Everest Expedition Leader Meets Mountain Defenders

American300 Public Affairs - 1/30/15
Colorado Springs, Colorado -   

This weekend while millions watch the NFL’s 49th Super Bowl, Chris Klinke, a man who has stood on the summit of the world’d tallest mountain on numerous occasions will be inside one.   

Situated hundreds of feet above the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station is home to one of the most comprehensive command and control centers in the world.  The facility which can withstand direct nuclear strikes is home to the U.S. Air Force 21st Space Wing’s 721st Mission Support Group.  

With an operational calendar which is never ending, Airmen operators and defenders are inside the mountain working under the glow of artificial light 24 hours a day 365 days out of the year... including Super Bowl Sunday’s. 

For climbing guide Chris Klinke, achieving success on top of mountains boils down to three key factors: 1 percent physical, 9 percent luck and 90% mental

“We work to bring guest mentors to bases around the world that Service Members can relate to,” says Robi Powers, founder of the all volunteer nonprofit American300 Tours, adding, “Chris has stood on top of the world’s tallest peaks and done so most often as a leader rather then follower.  His dedication to duty in the mountains is in line with that of our defenders and operators inside the mountain and serving our military around the world.” 

While this will be Klinke’s first visit to Cheyenne Mountain, it’s not his first American300 Tour.  “My experiences with visiting the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center last year gave me a heightened awareness and appreciation for the sacrifices our military makes for us everyday,” says Klinke, who adds, “One night I was sitting around a squad’s campfire surrounded by snow caves and we delved into a discussion about the friends we’ve all lost. The similarities between the Marine Snipers and the mountaineering community are extraordinary in size and scope of people involved.  The difference being that the sacrifices made in the military far outweigh any in the civilian world.” 

Bringing together individuals with amazing backgrounds and allowing them to connect on a personal level is the bedrock of American300 programming.   In the case of Chris Klinke, there will be the opportunity for Airmen to not only catch a glimpse of what it’s like to operate on the highest slopes of the planet, but to gather valuable life lessons on strategic and tactical decission making.  “ 99% of the accidents that happen in the mountains can be linked back to one or two bad leadership decisions,” says Klinke, “but recognizing and respecting the processes goes a long ways towards making better choices in the mountains and in life.” he added.

For more information about American300 Never Quit Tours visit: www.American300.org

American300 is a all volunteer nonprofit dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Defense's Comprehensive Service Member Fitness Programs.   No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied - American300.org 

Wounded Marine… follow your dreams and be normal

American300 Public Affairs - 1/25/15
Cavalier Air Force Station, North Dakota -  American300 returns to this remote outpost near the Canadian border this week with special guest Sal Gonzalez, USMC Wounded Warrior.  

With less then four months of deployment behind him, Lance Corporal Sal 'Gonzo' Gonzalez,  from East Los Angeles, California, had seen his share of combat.   His team had been hit six times by everything from rocks to rockets.  For most seven is a lucky number for Gonzo and his teammates a seventh attack by insurgents on the streets of Ramajdi Iraq was a disaster.  When the explosion's concussion dissipated, the young Marines Lieutenant was dead and Gonzo's left leg from the knee down was ruined. 

After being dusted off and flown to the states the long road to recovery began for Gonzo and his family.   While there was no saving his left leg music ended up helping save his soul. 


"Having music as a tool for my recovery, I was able to put down and let go of a lot of pain," he said. "It kept me going. It's life. It's who I am … I want to show other warriors that it's possible to follow your dreams and be normal." 

Gonzalez will be joined by Robi Powers, host of American300's Service with Honor Never Quit Series as the two share stories of resiliency and perseverance with members of Cavalier Air Force Station and Grand Forks Air Force Base this week.   


For more on American300 Tours visit:  www.American300.org 


For more on Sal Gonzalez visit:  www.salnation.com 


American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit which supports the Department of Defense.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org 

STARS and SCARS… American300 Mentor Shares with Wounded Warriors

Steamboat Springs, Colorado -   When Jen Housholder was a little girl, bad things happened to her.  Over time she found herself finding ways to make the bad memories fade away.  Like so many of today's Armed Forces Members, life as a kid wasn't a bed of roses.  In many ways appointment to Lieutenant in the United States Air Force was one of her first major tickets to freedom. 

Years later after choosing to transfer into the Army, when she failed to meet the height requirement for young Lieutenants to fly for the Air Force… Jen Housholder found herself flying combat missions in a UH-60 Blackhawk over the roof tops of Iraq villages. 


War has a way of bringing out the best and worst in all of us.

The demons from the past started to creep back into her dreams and daily thoughts and by the time she redeployed to the middle east a second time… the demons were running the 'hous'.  After her final deployment she sought help and today is a certified US Air Force Master Resiliency Trainer and full time test engineer at Edwards Air Force Base.  

Teaching military members how to cope so that they will one day be able to once again hope for a better day is something that Jen Housholder has made part of her life's mission. 

American300 and Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports have once again partnered up to place this full-time warrior and part-time musician with 23 wounded warriors here in Steamboat Springs for the STARS and Stripes Heroes Camp.  "This is blast, I've got a snowboard instructor that is teaching me how to ride and I'm hanging with all these fellow warriors," said CWO2 Housholder today between runs on the headwall at Steamboat Ski Resort, adding " tonight we're all headed down to the VFW where I'll give a talk and then end the night playing and singing."  

Craig Kennedy, Director of Wounded Warrior Programming for STARS noted that between this January Camp and the up coming February STARS and Stripes Heroes Camp, there will be over 45 wounded warrior participants with American300 mentors embedded in each camp.  "Brown bag talking is way more effective then lectern hall stuff… all of us have had plenty of briefings over the years. What makes STARS camps so effective is the living breathing experiential learning that takes place." says Robi Powers, founder of American300 who partnered with Julie Taulman and the STARS program several years ago to provide the local Wounded Warrior focused camps with mentors, he adds "there's no better classroom then the great outdoors and STARS knows outdoor mentoring…  while we have a lot of experience with military mentoring, it's a perfect team approach." 

For more information about American300 programming visit:  www.American300.org

For information on STARS visit:  www.steamboatstars.com 

airplanes 

Vietnam P.O.W. Spends Week with Alaskan Lifesavers

Coast Guard Station Ketchikan, AK -   Lieutenant Ed Mechenbier had done everything he could to save his aircraft and the lives in it, but on the third “we’re not going to make it...”  call from his backseat weapons officer, he made the decision to eject.

There was no need to say it twice.

Less then two seconds after his parachute deployed, the fighter pilot watched as his F4 Phantom slammed into North Vietnam. 

American300 guests and Ketchikan Coast Guardsmen are reunited for the third time in less then a year as the American300 Tours: ‘Service with Honor - Never Quit Series’ places now retired United States Air Force Major General Edward Mechenbier with the lifesavers here. 

“There is very little you can say to a young Coastie, who has been waiting three plus years to get a school house slot for a rating... that they’re really going to listen to,” says former Army Sergeant Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit American300, adding, “ but put a guy who went through six years of hell as a prisoner of war, who then came home to eventually become a two star General with them and suddenly young Service Members are getting a world class encounter that mirrors their leaderships preachings on perseverance.” 

Making the visit to this small fishing village for the third time in less then a year is purely by design. The nonprofit believes in growth through a strategic nurturing approach.  “ Not everyone is going to relate to every guest mentor we introduce to a unit,” says retired Army wounded warrior Major Jessie Stewart, who sits on the non-profit's board of directors, adding,  “When I came back from my last deployment I didn’t want to be around folks who couldn’t relate, who hadn’t been there, I can relate completely to how our programming is received by Service Members... I was one of them once, I met Robi and American300 the first time in the middle east and the effect was overwhelmingly positive.

Focused on sharing amazing resiliency stories time and time again with the hopes that eventually every service member meets someone who ‘registers’ and can be 'related to' is one of the primary missions of American300 Tours.  The other is to give Service Members an opportunity to spend quality time with the various guest mentors.  “We work with leadership that allow us to embed our guests, slow things down and develop lasting impressions with their warriors,” says Powers.  

American300 is an all volunteer nonprofit which enlists the assistance of resiliency experts to help today’s military members be the best that they can be in service, relationships and friendships.  To date the nonprofit has visited over 400 bases worldwide in support of a comprehensive approach by the Department of Defense to offer up unique ways of approaching service life.  Previous visits to Ketchikan have featured world champion athletes and the first amputee to summit Mount Everest. 

For more on American300 visit: www.American300.org 

For more on the United States Coast Guard visit:  www.uscg.mil 


American300 Tours are volunteer based.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org Public Affairs. 

The Colonels Kick Off 2015 Service with Honor Tours

Colonels Tim Howard and John Bates - USMC retired
American300 Public Affairs 1/5/15Joint Base Pearl Harbor -  American300 returns to the island with two amazing life stories worth sharing.  The 'Colonels' features Tim Howard and John Bates, both retired 06's who received more then their share of physical punishment during their careers in the United States Marine Corps.   If you ask either of them about their injuries they'll knock off a list of missing and messed up body parts with the same casual tempo associated with going through a grocery list.  But, ask them about what their Marines Corps careers have meant to them… and the list gets longer, the answers get deeper. Ask them about what their wives mean to them and the true heroes in each mans life get talked about. American300's 'Service with Honor' series has been connecting amazing Veterans with today's Service Members for eight years now.  Both Colonels have traveled to bases around the world with the nonprofit in the past.  In an effort to provide a glimpse into the stories that each posses we provide a snap shot from two great stories written about them here: Excerpts from article by Sergeant Sharon G. Angell, Camp Lejeune News - on Tim Howard:  Before he knew it, his bird was hit by anti-aircraft fire originating from a nearby mental hospital, according to an article from All Hands magazine from May 1984.Howard's Cobra had been hit several times, including three shots that injured him. The first shot hit him in the right arm tearing it off from the just below the elbow and down.   The second shot hit him in the right leg, seriously impairing his knee. After a final shot hit the aircraft, a golf-ball size piece of the aircraft became imbedded in his neck.  
Howard said they were forced to land in a field near St. George's beach. During the forced landing, Howard called for his co-pilot to lower the bird, but realized Seagle had been knocked unconscious from rounds impacting the helicopter.   "He must have hit his head when we got hit, because I tried yelling his name, but he wouldn't come to. I knew I had to do something, so I tried everything I could to land safely," said Howard. Read the full story here:  Urgent Fury Remembered Excerpts on Colonel John Bates, USMC 3x Purple Heart Recipient: After surviving machine-gun fire to the chest in Vietnam, Colonel Bates recounts the sensation, "It's like standing over home plate having Mark McGwire wind up and try to hit you out of the ballpark."  After sneaking out of the hospital and returning to his forward deployed unit: "Everyone was glad to see me, they needed more trigger pullers." On Bates second purple heart, which resulted from shrapnel blowing into his legs, "If you've ever been hung up in barbed wire, that's what it's like.  Except it's hot, very, very hot and you can't get it out."   His third purple heart: "We got into a direct action and I needed cover and concealment so I jumped into a depression which ended up being a tiger pit.  Thankfully I jumped in feet first, cause when I landed I was up to my chest in sharpened manure coated stakes… one of which had gone clear through my left foot."  After getting medically retired Bates realized he didn't want to leave the Corps and over the span of seven years obtained several college degrees and improved his physical stamina to the point where he was allowed back in via Officer Candidates School…. he retired with 33 plus years of service as a Colonel. Read a full story here:  Sea of Inspiration Follow the 'Service with Honor - The Colonels' American300 Tour at: American300 Tours American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit.  No federal endorsement is implied or intended - American300.org 

Coasties Recognized at Wrangler National Finals Rodeo


By American300 Public Affairs - 12/15/14
Las Vegas Nevada - For the 5th straight year military service members were showcased during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo here in the city of lights. 

Working in concert with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Wrangler Corporation, American300.org brought United States Coast Guard rescue pilots: Captain Richard Hahn and Lieutenant Chad Eckhardt along with rescue swimmer Petty Officer (AST3) Brian Notheis to Las Vegas.

"We've been doing this for 5 years now and the result is always the same," said Jeff Chadwick, director of events for Wrangler, adding, "we meet these guys during our annual Memorial Day Tour and work with American300 to obtain clearances to showcase them during the WranglerNFR in December, it's a fantastic way of connecting the two events."


With 5 Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tours and 5 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Military Reunions in the history books the question is where will the tours and reunions head next year. "We've been approved to take the world champion cowboys and cowgirls, Kaycee Feild, Maegan Ridley and Annie Bianco Ellett along with Nashville artist Lucas Hoge,  to undisclosed areas of operations in 2015," says Robi Powers, founder of American300 Tours, "so I don't see why we'll stop bringing a few service members back to the finals to have their branch recognized in front of tens of thousands live and hundreds of thousands via CBS Sports Network and the Wrangler Network this coming year." he added. 

Focused on bringing resiliency minded guests to remote and isolated bases around the world has been American300's stock and trade, as the all volunteer nonprofit run by Veterans and Patriots plans out it's 2015 schedule of tours.  "Robi (Powers) is taking everyone from Astronauts and Wounded Warriors to Olympic Champions to bases all the time," says Kaycee Feild, a 4x World Champion bareback rider from Spanish Fork, Utah adding, "We get to be the lucky few to represent the western community each year during his Memorial Day Tour, it's one heck of an honor." 


From having to sign out original western wear to standing in on live TV shows this years special guests got to capture the real essence of professional rodeo. "This has been one of the greatest things I've ever done," said LT Chad Eckhardt, a Coast Guard rescue pilot stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, adds, " we get so busy with our missions out over the bering sea that we forget that Americans, not just the fishermen love what we do for them every day." 

For more information on American300 visit: www.American300.org

The nonprofit Facebook is located at:  American300 Tours 

For more on our United States Coast Guard visit:  www.uscg.mil 

American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org  Photos courtesy of Gretchen Powers, American300 Public Affairs.  


Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Robert Powers

Posted by LTJG Katie Braynard, Friday, December 12, 2014

Robert Powers, founder of the American 300 Foundation, was honored as the Coast Guard's 2014 Spirit of Hope recipient. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
Robert Powers, founder of the American 300 Foundation, was honored as the Coast Guard’s 2014 Spirit of Hope recipient. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
“Never quit.”
This one, powerful phrase has been carried throughout military bases since 2006 by American 300 Foundation creator, Robert Powers.
Powers began the foundation in 2006 as a way to help spread messages of resiliency to members of the Armed Forces. On his tours, he brings popular figures, extreme athletes, combat veterans and former Prisoners of War, who share their own experiences and challenges that they have overcome and listen to challenges members of the military may be facing.
For the past eight years, Powers has visited countless military bases from all five branches of the Armed Forces, many of which have seen combat or are located in geographically isolated areas.
On Memorial Day, Powers began a whirlwind tour of nine Coast Guard stations, to include Coast Guard Station Neah Bay, Washington, and units throughout Alaska.
Robert Powers was awarded the 2014 Spirit of Hope award for his selfless devotion to the troops of the Amerd Forces. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
Robert Powers was awarded the 2014 Spirit of Hope award for his selfless devotion to the troops of the Amerd Forces. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Edward J. Mechenbier, a 44-year service veteran who was shot down on his 80th mission over North Vietnam in June 1967 and spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war, joined Powers on a tour of west coast units, to include surf stations and air stations in the Pacific Northwest. While he shared his own stories, he also took away a better understanding of the Coast Guard men and women who stand the watch, each and every day.
“I came to a real appreciation that the Coast Guard does their mission everyday,” Mechenbier said. “You don’t get down days or reconstitution days, it’s all the job, everyday.”
Another tour recently wrapped up by Powers brought along Marine Corps Col. John Bates, a three-time Purple Heart recipient, when he visited Station Inigoes. The two spent half a day with an aids to navigation boat crew as they serviced various navigational beacons.
“That’s the way I want to have GMT’s on resiliency delivered,” said Powers.
And throughout his visits with the various units, Powers has learned just as much from Coast Guard men and women as they have from him.
“We’re having so much fun working with the Coast Guard, visiting the small boat stations, visiting the air stations, going to these crazy, remote locations that no one even knows exist, and seeing these young men and women, our United States Coast Guard, out there 24/7,” said Powers. “The thing that blows me away the most about the Coast Guard is that we have E-4s and E-5s out there doing more collateral work than any other service.”
Powers said that how that fact doesn’t become collateral damage, he didn’t quite understand at first.
“When you get on station and you see the camaraderie, you see the esprit de corps, you see the one team approach, it speaks for itself,” he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard's Spirit of Hope recipient, Robert Powers, is honored by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Spirit of Hope recipient, Robert Powers, is honored by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
For his service to members of the Armed Forces, Powers was honored by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft as the U.S. Coast Guard’s Spirit of Hope award recipient. The Spirit of Hope award honors those individuals whose selfless devotion and patriotism reflect that of the late Bob Hope. Each branch of the Armed Forces nominates and honors a group or individual who epitomizes the values of Hope: duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity and selfless dedication.
“When the admiral called me this summer to say that I had been chosen to represent the Coast Guard and received the Spirit of Bob Hope award, it blew me away,” Powers said.
At that point, Powers had visited just nine Coast Guard units on his tours, but had visited nearly 400 bases from the other services since beginning the foundation.
“It’s one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had bestowed upon me in my entire life,” Powers said.
- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2014/12/honor-respect-devotion-to-duty-robert-powers/#sthash.fRF4Hrjq.dpuf

Astronauts Blast Off to Middle East

By American300 Public Affairs - Mike Lane 

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO & HOUSTON, TX–November 28, 2014–NASA Astronauts, Dr. Steve Swanson and Colonel Mike Hopkins (USAF), will visit members of the US Armed Forces during the Department of Defense’s Armed Forces Entertainment American Astronaut Tour to undisclosed bases across the Middle East. 

“As these Astronauts will tell you, there is an enormous sense of pride representing your country and relying on so many members of the Armed Service to keep you safe during your missions,” said Daniel Cook of Armed Forces Entertainment. “That same sense of pride is what drives the troops of the United States daily and to bring these two teams together will be a real treat.”

With stops at undisclosed bases across the Middle East, NASA Astronauts Swanson and Hopkins along with American300 founder Robi Powers are expected to deploy before the New Year and troops can expect personal interaction with the astronauts as well as ask questions about their missions and experiences in space and on Earth.

“It’s a mission concept we’ve been implementing for years now, putting amazing mentors like Swanny and Hopper with units in isolated and remote locations,” says Powers who along with Mike Lane and a team of volunteers conduct dozens of these tours per year. 

Steve Swanson recently returned from the International Space Station during Expedition 39/40, where he served as commander. During his third trip in space, Swanson flew for 169 days, orbiting the Earth 2,704 times at an altitude of 250 statute miles and traveling more than 71 million miles at 17,500 mph. Swanson lit up social media with the first selfie in space when he snapped his image in the ISS copula upon arrival during Expedition 39 in March 2014. In addition, he has completed four spacewalks totaling 26 hours, 22 minutes and accumulated 195 days, 15 hours, 41 minutes in space during his career.

“Having spent six months in space, I know the impact visitors can have on your attitude, outlook and health; having only received three new individuals while on station,” said Swanson. “I’m psyched to be able visit with so many folks’ sons and daughters during this tour. In fact, my son is currently deployed to Korea and I know someone is looking out for him just as I will be doing for your families.”

Col. Mike Hopkins was selected to the 20th NASA astronaut class in July 2009. On September 25, 2013, Hopkins launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan headed to the ISS as part of Expedition 37/38. During his stay aboard station, Hopkins conducted a pair of U.S. spacewalks for a total of 12 hours and 58 minutes.  He returned to Earth on March 10, 2014 after 166 days in space. During the expedition, the crew completed 2,656 orbits of the Earth and traveled more than 70 million miles.

“As an active duty Air Force Astronaut for the past five years, I’ve been a little out of touch with my fellow Airmen,” commented Hopkins. “These tours have given me an opportunity to reconnect, share my story and incredible experience of flying in space while also hearing about the amazing job service personnel are doing around the world.” 

For more information on these organizations, visit Armed Forces Entertainment, www.armedforcesentertainment; NASA, www.nasa.gov and American300, www.American300.org
# # #
Armed Forces Entertainment is the lead Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. 


Headquartered in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, American300 is a nonprofit 501c3 non-government/all volunteer organization.  No federal endorsement of the nonprofit or sponsors is ever intended or implied - American300.org

Manic in the Mountain - Athletes and Coaches Focus on Defenders

Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station-  While military bases around the world celebrate Thanksgiving Day with everything from food service teams cooking up amazing meals to morale and recreation teams offering up turkey trots... a group of athletes and coaches turned the focus on a group of defenders and operators inside a mountain.  

The defenders and operators of the USAF 721st MSG are no strangers to visitors.  Cheyenne Mountain's tunnels are walked by hundreds of distinguished visitors each year. For those not authorized to go inside the fortress, group photos are taken just outside the main entrance… as the camera lens snap photos and guides host walking tours… US and Canadian Airmen, Army Soldiers, Navy Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen look on.   

On this Thanksgiving, American300 revisited the mountain with Olympian and XGames wunderkind Erin Simmons Nemec and Manic Training coaches: Graham Muir, Dave Barnes and Pete Beuth.  The goal being to focus attention on the defenders and operators… let them know just how special they are and offer them a taste of what it's like to train the way elite Olympic athletes do. 

This was the second installment of an on going commitment by American300 to support those who support so much activity around this facility.  "These Service Members and civilian support staff members receive so many visitors who are coming to the mountain with a focus on finding out what goes on inside," says Robi Powers, the host and founder of American300 Tours, adding "our goal is to focus our special guest's attention on those who perform the mission… the mountain comes second." 

Sharing Olympic and XGames medals and tips on training and life was the theme of the day with more then one Airmen fired up to add functional fitness to their on going personal fitness programs.  "I've been running and working the weights for years, but the way the Manic coaches mix cardio with weights showed me just how far I need to go to be fit for life." said one Staff Sergeant who is responsible for defending the mountain. 

American300 will return to the mountain again in a month or so bringing another message of personal resiliency and Never Quitting. "We develop relationships with leaders like Colonel's John Shaw and Travis Harsha of the 21st Space Wing and 721st Mission Support Group and make a commitment to them to develop long term connectivity," says Powers, "there's enough grip and rip one hit wonder programming going on… our programming is about creating life time friendships backed by a theme of being the best we can all be in duty to our country, families and friends." he added. 

For more on American300 Tours visit:  www.American300.org

For photos from the 'Manic in the Mountain' Never Quit Tour go to: American300 Tours 

American300 Tours are a 501c3 all volunteer program designed to support the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces with unique resiliency tours.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org 

Olympic Gold Medalist Visits USCG Sector Delaware Bay - Philadelphia Teams

By Mike Lane - American300 Public Affairs 


Philadelphia, PA – 11/1/14 - For the past 5 years the nonprofit American300 has joined forces with the city of Philadelphia connecting service members stationed at the US Army Garrison Bavaria - Hohenfels, Germany, with the city of Brotherly and Sisterly Love during the Philadelphia Marathon race week.

A new chapter opens as American300 in partnership with the Honorable Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia and his office, focuses on the 750 service members assigned to protecting and serving the metropolitan area and it’s waterways this year. 

 “After 5 years of traveling to Germany to bring the Philadelphia Marathon to the troops, it’s going to be great to focus things a little closer to home,” said Robi Powers, founder of American300 and emcee of the Philadelphia Marathon along with Mayor Michael Nutter.  Powers adds, “I’m super excited to have a fellow American300 volunteer, joining me this year in connecting the event with service members.”  

Instead of traveling alone in the days leading up to the race weekend, Powers will have Olympic and World Champion Dan Beery, who resides in the Philadelphia area, joining him as part of the team.  Beery, who moved to Philadelphia immediately after college, spent years working with national team coach Ted Nash, in Philadelphian prior to making the Men’s Eight squad for the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games. It was during these games that Beery and his teammates set an Olympic record enroute to capturing the prized Men’s Eight Olympic gold medal.  

“I’ve traveled all over the world with American300, visiting men and women of our armed forces along with their families, but I’ve never spent time with the US Coast Guard,” says Beery, adding “These dedicated men and women are always on duty ready to respond at a moment’s notice, always willing to sacrifice their own lives so that others may live. It’s going to be a huge honor to share my Olympic experience and gold medal with these Guardians.” 

Hosted the third Sunday of November, the Philadelphia Marathon ranks in the top ten of the nation’s largest marathons with over 30,000 runners, 60,000 spectators and 3,000 volunteers. Race Weekend 2014 begins on Friday, November 21 and will culminate on Sunday, November 23. Race Weekend activities include the Health & Fitness Expo, Rothman Institute 8K, and Kids Fun Run—all leading up to the GORE-TEX® Marathon and Half Marathon races on Sunday.

For more information on the all-volunteer nonprofit efforts of American300 please visit: www.American300.org. The nonprofit has a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Service Members, Their Families and the areas in which they live and operate.  


For more on the Philadelphia Marathon visit:  www.philadelphiamarathon.com 

Vietnam P.O.W. - Major General Mechenbier Visits USCG D5

US Coast Guard District 5 -  American300 returned to the United States Coast Guard as ‘Service with Honor’ featuring Major General Edward Mechenbier, USAF retired visited USCG Small Boat Stations: Crisfield and Ocean City. 

Designed to allow guests the ability to share their personal life stories with Service Members in a relaxed ‘embedded’ style, the General spent 24 hours on deck with both stations located in remote eastern shore Maryland.  

“The focus of these tours is to allow connectivity, personal sharing of service stories and for our guests to interact with unit members in a 'part of the team' setting,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300 Tours, adding “It’s often times easier when I have a Olympic medalist then a decorated General, who happens to be a Vietnam P.O.W. as well, but the senior leadership involved with this tour ensured that the visit was focused on their teams which is the way the General likes it, despite the obvious military courtesy and respect that follows the General wherever he goes.” 

From Aids to Navigation Boats to Heavy Weather Surf Boats, General Mechenbier shared his personal story of resiliency and learned first hand the mission sets facing today's small boat stations. 


“We never went to a P.O.W. school house that taught us how to survive through years of solitary confinement and torture,” reflected the General in front of a group of Coast Guardsmen, “You all could survive the same abuse and years of confinement that I experienced... it all comes down to living for the man next to you. We closed ranks and took care of our own, created a bond that was unbreakable.” he added.   

Maj General Mechenbier will continue to visit United States Coast Guard Stations with his next American300 Service with Honor Tour scheduled for mid January when he visits Station Ketchikan, Alaska.

For more information on American300 visit:  www.American300.org

Service with Honor Tours are best followed on facebook at:  American300 Tours 


American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit dedicated to supporting the DoD and DoS with subject matter experts in resiliency.   No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied.   American300 works with Coast Guard MWR and USCG HQ to establish these tours.  Commanders requesting American300 Tours should contact USCG HQ PAO.

First disabled person to climb Everest, American300 Never Quit Series visit USCG Station Ketchikan

With the upcoming visit by American300's Tom Whittaker and Robi Powers to USCG Station Ketchikan we thought sharing this story written by Tech Sergeant Scott McNabb, 24th Air Force Public Affairs would give the mission parameters the best: 

12/21/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Anyone who wants to emulate the guest speaker from the American300 hosted Promise Tour, better understand the need to raise the bar for measuring success higher than most ever will.

Tom Whittaker, who lost his foot in a car accident in 1979, was not impressed when people in the hospital cheered for him when he put on his sock for the first time after the accident, he explained during a speech to more than 120 members of 24th Air Force at Arnold Hall here Dec. 19.

"You better set the bar a lot higher than that," he said raising his hand to neck level.

The Welsh-born mountaineer is not one to back down to challenges and became the first person with a disability to reach the top of Mount Everest on May 27, 1998. 

He visited members of 24th Air Force and others from around the base as the featured speaker of The Promise Tour - a program designed by Robi Powers, a U.S. Army veteran and former U.S. Olympic coach who saw a need for mentors to those in service now. 

Powers has gathered more than 50 volunteer mentors since 2009 and said the program only uses around 30 percent of those who apply. In 2012, American300 Tours mentors toured 25 stateside tours and five overseas.

Powers said he's delighted when people tell him the experience was uplifting or inspiring because that exactly what he's trying to accomplish.

"When we hear that a service member gets inspired by one of our guests, starts making positive choices in their life based on learning from one of our guests true life stories ... it's the ultimate payback," said Powers. "Our number one goal is to increase the resiliency of our service members. We do it through a simple mix of true life story telling, our guests are by their very presence in a room walking billboards for 'pre-exposure preparation training'"

Powers met Whittaker during the Olympics and years later called his friend to ask him to spread the word on resiliency by telling the story of his climbing feat.

Whittaker's first attempt to climb Everest was in 1989, but a storm that marked the end of climbing season hit and dropped 10 feet of snow on Whittaker and his climbing partner. They were forced to turn back. He tried again in 1995 and had to turn back just over 2,000 feet short of the 29,029-foot summit, when he ran out of oxygen because the expedition guides decided he would never make it and didn't carry his tanks ahead of the team as they did for the others.

In 1981, when taking someone with a disability to a park or beach was considered an adventure, Whittaker founded the Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group (C.W.HOG) in Pocatello, Idaho. He broke down barriers with the belief that everyone should be eagles and not vultures.

During his speech, the eagle vs. vulture analogy resonated when he compared both birds to humans who either take what's lying in front of them and call that life or those individuals who soar, reach out and grab what they want in life and make it theirs. 

"It is your lives; it's your example that gives other people the chance to be as good as you are," said Whittaker. "And they don't follow vultures, ladies and gentlemen ... they don't. The hard way to earn your living is as an eagle and you earn it every day of your life. And it's not when you put the uniform on. It's not when you get out of bed. Its 24 hours a day every day of your life. You will drop the vase and you can't pick the pieces up, but you can learn from it and move on."

Whittaker had a dream job as a ski instructor in Idaho before the accident. He awoke to a different life, but his steadfast belief in himself and the help from the small town of Pocatello, Idaho were catalysts for success in a world of disbelievers. In a world of vultures.

Powers chimed into the speech for a moment and painted the picture of how handicapped were treated with kid gloves during the late 70s and through most of the 80s. He said the idea of taking an amputee to a park was dicey. He said the idea of someone missing a knee cap and a foot saying he was going to get to the top of Mount Everest was not taken seriously by most.

Whittaker said if he'd hired a few able-bodied climbers to haul him to the top, he would have been able to call himself the first disabled person to make it to the top, but no one in the world of climbing would have respected or endorsed that kind of ascent. He had to do it on his own one foot.

A friend of his who was a U.S. Marine helped him along. He pushed Whittaker to reach his lofty goals while he was bound to a wheelchair until the climber could walk again.

Whittaker started climbing again. He set goals and beat them. His HOGs, his daughter and a team of friends from the climbing elite were at the base camp of Everest when he went after the mountain again and accomplished his goal.

Capt. Michael Forostoski, a 24th Air Force operations planner, said both Whittaker and Powers were inspiring and reinforced a lot of great concepts while keeping the audience interested the entire time. 

"I really enjoyed hearing about Whittaker's life journey and how his spirit ultimately pulled him through every obstacle he faced including the accident, being homeless, and discrimination to eventually go on to have a conversation, and kiss the ring of, the Queen of England," he said.

Staff Sgt. Lance Mayfield, a 24th Air Force communications non-commissioned officer, said that Mr. Whittaker told him everyone makes mistakes in life and the woman that hit him lit a fire under him and set him on a path that allowed him to impact so many people.

Mayfield said that to him, being an eagle means, "Being able to look back at my life and say, 'I can't believe I did all that, let's do it again.' Looking back at my children and knowing that I showed them how to fly and hunt so that when they're ready to leave the proverbial nest they are ready to capture their dreams. My children are definitely who I am the eagle for."

Staff Sgt. Tamisha Rutledge, a member of the 624th Operations Center, had a slightly different, but equally positive definition of what being an eagle means to her.

"I try to be the eagle for myself first and foremost," she said. "I feel that if I'm a vulture then how can I possibly be the eagle for those entrusted to my charge or to those in leadership? If you are an eagle for yourself, then you can easily be an eagle for those you supervise, your peers, and your leadership."

American300 Tours is a 100% volunteer IRS 501c3 nonprofit which supports the Department of Defense and Department of State with unique mentor guest visits.  No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is intended or implied - American300.org 


Three Time Purple Heart Recipient Visits Coast Guardsmen

American300 Public Affairs - 10/20/14

American300 Service with Honor brings three time purple heart recipient to U.S. Coast Guard District 5 Stations this week and next. 

When John Bates was awarded his third purple heart for combat actions in Vietnam it earned him a flight back to the States and a ticket out of the United States Marine Corps.  The only problem was the young Sergeant didn’t want either.

Having survived machine gun fire to the chest, the searing heat of fragmentation in his legs from a grenade and being skewered by a 3 foot tall punji stake, war had left it's marks on the Marine inside and out. The wounds, experienced over the span of nearly a year in Vietnam’s jungles had taken their pound of flesh out of the Marine literally. 

What hadn’t been taken out of the Marine was the desire to stay in the Corps. When word came down from command that he would be medically retired the news came as a  fourth shock every bit as devastating as the three combat injuries. 

Facing the reality of being a Veteran years ahead of schedule, Bates decided to pickup where he’d left off in college prior to enlisting just a few years prior.  Over the span of half a decade, college credits eventually lead to several degrees. 

With bachelor and master degrees in hand and capable of running marathons and ultra -marathons, Bates started requesting permission to come out of retirement... to re-enter the active duty Marine Corps. 

After years of being told no, the Navy Medical Board finally signed off on his health records and gave the Marines the final say on allowing reinstatement. 

Marine Headquarters said yes, provided Bates could pass Officer Candidates School. 

The rest of the story is history.  Colonel John Bates Jr. USMC retired went on to serve in numerous command positions over the span of thirty-three plus years of service including two more combat tours in Kuwait and Iraq. 

Service with Honor is one of the many signature resiliency tours that all volunteer nonprofit American300 produces for the Department of Defense throughout the year.  

Follow this Service with Honor Tour at:  www.American300.org  and on facebook at ‘American300 Tours’ 

This tour is supported by USCG MWR and USCG HQ Public Affairs.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied - American300.org 


P.O.W. Visits California Coast Guard Units

US Coast Guard District 11 -  American300 returned to the San Francisco Bay area with another special guest as ‘Service with Honor’ featuring Major General Edward Mechenbier, USAF retired visited USCG Stations: Golden Gate, Bodega Bay, Air Station San Francisco and Coast Guard Island. 

Designed to allow guests the ability to share their personal life stories with Service Members in a relaxed ‘embedded’ style, the General moved around Coast Guard Stations guided by young Officers and Enlisted members.  

“The focus of these tours is to allow connectivity, personal sharing of service stories and for our guests to interact with unit members in as relaxed a setting as possible,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300 Tours, adding “It’s often times easier when I have a Olympic medalist then a decorated General, who happens to be a Vietnam P.O.W. as well, but the senior leadership involved with this tour ensured that the visit was low key and personal, despite the obvious military courtesy and respect that follows the General wherever he goes.” 

From Motor Life Boats and Surf Stations to Cutter Crews and UH-65 Helicopter Air Station Coast Guard duties, General Mechenbier shared his personal story of resiliency.  


“We never went to a P.O.W. school house that taught us how to survive through years of solitary confinement and torture,” reflected the General in front of a group of Coast Guardsmen, “You all could survive the same abuse and years of confinement that I experienced... it all comes down to living for the man next to you. We created a bond that was unbreakable.” he added. 
Maj General Mechenbier will continue to visit United States Coast Guard Stations with his next American300 Service with Honor Tour scheduled for mid November when he visits District 5 ( Washington, D.C. area ) units. 

For more information on American300 visit:  www.American300.org

Service with Honor Tours are best followed on facebook at:  American300 Tours 


American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit dedicated to supporting the DoD and DoS with subject matter experts in resiliency.   No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied.   American300 works with Coast Guard MWR and USCG HQ to establish these tours.  Commanders requesting American300 Tours should contact USCG HQ PAO.