TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Walter Lamerton as the 32nd Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Buffalo Sabres. Lamerton, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the USO of Tampa Bay (www.usotampabay.org).
Lamerton established a welcoming center at Tampa International Airport for United States military members returning from battle overseas. He got the idea after crossing paths one day with a 23-year-old soldier, returning from Afghanistan, sleeping on the floor at the airport. A retired Air Force jet engine mechanic, Lamerton discovered that more than 300,000 military personnel transit the airport annually. He decided to rent a space at the airport that would allow troops and their families to gather to enjoy entertainment.
In two years, Lamerton secured enough funding and more than 550 volunteers and formed a USO Board of Directors, Advisory Board and committees. The USO recognizes the sacrifices the troops and their families make for this country, and make it their mission to make sure they are remembered and supported.