Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Presents Flag to Fallen Bradenton Soldier’s Mother

Feb 8, 2021
Press Release

SARASOTA, Fla – Congressman Vern Buchanan today presented an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol to the mother of a fallen Bradenton soldier.

Buchanan hosted a private ceremony at his Sarasota district office for the family members of Army Specialist Nicholas Panipinto to commemorate his service. Panipinto died in a training accident at Camp Humphreys in South Korea in 2019 when the M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was driving overturned during a road-test.

“I’m honored to present Nick’s family with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol to commemorate their son’s service and sacrifice to our nation,” Buchanan said. “Specialist Panipinto will live on in our hearts as we continue to fight for military training reforms. I know how much these reforms mean to Nick’s family and I will work to ensure that no other family has to endure similar heartache.”

Panipinto’s mother, Kimberly Weaver, worked with Buchanan to push for military training reforms in Congress. Buchanan successfully amended the National Defense Authorization Act to require the Department of Defense (DOD)to examine emergency response capabilities and services currently available at U.S. military bases around the world.  The amendment, which became law, also requires the DOD to report to Congress on the potential benefits and feasibility of requiring bases to have properly functioning MedEvac helicopters and fully-stocked military ambulances. 

Weaver, thanked Buchanan for the flag saying, “The thought of the American flag proudly waving over the Capitol in honor of our Nicholas is deeply moving. Before he left for South Korea he had a big American flag tattooed across his shoulder. We are forever grateful to Congressman Buchanan for his hard work in Washington in honor of Nicholas, pushing for the protection of our country's guardians through military training reform.”

Deaths during training exercises have risen dramatically in recent years. In 2017 alone, nearly four times as many service members died in training accidents than were killed in action.

Buchanan, who represents more than 70,000 veterans in Southwest Florida, has a strong record of fighting for veterans and military families. Last year, Buchanan called on the House Armed Services Committee to hold a public hearing on military training accidents and said he will renew those efforts in the new Congress. In 2019, Buchanan co-sponsored legislation to expand health coverage to veterans exposed to the toxic chemical Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and has recently reintroduced introduced legislation that requires the VA to study the link between addictive opioids and the alarmingly high rate of suicides among veterans.