TAMPA (FOX 13) - Helicopters swarmed over downtown Tampa, assault boats buzzed through Garrison Channel, and the sounds of gunfire echoed from Tampa General Hospital to the Convention Center. And at the end of it all was Mayor Bob Buckhorn, beaming.
The dramatic scene was all part of a U.S. Special Operations Command demonstration Wednesday in which a 'hostage' -- in this case, Mayor Buckhorn -- was rescued from bad guys who had holed up along the Riverwalk.
Thousands of spectators lined the waterfront to watch the spectacle, joining international participants from the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference taking place at the convention center this week.
Just before 1:30, the ambiguous bad guys took over the Starship dining yacht and captured the mayor. Moments later, boats and helicopters full of Special Operations teams roared in with simulated guns blazing.
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It didn't take long for the multi-national team to sweep the yacht and make their way ashore, where they rescued the mayor and sped off.
Buckhorn made a triumphant return aboard one of the rigid-hulled inflatable boats -- a giant grin on his face as he manned the .50-caliber machine gun that was spitting flames as it popped off round after round of blanks.
The mayor -- who also gets 'kidnapped' by pirates every Gasparilla season -- later joked about being a "professional hostage" but turned serious when praising the professionalism of SOCOM, which is based down the street at MacDill Air Force Base.
"You can never really appreciate what they do every night when they're deployed, doing the work we're incapable of doing for ourselves," he said, "and they're the best in the world."
Watch SkyFOX's view of the demonstration (mobile users click here):