TAMPA (WFLA) – On a Friday night as a plane landed at Tampa International Airport, an announcement was made to passengers.
“They said, ‘Everybody, everybody please be seated, we’ve got a special guest on board and we want to get him off first,'” said Lt. Travis Maus with the Tampa Police Department who thought they must be talking about another passenger.
He was just returning from serving a year in Iraq as a helicopter pilot in the US Army Reserve.
“It was great, once we got off the tram and then I saw my wife, that’s when I was like, I’m finally home,” said Maus.
The experience was made even a little more surreal for the Army and Police veteran because Pirates from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla were also waiting for him to name him as this year’s Gasparilla Community Hero.
Maus has spent 20 years serving as a Tampa Police officer. In the U.S. Army Reserve he serves as Chief Warrant Officer and trains others to fly Blackhawk helicopters.
His unit was called up for a one year deployment. During that time, Maus flew in one of the most dangerous areas of the world.
“Mission requests come in for people who need to get moved all over the battle space and what happens is, it’s safer to move people via helicopter,’ said Maus.
For him, danger is part of the job as an Army helicopter pilot and as a Tampa Police officer.
“I think almost 20 years being a police officer has helped tremendously because there is always danger present,” said Maus.
While in Iraq, he was surprised with a FaceTime call from Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.
Dugan wanted to let Maus know face to face that he had earned the rank of Lieutenant before he was deployed.
When Maus returned to Tampa International the Chief was there to hand Maus his new rank in person.
“You keep the streets of Tampa safe, you’ve earned this promotion. Jessica you’ve earned it too,” said Dugan.
Jessica is Travis Maus’s wife and raised their three young daughters on her own for a year while her husband was serving our country.
Jessica Maus says she did her best to keep the children occupied while their father was in Iraq.
“They never cried one time, the entire deployment or said why does my dad have to go, someone’s dad at school doesn’t have to be there. They were really grateful for him and had great attitudes,” said Jessica Maus.
This year, Travis and Jessica Maus will lead the Gasparilla parade. It will be a different experience for a Tampa Police officer who’s worked the event for many years.
“Gasparilla is an amazing event. As a police officer in the city of Tampa, we typically have to work it, so to be there and to enjoy it, from that aspect, I’m so excited. I can’t hardly wait,” said Travis Maus.
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