Vin's People: Police official recalls euphoric reaction at FBI Academy

September 13, 2013 

Bradenton Deputy Chief of Police Warren Merriman told a fascinating anecdote at Wednesday's Tribute to Heroes Memorial Service.

A couple of years ago he was among 250 law enforcement personnel for 10 weeks of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., and joined others on a tour of Ground Zero and the new One World Trade Center under construction.

"On the drive back we talked about whether they'd ever catch Osama bin Laden," Merriman said.

It was May 1, 2011.

Upon returning to the FBI Academy that Sunday night, they had their answer.

"We walked into the common area where the TVs are located and it was crowded," Merriman said. "Everyone had heard the speculation that bin Laden had been captured. Then the president came on and said bin Laden had been killed. There was cheering. There was crying. The emotion just overtook everybody."

The next morning Merriman noticed the large photo of bin Laden on the FBI's Most Wanted List.

"Across his forehead in red font, bold lettering was one word," he said. "DECEASED."

• That wily ol' stork made its first arrival Sept. 3 for Donny and Jackie Freeman, who named the boy, Easton Daniel. The ecstatic grands are Dee Freeman and Mark and Jody Simpson.

• Remember FELT's second annual Golf Classic to help feed empty little tummies of our homeless school children is Sept. 23 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. Registration is 7:30 a.m. Call Jane Evers at 941-747-8804. Or e-mail

• Good to hear the indefatigable Jeanne Parrish is on the mend. The beloved 94-years-young former teacher fell recently, fractured a pelvic bone and was hospitalized at Blake Medical Center. She's rehabbing at Freedom Village.

• That's 30 years of wedded bliss for Mike and Janet Smith, sweethearts since those halcyon days in Middletown, Ohio.

• Robert Boone expects to climb back in the saddle in a few days. The Manatee High German and English teacher has been battling a staph infection since August, but anticipates being back in the classroom Tuesday.

• Bob Forney is 90 years young.

• Manatee High

School's Mr. Sugar 'Cane Dance Clinic is 9 a.m. Sept 21 at the MHS gym for third- to eighth-graders. The Mr. Sugar 'Cane Show is 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8. Call Mary Galati at 941-920-2433.

• After wrapping up a two-year stint as a University of South Florida relief pitcher, Steven Leasure is trying to put his USF marketing degree to work in Tampa.

His combined record with the Bulls was 5-1 with seven saves and a 2.24 ERA over 40.1 innings.

• David and Mary Ann Hardy, members of Southeast High's first graduating class in 1963, are wed 50 years as of Saturday.

• Tommy Durante graduated from the Chicago School for Piano Technology and is a certified piano technician. He'll return for advanced training and is aiming for acceptance into Florida State's masters program in 2014.

Vin's People, is by local columnist Vin Mannix. He can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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