10/10/2001 THE FOUNDATION
The USCENTCOM Memorial Foundation, Inc., is a non-profit, federal and Florida State registered organization, in compliance with code 501 [C]  established in 2001. We were publicly funded, and accepted donations for the Memorial at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida. No taxpayer dollars or Federal grants were used other than the land the Memorial is built on, as supplied by the US Air Force.
We are and were about the “TROOPS”. It is not about specific units, branches of service, rank, our board, or individuals. Our focus was clear and defined, we serve and recognize the “TROOPS” and those who have paid the ultimate price in service to their country under the control and direction of the AOR of the Central Command. They are all heroes…
All of our funds have been raised by donation. With that said, any information about our Corporation, the Memorial, its Membership and Personnel may be obtained by writing to the President, VP-secretary and Treasurer. After fifteen years in existence, the foundation today in 2016 the Centcom Memorial Foundation has completed its task, advancing as far as we could bowing to the priorities and needs of our Armed Forces at the MacDill AFB site.
Extreme changes in policy and numerous delays after delays have taken a simple three year project and dragged it to fifteen years. We have fallen back in our attempts to further expand and upgrade the project due to a lack of cooperation, those changes dictated by the DOD, which affected the basic goals we wished to accomplish. Thus our job is done, and we wish the very best for those who will follow…in supporting the families of the fallen, and hope the Memorial as it stands will serve it’s puepose.
CAUGHT IN THE WAR
The unnamed war effort turned things upside down. When our project started in 2001, the CENTCOM KIA count at that time was measured at 148. That made for simple engraving on the walls originally planned for black granite sections.
Today the WAR Killed in Action tops 7000 and the wounded count is at 50,000 plus. And we are active in many other locations under the AOR. The Arab spring turned into a long hard winter. Our project represents one side of the heavy price the troops have paid. It also means some original plans had to be scrapped midstream twice and the project changed in terms of the finishing to reflect the “ The branding of CENTCOM” and the significant changes to the base.
In the interim, we lost our architect and friend who gave so much, when he passed away. Our staff became smaller, we are all retirement age now, and fifteen years is enough, thus we have scrapped plans for any further future upgrades to the Memorial and will turn to other projects. We will not forget the troops. We will also remember who were not there for us to continue.
Money, donations are nonexistent today. The public is tired of war and cooperation from anyone on base became tight, no one came forward to help, in fact one or two hindered us and wasted two years over paperwork.
The DOD has upped the security at the base, understandable in lieu of bad press over various non-professional indiscretions by the senior staff, which made the front page of most newspapers and the TV for months.
None of the current levels of security were on the table when the project started. After several incidents attempted breaches, some very bad rated incidents involving shooting and gate security, homeless excursions onto the base, the real tabloid killer surfaced and it was pretty but not that pretty. That forced the DOD to review the entire civilian base pass privileges.
It involved some really bad press about a few beautiful ladies from the Tampa Bay Area, with base passes, palsy relationships with parties and high ranking officers, and it made the national news ad nauseam. The press was literally camped in front of one of the houses of people involved which was Mrs. Jill Kelly, a “Macdill AFB Civilian Liaison person” . Thats led to investigations and the Petraeus Scandal.
It lasted quite a while, embarrassing the high staff and it forced the security issue on base access for other good support civilians who were not taking advantage of the situation. Dedicated local Tampa Bay fans. Like us. The entire civilians on base issue blew out of proportion and we were suddenly without any help.
Regardless of what it is called, mission names, and protective rhetoric mean nothing, we are at war, people are dying militarily and civilian wise and terrorism, is a state of mind, not a state, has no borders. Which with the increased gate security led Representative David Jolley’s article (Tampa Times) on the dangerous backed up base traffic at the main gate and the morning gridlock every day. A really good security person would refer to it as sitting ducks. We used to call it a "HOT LZ”.
The Central Command Memorial structure is complete at MacDill AFB. It stands proudly in front of two new additions to MacDill, namely the CENTCOM building and the Joint Intelligence Command Headquarters Building, part of the growth and revitalization of MacDill AFB. The base hospital is new, as well as other ancillary facilities on the base. We wish them well, it would make a splendid park, just add tables, umbrellas and can still be utilized for the formal Changes of Command and other events and procedure, rituals the base can utilize. Parking is adjacent and it is in a secure area.
An explanation of why it took so long…
In Feb 2001, the United States Central Command was approached by the founders to discuss the possibility of building a Memorial to honor the men and women who served under the umbrella of CENTCOM. The Commander at that time was Gen. Tommy R. Franks who felt the idea was both commendable and necessary. And then he retired a couple years later, and with him, his support for the project.
We were formerly incorporated the 10th of October 2001. The Foundation immediately had meetings with the base engineers who gave us guidelines for the construction and the approximate location and direction the memorial faced. Guidelines changed frequently since this, a new project, that unfortunately fell into a quagmire of new base construction.
We received our Tax Exempt Status 501(c)(3) in June 2002. We started fundraising. The Base basically approved our site plan and signed off. At receptions community leaders were then presented with the Memorial Foundation's Introduction of Concept. It was warmly received. And that was the last we heard of them and their support.
Ceremonial Ground Breaking took place in January 2003. Attended by local dignitaries, past honorary board members and Gen. Tommy Franks. The process to achieve congressional approval started and then so did the war.
The base construction, over one Billion dollars in upgrades and new buildings to house the war efforts at CENTCOM, upgraded facilities for SOCOM, a new Base Hospital, facility, roadways, base force protection implementations, added security all took precedence over our development of the Memorial based on the designs submitted, approved and changed again.
After the plans were approved in 2003, they were reviewed in Washington for approval by the House of Representatives, the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Defense and the United States Senate. This is the procedure that needed to be followed even though we are not using government funding. Forget about it we were delayed again. And the paperwork for some reason went missing.
We had meetings with the base Commander and the engineers and we thought everything was on line and on time line plus and were accepting the fact we were now only two years behind.
The unclear and stagnated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan escalated and “ Surges” a new tactical operative word meant more deployment, more intel, more people and more needs which became the long Arab winter after a very short Arab spring. With new characters popping up with scenarios from Libya, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iran. The next development ISIS (ISIL) was born out of ex-Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives. The Arab name for ISIL, SiS, is Daesh.
Adding insult to injury, our paperwork, somehow got lost on at that time during the tenure of the 21st SEC of Defense, the highly regarded comedic Donald Rumsfeld. The initial paperwork got lost or it just got ignored in Washington. Resubmitted as rules were changed as to what the funding could, can, or must be. No one could get answers or direction. Our project simply did not fall into anyones “In” basket, thus it never arrived at an “Out” basket.
In 2008, after Congressional approval, came through, after the paperwork was lost in Washington, and then resubmitted, changed and altered, redrawn and redesigned, the newly designated site area was approved.
Construction began immediately as we didn’t want to get bumped again. We moved and started building. It was a costly wait while Washington fiddled and concrete and rebar prices burned upward. Our labor costs doubled. The security levels increased, raising the costs and time spent on clearances. Our laborers received base passes easier then members of the foundation. It was starting to get frustrating.
I asked if the base could furnish one of the sky lifts for about ten minutes so we could secure some aerial photos of the site for the press and in particular to help us with fundraising. Big mistake, somehow the base JAG got wind of my request and that opened a year and a half investigation to see if our paperwork with all the new rules and regs were applicable.
I will say it right here and now between the Base Commander and the JAG, this wasted another year and a half, with rising costs and more red tape and hurt the project severely. They found nothing wrong.
Finally, The Board of Directors of the CENTCOM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION are pleased to announce that on Friday the 18th of January 2008, the contract to build the CENTCOM MEMORIAL was awarded and issued. Finally so we thought.
From 2008 to 2011 the basic construction was completed to the point of the initial phase. It also meant back to fundraising as the delays and money expended expotentionally forced us to raise more income because of delays and required changes.
By now the recession hit full force and the housing bubble busted. Money became tight, and we had to look to other sources. Also as the construction began on the two new buildings for the Command headquarters and the Joint Intelligence building, it really hindered things for us.
Huge state of the art complexes, mirrored in design and prominence, but it brought new issues of security, regulations, access and communication.
The Command Headquarters building was completed in 2011 and some of the construction barriers and security options still made it very difficult to get done what we needed to do. We wanted to go further and update our ten year old project but got no where, mired in mud, we didn’t even have a point of contact. Like we were forgotten. The we got the news about security measures after some bad publicity surfaced.
Another meeting with changes to the construction. The architectural design and plans are by the late and renowned Architect C. Randolph Wedding of Wedding and Associates, Architects, Inc were modified to update the new cost limitations imposed by the government and finally approved. This was to be a classic error later on/in the construction using the tiles instead of granite since the tiles were on a schedule that no one paid attention to despite conversations to that effect.
The Washington game changers meant we had to redraw basically the entire project since the materials we had originally planned to use [Black Granite and a slab configuration] went over the government gifting budget to a less expensive option of tiles and held in place [temporarily] with removable clips and screws with decorative washers called rosettes.
We had no other option but to meet the cost reduction to comply with Washington. The rosettes had a shelf life [maybe a year or two] and their purpose was to temporarily hold the inscribed tiles in place till they were inscribed and then epoxied permanently into place. We completed what we could do up to that point.
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
OBSTRUCTIONS and DEALING ON GOVERNMENT PROPERTY - That was the straw that broke the Camels back. As the new security measures, imposed by the DOD , the good folks of Tampa Bay would have extreme difficulty or even gaining access to see the Memorial. That was the killer. Suggestions of a bus twice daily (we had a volunteer or two and a bus available) for tours got nowhere. We were literally done at that point.
GOOD THOUGHTS - That was the original basic premise of a Memorial for those who paid the ultimate price of freedom was for and with access for the people of Tampa Bay, the Military and Visitors, plus the obvious additional usage for Military pomp and ceremony. As things developed the access issue became impossible with few or no solutions.
BOTTOM LINE - And we did what we could to finish things and could not raise additional funding for a Memorial to serve the Military on a base that did not permit Civilians to visit and pay their respects. It’s a simple as that.
Poor Communication - The security, access and red tape to build on federal soil are unbelievable and are beyond reality. And no one even made attempts to help us because we did not fit under anyones job description and we were not part of the service or government.
GAME CHANGERS - The DOD stepped in, with new rules and made it impossible for us to continue. We were as “Friends of MacDIll” on the same list as the scandalizers. It basically killed us. Just getting a base pass became a nightmare with personnel restrictions, layer upon layer as the threats increased, whereas access became more difficult.
NOT MY JOB - Obviously it became no ones job. Another headache was turnover. On a war footing continuity is important, the revolving door at CENTCOM vital to the effort was a disaster for us. From the General staff on down, contacting anyone never got you the same phone number twice…to the same voice.
TURNOVER - There were nine Centcom Commanders, six assigned, three temporary and every staff change literally meant we knew no one and no one’s line was always busy. The change of Command ceremonies were so frequent they could of left the chairs in place….
WE REPRESENTED THE BEST - We were different from the other charities who secured large and free TV budgets. We represent those who have paid the ultimate price. We don’t have the right pictures, Bright house support, or Hollywood and episodes to show who we care for, since our final shot would be a flag draped coffin. The bigger groups with access sucked the oxygen out of the room. People would help the wounded, but talking about the deceased was taboo.
TALKING THE TALK, NOT WALKING THE WALK - Just the small pie wedge of 7000+ killed in action that few speak of. Calls to fellow groups like the YYYY and XXX fell on deaf ears. They are out there having enough problems raising funds. And some groups offering to help did nothing. Lots of talk but little support. That was disappointing.
IMPOSSIBLE RED TAPE - Worse we could not function under the controls set upon us as a vendor. For me to bring a prospective donor to the base or contractor involved too much hassle, a one hour meeting took a day at minimum. Few donators and vendors will give you that or succumb to the background checks and more politics.
TOO BUSY - No one came forward from the Central Command, the Air Force Base Command, and we got passed off from the Command to the Base Command who moved us to the Engineers. When we were transferred to the base operations the CENTCOM project had to be reviewed by the JAG This was a complete waste of our time, our money and our efforts. .
Spending over a year, 15 months, with the JAG as to paperwork and Congressional cost controls on a fully civilian funded operation, which was already approved years earlier, no government money needed was another setback. It took fifteen months to make sure the “I’s were dotted and the “T”s crossed. They (JAG) found nothing wrong, except we found we lost fifteen months.
GIFTING - We were a civilian organization, gifting a million dollar Memorial to the soldiers and families of CENTCOM Headquarters, which in turn is basically a tenant on an Air Force base. The chain of legality and ethics dictates that we must gift the memorial to the Air Force. The past fifteen years has been a struggle to find out who is on first, what’s on second and no one knows “Where he hell third is” .
WAR IS NOT OUR FRIEND - The enormity, scope and losses of these two wars changed all that was MacDill. Two wars, a million men and women deployed, and fifteen years in duration radically changes ones thinking a lot. Not to mention the trillions spent on a process of nation building which has failed and which yielded us nothing. Now we have 7000 killed, 50,000 wounded and an unknown number suffering from PTSD, The Arab spring still looks like a long hard winter.
GOOD READS -
Thomas Edwin Ricks is an American journalist who writes on defense topics. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. I see many things in his writings about the upper echelon of our military, as his last three books encompass the entire Middle East conflict and a whole lot about the players.
It is excellent reading and an insight into the real stories behind the decisions and mistakes. Shadow Warrior by Felix Rodriguez and Wiser in Battle by LT. Gen Sanchez are also good reads putting you in the reality of what it means to be a decision maker. All are available through Amazon and you may learn a few things you were not privy to.
General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 Now updated to fully document the inside story of the Iraq war since late 2005, The Gamble is the definitive account of the insurgency within the U.S. military that led to a radical shift in America's strategy. Based on unprecedented real-time access to the military's entire chain of command, Ricks examines the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with itself, the surge was launched, and a very different war began. His stunning conclusion, stated in the last line of the book, is that "the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably have not yet happened."
The American Military Adventure in Iraq..Fiasco is a more strongly worded title than you might expect a seasoned military reporter such as Thomas E. Ricks to use, accustomed as he is to the even-handed style of daily newspaper journalism. He has written a thorough and devastating history of the war in Iraq from the planning stages through the continued insurgency in early 2006, and he does not shy away from naming those he finds responsible.
Making the Corps
The United States Marine Corps, with its proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth. Making the Corps visits the front lines of boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina.
Thomas E. Ricks has made a close study of America’s military leaders for three decades, and in TheGenerals, he chronicles the widening gulf between performance and accountability among the top brass of the U.S. military. While history has been kind to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—it has been less kind to others, such as Koster, Franks, Sanchez, and Petraeus. Ricks sets out to explain why that is.
A special thank you to our patrons and friends who realized we have had many pressing moments these past few years. You have supported the Memorial foundation with patience, friendship and loyalty. You have been the heroes. You have helped us through this long process. It has taken five times longer than expected, but we were diligent and pressed forth at every opportunity.
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For the past thirty plus years I have worked with some incredible, charitable, passionate “Gifters”. These are people who give from the heart working on projects involved with honoring our Armed Forces and the sacrifices they have made. The three of us, partners Ellie Scarfone and David Troup have stayed the course through literally mountains of red tape and finally there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Several Memorials we are associated with around the country have been built and established to honor the fallen and wounded all inspired and led under the mentorship of Richard Leandri.
Memorials were built at Ft. Benning, MacDill AFB, The City Park at Largo Florida, and these are reminders to those that freedom is not free, it’s a very costly sacrifice. Fifteen years we have supported this particular project and changes to our original plans had to be made.
Good news, sometime around this January a new Memorial for the fallen will be presented in the Florida City of Inverness. The city has graciously provided the resources for a new city park located strategically in a high traffic area where it will be seen and experienced by all.
It is close to the Florida National Cemetery located in Bushnell Florida, close to highways 41 and 44 near the government building in a park.
It is this close proximity to the cemetery and an incredible supportive community of military retirees and avid supporters of the military that this town is known for.
Note: The Florida National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery located near the city of Bushnell in Sumter County, Florida. Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 512.9 acres, and began interments in 1988.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.
A EULOGY IN BRONZE
Sunday, May 29, 2016 at 5:53 pm e
Even before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the plans for a memorial to honor U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) troops who died serving their country were in the works.
Ellie Scarfone and Al Jacobson, members of the U.S. Central Command Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit, private citizens organization, unveil a set of bronze statues they are presenting to the city of Inverness to use in a permanent display on the grounds of the Inverness Government Center.
Designed and funded by the nonprofit, private citizens organization U.S. Central Command Memorial Foundation, it was to be at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. They broke ground in 2003 and a set of bronze statues were commissioned and completed in 2005 — and then put in storage at a foundry in Colorado for 10 years.
Fast-forward 15 years and $1.2 million later and the memorial at MacDill is completed — but because of a number of reasons, including post-Sept. 11 security measures that restrict the public from easily entering the base, the project has been scrapped, as far as the foundation is concerned. So, what to do with the bronze statues? And what to do about the foundation’s desire to honor CENTCOM troops?
Enter the city of Inverness. “After 10 years in storage — No. 1, the foundry wanted the statues moved, and No. 2, we’ve been trying to find a place that would embrace them and want to do something with them,” said Ellie Scarfone, president of the U.S. Central Command Memorial Foundation.
“Last year, I approached Frank DiGiovanni and asked if he would like to use them in the community. He and his team have embraced it and came up with a concept that I think will be well-appreciated and well-seen — I’m thrilled.” Recently, Scarfone, fellow foundation board members David Troup and Al Jacobson and Inverness City Manager DiGiovanni met to unveil the statues and talk about their final destination on the grounds of the Inverness Government Center.
The statues, made by Colorado Springs-based sculptor Scott Stearman, depict two soldiers, modeled by actual soldiers from Fort Carson near Colorado Springs: Spc. Ontario Washington and Sgt. Amy Perkins. The sculpture of Washington shows him kneeling to remember his fallen brethren, his eyes downcast and his expression stoic but pained.
“His boots are worn, his CamelBak is empty, he’s holding his gloves in resolve,” Scarfone said. Perkins’ hand rests on Washington’s shoulder. In the process of modeling for the sculpture, Perkins, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, revealed that she had 7-year-old twin daughters and a fiancé who lost his life in the line of duty.
“In her helmet — troops typically put photos of their loved ones in their helmet, so we have pictures of her twin daughters and a picture of her fiancé, who had just been killed,” Scarfone said. The original concept was to have the two soldiers looking at a wall of names of those who had lost their lives in the Global War on Terror, but foundation members realized “the wall would never end.”
When the project began in 2001, the U.S. troops killed in the ongoing war numbered several hundred, Jacobson said. That number now nears 7,000, according to the Department of Defense; more than 52,000 troops have been wounded.
Instead, the figures are looking at a battlefield cross: the rifle, boots and helmet of a fallen brother or sister in arms arranged in a memorial to their life and service. “The fact that these statues are taken from real life — it’s a very powerful statement,” Jacobson said.
The city plans to mount the statues in the plaza outside the government center in downtown Inverness, atop a granite platform illuminated in relief by uplighting.
“I’m humbled, moved, blown away,” DiGiovanni said at the unveiling. “This is an incredible presentation of the effects of war, and these are lifelike, real-life people brought from the battlefield to Inverness in a memorialized manner. This is incredibly impressive.”
“I had originally thought it should go to Liberty Park because the 9/11 memorial is there and it’s a larger, more open space,” Scarfone said. “But with the proposed changes to the area, this makes much better sense. It’s going to be very pretty. … Sometimes it’s wonderful that things don’t go the way we plan them, because now we get to have them here.”
Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927, email@example.com or via Twitter at @nancykchronicle.
DISRESPECT IS NOT PRESIDENTIAL, WHAT OUR
The mash-up of symbols couldn’t have been more stark: a Muslim immigrant extolling the virtues of American liberty while holding his pocket copy of the Constitution, and his wife, struggling to contain her emotions, standing silently by his side, wearing a soft-blue hijab.
The moment at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night upstaged the debut speech by the first woman to be a major party’s nominee for president and confronted a vast television audience with a riveting and, for some, jarring blend of messages.
Here were the parents of a fallen US Army captain, still deep in mourning and palpably proud to be Americans; and here were Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, keenly aware of their uncomfortable place at the center of this year’s presidential campaign; and here was a pocket Constitution, in recent years a popular giveaway for conservative and evangelical groups; and here was a hijab, the Muslim head covering that has become a shorthand for the debate over Islam’s place in the Western world.
The overwhelming response to the appearance by Khizr and Ghazala Khan reflected the cultural and political divide that has dominated American discourse since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Many people took Khizr Khan’s lecture to Donald Trump about liberty and xenophobia as a statement about what patriotism and American identity really mean. Many others took the speech as a partisan blast (The Good Old Prejudice Boys) but nonetheless it was a powerful plea from parents mourning the death of an American soldier.
LATEST AND UNBELIEVABLY DESPICABLE
Without setting foot on a battlefield, Donald Trump said he received a Purple Heart medal on Tuesday at his rally in Ashburn, Virginia, from a retired lieutenant colonel and supporter. “I said to him, is that like the real one, or is that a copy?” moments after taking the stage at a local high school. Trump recounted the exchange, remarking that the man, who he identified as retired Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman said, "That's my real Purple Heart. I have such confidence in you."
"And I said, Man, that’s like big stuff. I always wanted to get the Purple Heart," Trump said. “This was much easier.”
Trump then invited Dorfman to appear onstage with him on camera, as the two posed for photographs and Trump flashed a thumbs-up before placing the Purple Heart back in his suit jacket pocket. Trump then told his audience that he had asked Dorfman to speak, but that the man had told him, "No, sir. I’d just like you to keep saying what you’ve been saying.”
Following Trump’s statement, NBC reporter Katy Tur tweeted that she had spoken with Dorfman and that he said the medal he gave to Trump was a copy of the one awarded to him. Dorfman was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in action in Iraq in 2007. Fake medal to a fake presidential Candidate....