Field Of Honor Ceremony For Military Killed In Last 3 Months

The Field of Honor where names of the fallen are etched at the Hillsborough Veterans Memorial Park.

The Veterans Council of Hillsborough County holds a brief ceremony every three months to read aloud the names of the fallen and to mark their contribution and sacrifice in the fight against terrorism. To be recognized on Jan. 13, 2018, are those who were killed in October, November, and December of 2017:

  • Four personnel killed during Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq, Syria and Yemen)
  • Four personnel killed during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (Afghanistan)
  • Three sailors lost in a C-2A Greyhound transport plane in the Philippine Sea
  • Four Special Forces soldiers killed in Niger
  • 74 previously unidentified remains of military members from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam (military personnel formerly listed as missing-in-action now identified through advancements in mitochondrial DNA research).

The tribute also will include law enforcement officers lost in the line of duty.

The ceremony is planned Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins, Jr. Veterans Museum, 3602 U.S. Highway 301 N., Tampa, FL.

Plans for the public event include a banner presentation by Blue Star Mothers of Tampa Bay Inc., the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club color guard, Missing Man Formation flyover by Ye Mystic Airkrewe, Gold Star Families, patriotic music by Cody Palmer/VFW Post 8108, and a traditional rifle salute and taps by the Sgt. Walter P. Ryan Detachment 1226 Marine Corps League of Riverview.

Details are available by calling the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum at (813) 744-5502 or (813) 246-3170.

Dedications Recognize Men of Service

Col. Merchant on the right receiving the Bronze Star.

Lake Renamed for “Bo”

The City of Tampa renamed the lake in Gadsden Park today after a Special Operations paratrooper who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea among many overseas assignments.

Known as “Bo,” Col. James L. Merchant III, 46, died in the Gadsden park lake during a training parachute jump in 2009.

A photo of Merchant on the river he loved from an online "legacy" dedicated to his memory.

He was commissioned in the Army through the Citadel ROTC program served more than two decades being awarded many honors including the Bronze Star, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal and the Joint Service Commendation Medal. He was stationed with the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base at the time of the accident.

An online “legacy” page dedicated to the memory of Col. Merchant stated that his favorite place in Tampa was on the river below his house. He is survived by his wife, parents and brother.


Veterans Museum to be Named after Rear Admiral

LeRoy Collins, Jr. at a Collins Center Board of Trustees meeting in Tampa, September 2009.

Next week, Hillsborough County’s Veterans Museum Building will be dedicated to the memory of Rear Adm. LeRoy Collins, Jr. who was killed earlier this year while riding his bicycle near downtown Tampa.

The dedication ceremony will recognize Collins’ life and accomplishments and is scheduled Dec. 8th at  2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum, 3602 Hwy. 301 North, Tampa.

The son of a former governor and Florida native, LeRoy Collins, Jr. received his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1956, and spent the next 10 years on active duty before transferring to the Navy Reserves. He retired from the Navy Reserves as a two-star Rear Admiral in October 1990.

In 2007, Rear Admiral Collins was appointed executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs where he was a fierce advocate on behalf of Florida’s more than 1.6 million veterans and their families.

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