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Military commando exercise rocks downtown Tampa

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May 31, 2016

Tampa, FL -- Mayor Bob Buckhorn is no stranger to armed invasions. But in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, those definitely were not Gasparilla pirates, and those most certainly were not pirate ships.

Instead, the invasion was part of a far-more realistic military invasion exercise with the mayor playing the role of hostage.

The Special Ops rescue mission was staged right in the heart of Tampa, the home to SOCOM, Special Operations Command – located at MacDill Air Force Base.

“I’m appreciative of what they do, I'm thankful that they asked me to participate,” said Buckhorn, who was not only rescued, but was allowed to fire one of the huge gunboat machine guns. Blanks, thankfully.

“I'm a professional hostage. But more importantly, I just love being with them,” said Buckhorn.

The exercises involve military personnel from dozens of nations working together. The combined forces learning how to fight organize crime, terrorism, and nations which may pose a threat to the U.S. and its allies.

“It makes the American people feel a little safer, I hope,” said a member of the Navy Special Ops group.  “Showing them what our capabilities are.”

Although the demonstration was well-publicized, it’s possible not everyone downtown knew it was all just a drill.

Thousands of people lined bridges and rooftops watching a solid half-hour of gunfire, explosions, helicopters circling and snipers rappelling.