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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sonny Fortunato Gives Special Flag to the TIMES

By Sid Riley

Just home from service in Afghanistan, Sonny was thoughtful enough to bring a special gift to our newspaper.
Remember Sonny Fortunato? He was one of the candidates who ran for the job of Jackson County Sheriff in 2008. Sonny ran a hard fought campaign, but was beaten out in the primary election which eventually led to the November election of Lou Roberts. Sonny has a strong police background, including working with a major SWAT unit in Miami.
After losing in his effort to become the High Sheriff of Jackson County, Sonny went to work for FEMA in Texas. That work led him to employment with a specialized police training company which is involved in providing classified services to the US Army in Afghanistan. This work involves training a special Army unit in the well established police skills of investigation, crime scene assessments, and gathering of evidence. His unit was called an FFT unit which stands for “Focused Targeting Force”. Sonny was sent to the front combat areas in Afghanistan to provide classroom and “hands-on” training in these skills to a special group of soldiers.
Sonny was to be in Afghanistan from October of 2009 until the end of April, 2010. He worked mostly around Camp Salerno, in the Khowst Providence near the eastern border with Pakistan. It was a combat area.
Essentially their role was to identify suspected insurgents within the civilian population, to execute an arrest in concert with the Afghanistan police, and to then conduct a good investigation of the areas involved to gather information which could be used to prosecute the individuals involved. This also led to interrogation procedures which often led to other arrests and investigations.
When these investigations disclosed information relative to significantly important targets, the unit coordinated with other attack units to help target, execute, and assess the results of attacks. Sonny was thus involved in some high level, top secret activities with the U.S. Army.
In April Fortunato suffered a non-combat groin injury and was sent home for treatment. He is currently undergoing medical evaluations to determine if surgery will be required.
On his second day home Sonny came by the TIMES office to deliver a special gift he had brought to us from Afghanistan. He delivered a flag which had flown over Camp Salerno in Afghanistan on Easter Sunday, April 4. We will cherish this gift, and will prepare a special case for proper display of this emblem of our nation.
We thank you Sonny….for your gift, and most importantly for your service to our nation.

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