Impromptu Retirement Ceremony of and Old Friend of 10 Years

I went to an impromptu retirement ceremony today of an old friend that I have interacted with on a daily basis for the last 10 years.

My friend was a bit “torn apart” about retiring so abruptly, but realized that at some point all good things must come to an end! My old friend by the way was quite holy!

That’s just life I guess. Sometimes old friends have to go away abruptly, but I know that new friends (if you really want them) seem to always be just around the corner!

P.S. I wish I could also evict the tenants living in the above new structures and find a couple of new and more attractive tenants to reside there! Oh well?

French Revolution “Bastille Day” Event in Tampa

Hey Everyone,

As you know from some of my previous blogs…my good French Navy friend “Marco” has been planning for a large French Social event in celebration of Bastille Day which officially falls on this coming Sunday, July 14th. This was just one of his many tasks in his current position. He worked so diligently on this event over the past 4 months and remarkably accomplished so much for this celebration in spite of being extremely busy with many operational missions as part of his responsibilities within the French Coalition. “Marco” is a great organizer with a keen mind for attention to detail.

The celebration was a actually scheduled for this past Wednesday evening, July 10th due to his boss ( the 2 star French General) needing to travel back to France to participate in the actual Bastille Day weekend events in Paris with the French President and other dignatories there.

As you know, I was delighted (and quite honored) to be invited to this French Revolution event as “The special American friend” of the entire French Coalition group!

As I had expected.. the event on Wednesday evening attended by over 200 people was a great success! Everything was so perfect and I met so many new and interesting people from all over the world. It was truly a wonderful evening.

I took so many videos and pictures….in excess of 200!

Due to getting close to my photo limit in WordPress I’m going to select a representative sample of pics to give you an appreciation of the event.

The Women’s Club on Bayshore Blvd in Tampa where the event was held.

View of Tampa Bay directly across the street from the Women’ Club.

Flowers and French perfume given as a special gift to each women guest.

Photos of the WWIi (98 year old) Veteran honored at the event by the coalition group on behalf of France.

Actual Award certificate.

French Legion of Honor Medal.

The honored award recipient.

The recipient’s family who traveled from all over the country to attend.

Good French coalition friends if mine.

An Italian friend.

Two star French Coalition General

Wonderful 90 year old French lady.

My good Italian friend, Emilia

Marco’s wife Rosaria ” my Italian sister!”

Marco in his Navy uniform.

Group of my good Italian friends.

Some military coalition group attendees from various countries.

Good Korean Officer friend and his wife.

A cute Italian couple who are friends of mine.

Guy in the left is from Iraq and guy on the right from France.

Nice couple from the Chech Republic.

All the photo below show the wonderful appetizers, main course and desserts. The caterer was from France and he is the very best Chef in all of the Tampa/St Pete area.

Ok…about all for now. I will be going with Marco his wife Rosaria and our good Italian friend Emilia to Miami this weekend. I was invited by the French Embassy to be a special guest (thanks to Marco) to attend a formal Bastille Day event at the Port of Miami on Saturday evening. We will then stay in Miami on South Beach for an extra day to enjoy the Beach and the Art Deco vibe there.

As a side note, while in South Beach, plan to meet up with my good blogger friend “Dolly” and her husband for dinner and drinks. They live right in South Beach. Should be a fun weekend!

Doing Volunteering Work While Enjoying Time With Friends At The Zoo

Hey All,

Last Friday I went with a couple of friends of mine (Paul and Burr) to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa to enjoy all the animals there and to do a bit of volunteer work.

We did a lot of walking around the park enjoying all of God’s creations and we also spent some time doing some volunteer work there as well by giving some of animals a good thorough brushing which I know they appreciated on such a hot and humid day.

Later that evening we met up with a couple of other friends for dinner. Will discuss that part of the day a bit later as you might find it a bit interesting!

Okay…so after brushing down all the animals, we were supposed to go to another area to wash down the Elephants. However, when we got to that area, to our surprise the little elephant decided to take a bath on his own and to treat his mom to one too! I could sense the mother saying to her child (the baby elephant) “thank you dear for giving me a nice shower, but don’t forget to wash behind those big ears sweetie”.

So later after doing our volunteering work, we decided to take a ride on the log amusement to get a quick splash of water on us to cool down a bit (as inspired by the little elephant in the above video).

Ok, after a hard day of work at the Zoo, of course mixed in with some fun, we had planned to meet a few other friends at a nearby Columbian Restaurant. However plans changed a bit. Our good friend Sam and his husband Jerry suggested that we all meet at the Hard Rock Casino and that he would treat us all to a nice dinner there.

Sam has a very interesting background. He looks so ordinary and down to earth, but he is actually the highest stakes roller (gambler) at the Hard Rock Casino! He has been gambling professionally for 18 years and has a very keen and photogenic mind and can remarkably remember all cards played. He is one, if not the very best video poker gambler in the entire United States. He wins so many national competitions. He gambles and this is “not” a typo!…. in excess of $ 765 thousand dollars a month and wins (on average) about $ 150 thousand dollars in just one night! To think, I usually play penny slot machines and get excited even if I win $ 25 and begin to get a bit nervous and then depressed if I’m down $300 for the night. I can’t imagine gambling that kind of money that Sam plays like it is nothing.

When we arrived to the casino, Sam first gave us a quick behind the scenes private tour of the highest of high-stakes rooms there at the casino that is normally not seen by the public and that needs special authorization and a full security check to enter. When you go into that special room all the seats there are so plush and each high stakes gambler has his/her own private masseur to give back and shoulder massages to as one gambles. There are also special tables right by each gambler with a wide variety of exotic food and drinks. What a comfortable way to gamble the night away! Sam even has a special seat with his name embroider in it! So classy! I would have loved to have taken some pics but I think it would not have been cool to do so in there.

Sam also has his own personal host that takes good care of him and always meets him when he arrives to the Casino. He is there to assist Sam in whatever he needs all night long. Must be nice!

So after our tour, we were them escorted by Sam’s host into a special high stakes restaurant which is not open to the general public. I was simply amazed when I entered. There were all kinds of wonderful appetizers displayed and totally available to us to help ourselves to and of course, all the drinks were gratuitous as well…thanks to Sam! You wouldn’t believe the size of the shrimp…they were the largest I ever saw! Even tried some caviar. Each of us had a private waiter assigned to us our and you could have any and all of the delicious meals displayed on the menu (again..all gratuitous!) I could tell by the attention we were getting, that Sam is definitely a top notch client there and gets top priority service there. It’s as if Sam was a famous king or the President of the United States. It was simply amazing! What a great experience! Sam is really a good down to earth friend who’s so generous.

Sam always has so many complimentary tickets that are given to him by the Casino for attending all kinds of professional sporting events, concerts and other fun stuff and he really loves to share these with us as he really can’t use them all.

Sam is a genuine and giving person and it is so nice to have him as a friend, not because of his stature, but primarily because he is just a very nice guy and fun to hang around with.

I also later found out that the Seminole Hard Rock casino actually takes in the highest revenue of all the casinos in the country and even tops the ones in Vegas! Reason it is so profitable is because of it’s large size, it’s strategic location in a populated city and it virtually has no competition in the area from other casinos. The place is always packed all seven days of the week at all hours of the day and night! Trust me I have seen it crowded throughout the entire night !

It seems that during my short stay thus far since being back in Tampa, I’ve been making some really nice and interesting new friends and have managed to branch out into so many diverse social groups both American and International as well.

I’m just trying to take it all in!

Have a great rest of your week.

Annual TBA 4th of July Party on Maderia Beach, FL

Hey All,

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July Weekend with family and friends. Mine was filled with all kinds of activities as usual to keep me amused!

Today’s post will focus on the annual Tampa Bay Adventures ((TBA) 4th of July Party which was held at Bob and Ana’s beach house located right on Maderia Beach.

Bob and Ana go all out for this party preparing all kinds of food and dessert, supplying all the beer and soft drinks and hiring a live band to making the party festive and to get people up and dancing to some great tunes. Everyone that attends usually brings a side dish and some other beverages of choice to share as well, so needless to say…we don’t starve and have plenty of food and drink to last way into the night.

Bob and Ana have a really cool place. Their house is on stilts and they have essentially turned the downstairs area under their house into a fun and private beach bar to include a stage for the band, a dancing area, several bars, plenty of seating and tables for guests and neat beach decor’ throughout. In addition their house is so close (just 1_2 minute walk) to the beach where people from the party also go to congregate and socialize with other TBA friends.

At Saturday’s party we ended up having over 150 people in attendance who trickled in all afternoon and evening to join in the fun! What a great time. This hosts aim to please !

Enjoy some of the pics and videos that I took of this great event!

Have a great rest of your weekend!

The 2019 Wounded Warrior Games — Tampa, Florida

Hey All,

Over the past few weeks I attended various portions of the 2019 Wounded Warrior Games in Tampa, FL. As you know prior to the start of these games I helped many wounded veterans train at the MacDill Air Force Base gym in preparation for the actual games. Thought you might enjoy some of the YouTube videos that I have included in this post. These wounded warriors are truly impressive and don’t let their physical challenges effect their motivation to reach their highest potential. They should inspire us all. They are truly magnificent!

Enjoy the videos!

More than 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from all four U.S. military branches, U.S. Special Operations Command and five partner nations are in the Tampa area until June 30 competing in adaptive sports as a part of the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games, hosted by U.S. Special Operations Command.

This is the second time the Warrior Games are being held in public venues and not on a military installation. The games are free to watch, open to the public and offer a rare opportunity to watch and be inspired by wounded warriors who have shown incredible resilience as they overcome significant physical and psychological challenges to compete in adaptive sports all around Tampa.

Crowd support is a huge benefit for the athletes.

“Warrior Games provide opportunities for athletes to heal and to regain confidence,” said Scott Danberg, this year’s sports director. “When the service members walk into the ceremony and hear the crowd cheer, the value and support really sink in.”

The opening ceremony was held June 22 at Amalie Arena. The arena was packed and the ceremony kicked off with a procession of teams as they entered to high-energy music and were welcomed with standing ovations from the crowd. Comedian Jon Stewart was the emcee of the opening ceremonies. It was his fourth year participating in the Warrior Games and when asked why he makes the time to participate, he was quick to answer. “I keep coming back to the games for these athletes,” he said. “They don’t give up, so I’m not going to give up on them.”

The torch was carried by multiple athletes and passed around the arena before finally being used by USSOCOM Commander Army Gen. Richard Clarke, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and WWE wrestler Titus O’Neill to light the cauldron. Clarke and Castor spoke to the crowd along with Mr. Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. All spoke about the unbreakable spirit of the athletes and their families and how they are proof life continues after becoming wounded, ill or injured, which inspires many. The show ended with a concert from country music star Hunter Hayes.

The athletes are fiercely competitive and train throughout the year to prepare, but the games are about so much more than just the medals earned. Through adaptive sports and reconditioning activities, service members get help with healing in a multitude of ways throughout their recovery and reintegration process: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

“Being part of the Warrior Games is both rewarding and inspiring,” said U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Dalton Mask, Army golf team member. “It’s motivating to still feel part of something bigger.”

Teams representing the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Denmark are competing in archery, cycling, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis and track and field.

The Paralympic-style sports competition will be held throughout the Tampa area, including at Amalie Arena, the Tampa Convention Center, Clearwater’s Long Aquatic Center and the University of South Florida.

The Warrior Games are scheduled to conclude June 30 with the closing ceremony back at Amalie Arena. For more information, stories, imagery, medal count and more, visit www.af.mil/warriorgames2019.