, USAF (Ret); Mrs. Beverly Gaussiran USA (Vet); and Rev. LTC Julian Graham ISA (Ret).

Taps was then played by Rev. Feist and the Rendering Bell Honors carried out by CDR Ed Socha, USN (Ret), Pearl Harbor Survivor assisted by LTC Paul Wheat, USA (Ret). Amazing Grace was then played by the Bagpiper, Mr. Jason Marchand and the Colors were retired.  A placing of the wreath, donated by the Sun City Center Funeral Home, was then placed by members of the Boy Scout Troop 661.

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Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence Together

Celebrating Independence Together

By E. Adam Porter

 

The first week in July, every year, my extended family gathers at the beach in my hometown for a weeklong reunion. It’s a wonderful, relaxing time of sharing life together, filled with the familiar aromas of salt air, sunscreen, and delicious grilled meat; of days spent building sandcastles with the little ones and being buried in the sand; of shared jokes and singing, of snorkeling, fishing, spectacular skimboarding wipeouts, walks on the beach, and magnificent sunsets.

We catch up with each other, talk about days gone by, and pass our collective wisdom along to the young ones. The kids giggle as we demonstrate the stingray shuffle, do their best to listen to our lectures about the dangers of riptides, and experience temporary hearing loss when reminded they need another application of sunblock. We collect shells and sand dollars, spot pods of dolphin, and experience the patience-testing chore of untangling an open reel.

Talking with my brothers and our friends, we recall when we were kids with sandy shorts and pruny fingers, begging for Just Five More Minutes swimming in the water or playing in the sand. Those days really don’t seem so long ago… until my niece runs by, chasing her two-year-old daughter. I glance at my brother, thinking: “Wasn’t that us, just yesterday?”

Mom sits under the umbrella and shares stories about the island the way it used to be. We all chime in, reminiscing about fishing off the city pier and stores with shell parking lots. About coquina concrete and small, single-story homes with jalousie windows. The soda bottle vending machine at the bike shop. Building crab traps in the yard, smoked mullet and fried grouper back when the fishing was really good. Sunday afternoons trading stories with the liveaboards at the marina and weekdays cruising the bay after school.

The nostalgia is hypnotic and cathartic, a welcome port in the storms of life, and an oral history of The Way We Were. As kids, we never realized we were collecting memories, but now we’re passing that torch to our children and grandchildren… or would, if we could get them out of the water (five more minutes, pleeeeeeeeezzz!).

During this week, on July 4th, my family comes together with everyone on the island and across the country to commemorate our Founding Fathers’ Declaration of Independence from tyranny. It is, for the kids and for me, one of the best days of Family Beach Week, every year.

The celebration begins with the annual Independence Day Parade, watching the Privateers cruise their benevolent pirate ship down the main drag, tossing beads and firing their water cannons. Far below, on the sidewalk, the kids — armed to the teeth with Super Soakers — give as good as they get.

Later that evening, thousands of tourists and locals line the strand to enjoy one of the most impressive fireworks displays anywhere. Seven miles of sky flowers paint the twilight with booming radiance from horizon to horizon. Beneath that technicolor sky, the kids laugh and dance and sing, waving sparklers to write their names on the night.

Once again, watching them takes me back. When I lean forward to offer a few terse warnings about firework safety, I hear echoes of my parents. And that gets me thinking about how time and circumstance transforms accident-prone children gleefully waving flaming sticks into parents who repeat cautionary tales before lighting similar sticks for their own kids.

Further up the beach, close to the water line, the older teens and twenty-somethings have their own lighters, as well as much larger and more dynamic flaming sticks. The older adults toss them a few cursory safety tips, which they largely ignore. They’ve heard it all before. Soon, though, someone hollers and comes running for some ice from the cooler. We old guys glance at each other and grin. Sometimes, singed fingers are the best way to reinforce the correlation of responsibility and freedom.

And, that gets me thinking about the birthright our Founding Fathers have passed down to us. Defending our Independence is a shared responsibility, a commission handed down by that first generation of Americans. The Founders declared that freedom is every human’s indisputable right. Then they risked everything to prove it, because maintaining freedom requires personal responsibility. Something I remind my boys at every opportunity. Independence is the right of every person, and it’s worth celebrating. It’s also worth defending… I’m glad we’re able to do both together.

Happy Independence Day. 

 

 

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Senator Rubio Mobile Office in SCC on June 5

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Dozens of staff children attended National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at South Bay Hospital recently. This annual event is an educational program in the United States and Canada where parents take their children to work with them for one day.

The children toured various departments in the hospital including Food & Nutrition, Laboratory, Materials Management, Plant Operations, Surgery, ED, Diagnostic Imaging, Outpatient Surgery, Pharmacy, Progressive Care Unit, Med/Surgery Unit, Telemetry Unit and Rehabilitation to learn about what their parents do every day in a healthcare environment.

Team members also helped lead them through some hands-on activities to focus their energy on learning tasks that help run a hospital and take care of patients. For more information about South Bay Hospital, please call 813-634-0496 or visit SouthBayHospital.com.

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This Memorial Day Weekend and every day, The Florida Aquarium remembers the fallen and thanks all military members and veterans for protecting and serving our country. Join them Memorial Day Weekend, Friday, May 24 – Monday, May 27, 2019, with amazing animals and plants that call the Aquarium home. The Aquarium is open every day: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

During this upcoming holiday weekend, all active duty, veteran, retired or drilling reservist or National Guardsman can receive two free* general admission tickets. Additional guests (up to four people) also can get an exclusive 50% off Aquarium general admission ticket. To receive this ticket promotion, a valid military ID must be presented at The Florida Aquarium ticket office. Tickets are not available for advance online purchase.

While at the Aquarium, go from tree level to sea level and see more than 14,000 animals, including native Florida birds and otters, to sharks, alligators, seahorses and more. You are sure to have a fantastic experience. Sights include a large simulated wetlands environment located under a tall glass atrium, shallow bays, and beaches, and a coral reef ecosystem encompassed in half a million gallons of natural seawater.

After exploring all the exhibits inside, come aboard the 72-foot Wild Dolphin Cruise catamaran for a 75-minute excursion around Tampa Bay for a chance to see wild dolphins and seabirds in their natural habitat. (Reservations and an additional charge are required for the Wild Dolphin Cruise.)

To learn more about Memorial Day at The Florida Aquarium and all of the upcoming events offered at The Florida Aquarium year-round, visit the website.

 

*Offer includes any active duty, veteran, retired or drilling reservist or National Guardsmen and must be redeemed with a valid military ID at The Florida Aquarium Ticket Office. 

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The August 2019 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The August 2019 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Recall the fun of the Fourth of July Breakfast and Pool Party, find a new and interesting story in local Book Nooks, meet a neighbor who’s a real clown, and get to know a creative local sculptor. Then, discover an idyllic North...

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Third Annual Christmas in July a Tremendous Success

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Waste Management Meeting — Important Change

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Your Hillsborough County Office of Neighborhood Relations is reaching out to SCC neighborhood residents to join the kick-off for residential solid waste customers in the unincorporated areas. Hillsborough County Solid Waste Management is hosting a meeting...

Camp Bayou gets ready for summer!

Camp Bayou gets ready for summer!

Camp Bayou Gets Ready for Summer!

By Dolly Cummings, Director Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center

 

There’s lots of sun and fun this season as Camp Bayou gets ready for summer! Saturday, June 1 is National Trails Day. There will be cart tours, scavenger hunts, and other activities. New this year is our guided Fern Walk, starting at 9 a.m. Explore the wild west side of Camp Bayou, for a trail that is less traveled. No registration necessary. An 8 a.m. Fun Run will hit the trails for an easy 5K. Those who complete the run will be treated to ice cold watermelon slices as a reward. Register here.

The Third Saturday Paddle Tours continue through the summer, as weather conditions allow. Be sure to reserve your space if you wish to join the group. Call 813-641-8545. You can rent a canoe or kayak for just $25 or bring your own for a $5 donation. Please arrive by 9 a.m. for a 90-minute tour. 

Save the Date: Saturday, August 3, 2019 is our annual Back to School-Back to Nature event, 9 – noon. Kids visit various nature stations and get a free school supply item, plus raffles for backpacks, binders and more!

Teachers: the school year may be just about over but it’s never too early to book your field trips for the fall. Fill out this request form to secure your preferred day.

Camp Bayou is always looking for a few good volunteers to help with youth programs, plus other tasks that keep the Center running smoothly. If you are interested in volunteering, fill out this volunteer form.

The Center is open from Thursday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. for passive recreational pursuits such as wildlife watching, nature photography and trail walks. General admission is still free.

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is a public- private partnership between Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery, Inc. (B.O.L.D.), and Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management. Camp Bayou is located three miles south of SR-674 at the end of 24th St SE in Ruskin. Visit the website.

 

In the photo: Kids enjoy discovering critters at Camp Bayou! (Photo courtesy Camp Bayou)

A Quiet Getaway at Wakulla Springs State Park

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The September 2019 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

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The August 2019 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The August 2019 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Recall the fun of the Fourth of July Breakfast and Pool Party, find a new and interesting story in local Book Nooks, meet a neighbor who’s a real clown, and get to know a creative local sculptor. Then, discover an idyllic North...

SCCCA Pool Party Aug 10

SCCCA Pool Party Aug 10

The SCC Community Association will sponsor a pool party on August 10, at the Community Pool off Cherry Hills Drive. Music will be provided by local musician Marc Chamberlin. The café will offer food and drink specials, and the water volleyball club will be...

Third Annual Christmas in July a Tremendous Success

Third Annual Christmas in July a Tremendous Success

The United Methodist Church of SCC, in partnership with The Kiwanis Club, hosted the Third Annual Christmas in July event to benefit Southshore area children on Saturday, July 13 in the LEC Hall.    Approximately 200 kids and their parents, came to...

Waste Management Meeting — Important Change

Waste Management Meeting — Important Change

Your Hillsborough County Office of Neighborhood Relations is reaching out to SCC neighborhood residents to join the kick-off for residential solid waste customers in the unincorporated areas. Hillsborough County Solid Waste Management is hosting a meeting...