A Slice of Tampa Life: Tampa Mayor Rescued in Special Forces Operation

June 1, 2016

Sounds pretty scary, right?

Not to worry – it was just a drill.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was taken ‘hostage’ by an international coalition of Special Operations Forces professionals and then extracted in a tactical demonstration during last month’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC).
The hour-long scramble in the Hillsborough River saw troops dropped out of helicopters into the bay, climbing the side of the Yacht Starship for a firefight, and rappelling from the sides of the Tampa Convention Center; all topped off by locally stationed paratroopers jumping from a C-130 over downtown.

The show was all part of SOFIC, a biannual gathering in Tampa of Special Operations Forces personnel and vendors for members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Close to 12,000 attendees come to downtown Tampa to hear discussions on national security and to check out gear from 350 company booths selling freshly developed communications technology, optics, and firearms for use in the world’s most dangerous places.DSC_0041

Tampa has long been a hub for military and intelligence operations as the home of MacDill Air Force Base and the 6th Air Mobility Wing, host of the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command. The installation boasted an economic impact of $4.7 billion and created just shy of 25,000 jobs in 2014 in the Tampa Bay area, according to a report released by the base last year.

Those working on the base enjoy their location.

“I like living in Tampa,” said U.S. Army Specialist Ferguson while watching the demonstration. “I work a nine-to-five and get to do a lot of fishing.”

Mayor Buckhorn was safely returned to his family following the successful faux-rescue. He told the Tampa Bay Times last week, “I enjoy it thoroughly, plus I get 100 rounds on the .50-cal, which makes me really happy.”

Read more of the Times’ coverage of SOFIC here.