Tampa Bay awarded Abilene Trophy again
by Senior Airman Andrea Thacker
The Tampa Bay area can claim many firsts, and can add another now that it has become the only community twice awarded the prestigious Abilene Trophy.
For the second time in four years, the Air Mobility Command community support award was given to the Bay area for its service and support of MacDill. The trophy was presented at a ceremony at the University Club in downtown Tampa, July 16, before more than 100 community and military members.
Tampa received the award in 2001 and is the only community to receive it twice.
The Military Affairs Committee of Abilene, Texas, and AMC established the annual award in January 1999 to recognize a civilian community for outstanding support to a nearby AMC installation.
While the award was AMC's chance to say thanks to the Tampa area, community leaders took to opportunity to express how grateful it is to host MacDill.
"Aside from leading the war effort, MacDill has over 12,000 military and civilian personnel assigned here and significantly affects this community through its $6.7 billion contribution to our local economy," said John Ramil, Tampa Electric Company CEO.
"But the military's contributions to our area go beyond that. They and their families contribute to our quality of life through their volunteerism. From Little Leagues to PTA work, military families are involved members of our community. Indeed, MacDill Air Force Base is a jewel and an integral part of our community."
Mr. Ramil went on to say the greater Tampa Bay community was honored to be able to give MacDill its support as the base supports our country.
Dr. Jim Webster, a volunteer member of the Executive Committee of the Military Affairs Council of the Abilene, Texas Chamber of Commerce, and Grey Bridwell, a member of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, presented the award to the Tampa community represented by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, and members of Tampa, Brandon and South Tampa chambers of commerce.
"The support MacDill receives from the entire Tampa Bay community is nothing short of phenomenal," said Col Brian Kelley, 6th Operations Group commander. "This community truly cares about the people of MacDill. I have been stationed at 12 bases, and visited many more-I have never seen support that is anything close to this. Tampa Bay should have won it at least three years in a row! I would guess the Abilene Chamber felt it needed to spread the wealth by letting someone else win last year."
Every year, the chamber of commerce of a city near an AMC base, with the help of the base, may arrange a package to present to the Abilene Military Affairs Committee. Judging is done by a selection committee of the Abilene Military Affairs Council, with final approval by AMC.