Cowboy Kicks Off World Championships By Visiting Troops

Nellis Air Force Base -  After twelve years of competing in professional rodeo's world championships, Trevor Knowles would be right in his mind to step away from the injury prone sport of bulldogging and focus his energies entirely on running the family farm.  Instead, the hall of fame high school wrestling star will be entering the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the 13th time in the hopes that his steers run straight and his landings on top of them go in the right direction. 

Of all the professional rodeo sports, steer wrestling aka ‘bulldogging’ is one of the hardest on the body, not the steers, but the cowboys.  “Being raised on a farm and having a Vietnam veteran for a father definitely has made Trevor the man he is today,” says Jeff Chadwick, a director with Wrangler Corporation who recruited Trevor and many others to represent the companies ‘Wrangler National Patriot’ program years ago, he adds, “It wasn’t a hard sell, Trevor has been donating time and financial resources to local military charities ever since he started on his way to being a million dollar Cowboy."

As part of the Wrangler National Patriot program, professional cowboys, cowgirls and rodeo committees here at home are asked to volunteer time and energy to raise awareness and funds for our military charities.  

In 2009, Chadwick went one step farther by partnering with american300.org to connect his stable of professional athletes with our troops serving around the world.  Now 8 years later, Wrangler champions have shared their never quit winning attitudes and heart felt thanks with thousands of troops.  “Every year we take Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls out on the Department of Defense Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour,” says Army Veteran Robi Powers, founder of American300 “while the focus has always been on saluting the service and ultimate sacrifices, it’s also become a resiliency sharing experience as troops come to understand the true nature of what it means to be a professional cowboy.” he added. 

This week, Trevor Knowles joins the likes of World Champion Hall of Fame Cowboys: John W. Jones Jr. and Rob Smets along with Annie Bianco and many others in taking time out for our Troops.   Trevor along with Chadwick and Powers will be visiting Nellis Air Force to meet Airmen and share their thanks along with resilient life stories. 


For more on American300 Military Mentor Programming visit:  www.American300.org 

One Leg One Mountain - Everest

Tom Whittaker
US Armed Forces Bases Europe -  For most the thought of climbing the world’s tallest mountain is enough to give pause.  Not only is the task a super human endurance feat, but life threatening from the moment one arrives at base camp as was evident last year when nearly two dozen climbers died as an earthquake struck Nepal and ensuing avalanche slammed into the staging area.  

Over the next several weeks a group of renowned climbers will be traveling throughout: England, Kosovo and Germany sharing personal stories with US and Coalition Troops. The mission: showcase the possible in life - if we just don’t quit. 

Impossible was the term used to describe Tom Whittaker’s desire to climb Everest back in the 90’s, not because the mountain hadn’t been climbed or that he had chosen a unproven route, but because he was a one legged amputee. Up until his arrival at the summit of the world’s tallest peak, amputee’s and others with disabilities had been shunned from Everest and high altitude climbing altogether.  

Vasu Sojitra 
Today, Vasu Sojitra, plants both of his arm crutches outfitted with special crampons into the steep slope above him.  He lifts and hops upwards with his one leg to gain another 8-10 inches of elevation.  Half a day later, he stands on the summit of a rugged snow covered peak high in the Madison Range of Bozeman, Montana.  With a quick conversion he’s able to turn his outrigger crampon crutches into outrigger skis and together the two mini 'arm skis' combined with  one legged ski descend the 45 degree out of bounds mountain. Vasu, lost his right leg below the hip at age 9 the result of a rare disease. 

For US Army Staff Sergeant Benjamin Breckheimer, awakening from surgery to see that his right leg had been reattached was a bit of a shock.  Having spent the better part of his Army days in the medical community as a surgical assistant in Baghdad and beyond, he knew exactly how severely wounded he was after having switched military careers to Calvary Scout duties, the day that an IED exploded underneath him in Afghanistan,  

Staff Sergeant Benjiman Breckheimer - USA ret. 
Thanks to individuals like Tom and Vasu, Staff Sergeant Breckheimer, retired, is focused on climbing the world’s tallest mountains, fused right leg and all. “I went through some really really dark periods where I didn’t think I’d come out the other side,” says Breckheimer, who during his countless surgeries to repair his legs and other internals became deeply depressed and suicidal, he adds,“Then I see these guys doing all this amazing stuff with one leg and I look down to see both of mine still attached and working for the most part… there was no excuse, I just started dreaming about joining them in the mountains… it’s saved my life.” 

Delivering resilient messaging through unique mentors is the mission of all volunteer nonprofit American300 and they visit bases on a monthly basis all over the world.   Joining the three on this ‘Never Quit Series’ tour will be Everest expedition leader Chris Klinke and Everest expedition Physician Eric Meyer M.D. along with Gretchen Powers and her dad Robi Powers who founded the nonprofit effort back in 2006. 

“I’ve been to bases in Japan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa and all over America and everywhere we go with Armed Forces Entertainment and American300 the Troops are so stoked to talk about what it’s like to be on top of the world,” says Doctor Meyer, adding, “The irony is that I've stood on top of the world twice, and feel like I’m on top of the world every time I get to be around our Troops.” 

About American300 - visit www.American300.org   

About Armed Forces Entertainment
Armed Forces Entertainment is the official 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. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.





USA Diving Dives Into Service

Troy Dumais - USA Diving
Colorado Springs, CO - USA Diving is proud to announce DIVE INTO SERVICE.  This new service program bringing veterans, active-duty and USA Diving athletes together, will launch September 11th in Colorado Springs, Colorado during a visit with the Air Force’s 21st Space Wing located at Peterson Air Force Base.  USA Diving, in conjunction with American300 Tours, will be coordinating this year-round two-way exchange program for USA Diving athletes, veterans and military service members stationed around the world.

DIVE INTO SERVICE is a mentorship and relationship building program that partners military service members with USA Diving athletes to share like experiences as representatives of the United States.  The commitment, training, high-intensity and pressure driven nature of military service and top-level athletics has proven to be common ground for participants that provides a unique forum for communication and understanding
“We are excited to launch this new mentoring initiative which will educate our athletes while engaging and supporting our military service personnel stationed around the world” said Linda Paul, President and CEO of USA Diving.  

As participants in DIVE INTO SERVICE, USA Diving athletes will have the opportunity to
learn leadership and team-building skills through sessions run by military veterans sharing their personal experiences defending our nation.  USA Diving athletes will in turn have an opportunity to share their stories of setting both individual and team goals in a highly competitive arena while representing the USA.  The shared experiences of a commitment to excellence, training to be the best, high pressure situations, representing the United States and world travel provide multiple subjects for interactions and engagement by all participants resulting in supportive and enduring relationships.


Attending the first DIVE INTO SERVICE trip will be Troy Dumais, USA Diving 4-time Olympian and 2012 silver medalist, Terry Powers, Vice President of USA Diving and Rob Powers, founder of American300 Tours.  During the Peterson Air Force base visit, USA Diving will announce plans for future DIVE INTO SERVICE trips, including a trip to Thule Air Base, located on the northern end of Greenland.  Thule Air Base is 750 miles above the Arctic Circle and is the US Armed Forces northernmost and remote military base.  USA Diving with continue planning additional trips with American300 to incorporate, engage and support the other four branches of military service.

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


Retired Generals Share Resilient Life Stories with Airmen

Major General Ed Mechenbier,
USAF/POW retired
Shreveport/Bossier City, LA -  On this 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on America, retired U.S. Air Force Generals, Bruce Fister and Ed Mechenbier are traveling to Barksdale Air Force Base to share life experiences that focus on resiliency and fostering positive growth with Airmen. 

The journey is one that American300.org has been taking to bases worldwide for years.  "We bring mentors to bases and let conversations occur in the workspaces. It's informal programming focused on connecting real life examples of resiliency with modern day warriors," says Robi Powers, the founder of the nonprofit effort and host of the mentoring program, adding, "It's a comprehensive approach which combines DoD computer and command based educational platforms with real life examples of the same." 

In 1964, Bruce and Ed received commissions from the Air Force Academy.  It would mark the last time in their careers that they'd serve side by side.  Moving forward in service Ed would follow a career path focused on fighter aircraft with nearly 6 years spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Classmate Bruce, would serve in Vietnam as well, praying for Ed's release while he conducted hundreds of missions with air mobility command. 
Lt General Bruce Fister, USAF

Combined the two accumulated over 70 years of duty and this week the Airmen of our 5th Bomb Wing, Air Force Global Strike Command will have an opportunity to get to know them. 

"We're as excited to learn the stories of our young Airmen as we are to share our own," says Mechenbier, adding "what American300.org is allowed to do is share stories which lead to conversations that are meaningful.  It's the antithesis of computer based programming, but supports our DoD human dimension development platforms completely." 

For more on the all volunteer efforts of American300 Tours visit: www.American300.org 

American300 - Border to Border with resiliency messages in August

Across the United States -  This week American300 is bringing mentors to border bases in Texas and North Dakota with visits scheduled for Maine and Florida as well. 

Kicking our Service with Honor - Never Quit Series week off in Texas will be Olympian Alex Diebold, who won bronze at the Sochi Winter Games in snowboarding.  Alex will be joined by Kyle Hildebrand, a professional musician who serves as a youth pastor in California, in addition to launching his latest musical effort ‘Whisper Mill’ alongside Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Brad Fite, who also volunteers for American300.  The combination of Music and Olympic Medals will be visiting US Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi Service Members stationed in the Brownsville, Texas area. 

Starting Monday, the world’s first amputee to summit Mount Everest heads to Minot Air Force Base where he’ll be joined by Army Purple Heart recipient and fellow high altitude climber Benjamin Breckheimer in sharing life stories with our Airmen of the 91st Missile Wing and 5th Bomb Wing of Air Force Global Strike Command. 

Half way across the country, Major General Edward Mechenbier, USAF ret. heads to US Coast Guard Sector Southwest Harbor to share his amazing 44 plus year Air Force career which included nearly 6 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. 

The week wraps up with Colonel Danny McKnight, of US Army Ranger legend, sharing his personal perspectives on a nearly 30 year career in the Army which included leading ground forces during Task Force Ranger, known internationally due to the major motion picture movie ‘Black Hawk Down’.   McKnight will be speaking with 2-124th Infantrymen and their families as a result of American300 ties to the unit while deployed to Africa this past year. 

Hosting duties will be split between Gretchen and Robi Powers this week with the two providing plenty of images and even a video or two while out on the road… ( facebook - American300 Tours ) 

American300 Never Quit Series programming is part of an overall effort by the nonprofit to support the Department of Defense’s comprehensive wellness and resiliency initiatives.   The nonprofit conducts over 30 resiliency guest tours per year worldwide. 

For more on American300 programming visit:  www.American300.or

Service with Honor - Black Hawk Down Colonel Danny McKnight

Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii - This coming week purple heart recipient US Army Ranger Commander Colonel Danny McKnight, retired will be visiting members of the Air Force and Marine Corps as part of American300's on going effort to boost resiliency amongst Service Members. 

McKnight who is best known for his role in leading ground forces during the famed 'Battle of Mogadishu' aka 'Black Hawk Down' will be visiting Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Hickam Air Force Base spending time with units that American300 has been working with for several years. 

This video was created in 2012 when McKnight was on another 'American300 Service with Honor Tour' to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, LA.   Hosting the visit will be American300 mentors Colonel John Bates, USMC retired who along with McKnight is a multi-time purple heart recipient and Robi Powers, founder of American300. 


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

Navy Astronaut Reunites with Troops in Middle East

Undisclosed Middle East -    This week, decorated combat fighter pilot, United States Navy Astronaut Captain Barry ‘Butch’ Wilmore, will be reunited with fellow service members deployed to the middle east.  He’ll also be strengthening the bond between DoD and NASA by once again drawing attention to the long standing relationship the two agencies have had since 1959. 

Captain Wilmore, a veteran of operations: Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southern Overwatch has flown over 6,800 tactical aircraft hours and landed on aircraft carriers 668 times, he’s also flown 21 combat missions all before joining the ranks of NASA’s Astronaut program.  

Selected as a NASA astronaut in July, 2000, he has served as pilot, flight engineer and commander on space shuttle and space station crews.  In March, 2015 he returned to Earth after spending nearly six months about the International Space Station. 

Now he heads out on his second DoD Armed Forces Entertainment Tour. 

With years of training in preparation for months of operational deployment whether as a Navy pilot or NASA astronaut, Captain Wilmore’s life story is relate-able to every service member he meets - and he loves spending time sharing it.

“I look forward to once again thanking my fellow service men and women for their sacrifices,” said Wilmore. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the unique experience of space flight with fellow service members.” 

On his first DoD Armed Forces Entertainment tour, Captain Wilmore, along with fellow Astronaut Rick Mastracchio, traveled to bases in Greenland, Cuba and Puerto Rico.  

“It’s amazing to witness the bond that forms between troops and astronauts, once both realize how similar their careers are in dedication to duty, sacrifice and commitment to mission excellence.” said Robi Powers, founder of American300, who has hosted hundreds of DoD Resiliency Tours. “Since Bob Hope, Troops have grown to expect the occasional entertainer visit, but there’s something surreal about seeing a NASA blue flight suit walking across a military base knowing that one of our ‘spacewalkers’ has taken time out to be with troops serving far away from home.” 

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

About Armed Forces Entertainment


Armed Forces Entertainment is the official 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. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Any Given Sunday

American300 Public Affairs - July 5, 2016

U.S. Coast Guard - Seattle,WA -   American300 presents ‘Any Given Sunday’ featuring NFL Super Bowl Champion Bear Pascoe this week. 

Sunday’s have ultimately provided Bear Pascoe’s family with a source of income his entire adult life.  From the moment he entered the NFL draft and was picked up by the San Francisco 49‘s to a quick move to the NY Giants, his Sunday’s have been the ultimate test of worth and job security. 

For big name players the pre-season is mostly just a warmup, but for Bear and the majority of NFL players, both young and old, each pre-season practice or game could be their last.  

Every day, every practice and every play is the ultimate test.  An opportunity to shine or disappear.  Understanding the workings of the NFL selection process is so complicated it takes a near college degree in ‘NFL Cut Down’ processes to understand it. But, that’s just the beginning.  Once on a team there is the unspoken understanding that players can be benched or worse pulled from a teams roster ‘on any given Sunday’.  

Work has always played a big part in how he’s played the game and lived his life.  With a wife who is a professional athlete and talented vocalist, finding quality family time while both pursue professional athletic careers has never been easy.  “It’s incredibly hard, but when you look at what makes anything really happen the answer is near always - work.” says Bear Pascoe. 

Bear, will be spending several days with our District 13 Coast Guard members this week in an effort by American300 to share likable life stories.  “Our mentor program is based on connecting individuals who are relevant and relatable to our Service Members,” says Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit, which focuses on increasing overall understanding of resiliency with troops serving around the world, “Two professionals, who are world’s a part in their day to day lives, but who put in the necessary work to keep their relationship and family unit strong - it’s a professional and personal story that our troops can relate to.” adds Powers. 

That work ethic applies to his football career as well. As a career backup tight end with now four team rosters represented, Pascoe has seen his share of coaching and player styles.   “You have to choose what type of player you’re going to be,” says Pascoe, who grew up on a working ranch wearing cowboy boots far more then athletic footwear growing up, “I always believed in modeling my play both on and off the field after the best, those who we all look up to as the true champions of sport, the players we want our kids to emulate.” 

Thirteenth District Coast Guard Service Members are going to be able to listen to some great life stories this week while a Super Bowl Champion gets to listen to the same - let the work begin. 

For more information follow the tour on facebook:  ‘American300 Tours’  or visit the nonprofit on line at:  www.American300.org   No federal endorsement of sponsors or organizations is implied or intended - American300.org 

World Champions Spend Nation's Birthday with Marine Corps Community

BRIDGEPORT CALIFORNIA - World Champion Hall of Fame Cowboys aren’t known to attend ranch rodeos all that often and when they do it’s usually as V.I.P. spectators rather then competitors.   That’s what makes the arrival of John Jones Jr. of steering wrestling hall of fame status so unique in this high meadow town nestled into the east side of the High Sierra’s. 

For the past four years, Jones has bid adios to his own family in order to spend July 4th with our United States Marines stationed at the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center just north of Bridgeport in the unincorporated area known as Pickel Meadows. 

As part of an all volunteer nonprofit effort Jones and his son-in-law Super Bowl Champion Bear Pascoe, will take part in the Centennial Livestock Companies Bridgeport Ranch Rodeo along with Marines in what locals have grown to call the ‘Dream Team’ entry.  “ We don’t count in the overall standings and we don’t usually follow the rules to the ‘t’, but we have one heck of a good time competing with our Marines against some of the best ranch rodeo cowboys in the country,” says Jones, who for the first time will be traveling to Bridgeport without his friend and fellow American300.org volunteer, hall of fame world champion Lewis
Feild.   Feild, lost his battle with cancer this past winter.   “We talked about whether we all needed to take a year off after Lewis passed this past winter, but in the end all agreed that Lewis would want us all together and with the troops on our nation’s birthday,”  says Robi Powers, founder of American300, adding, “there’s no doubt in our minds that Lewis will be with us on this tour and every one of our over 30 tours a year to bases worldwide, he like his son Kaycee have been and always will be part of the American300 Team.” 

With two full days of ranch rodeo competition open to the public and a ride through town with the Marine Special Operations Horsemenship Instructors on Monday as part of the Bridgeport Parade, this years ‘Wrangler National Patriot Mountain Cowboy Tour’ is turning four on the fourth. 

For more information on year-round worldwide American300 programming visit: www.American300.org  or follow along at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram 


American300 Returns To El Salvador For Olympic Day

San Salvador - Since 1948, International Olympic Committee National Olympic Committee’s have been celebrating the birth of the Olympic movement through a recognized ‘Olympic Day’.  

Focused on pillars of: Move, Learn and Discover, National Olympic Committees (NOC’s) have been charged with adopting new ways to promote the Olympic Spirit in their respective countries.   

In 1987, a masses ‘Olympic Day Run’ was established, making it easier for NOC’s to focus on hosting one event on one day between 17-24 June each year.  Since this time, dozens of NOC’s have developed comprehensive ‘Olympic Day Movements’ - El Salvador is one such country. 

With a focus on movement, learning and discovery, ESA Olympic Committee President Eduardo Palomo, charged his ESA Staff with expanding Olympic Spirit beyond a simple one day running event.   He also went one step farther and reached out to the United States non-government organization ONETEAM American300 Envoy’s over a year ago to assist with his charge. 

Founded by retired Olympic Teams coach,  Rob Powers, American300 ONETEAM Envoy’s enlist U.S. Olympic medalists to spread goodwill and foster positive growth in countries all over the world.   “We’ve had a relationship with the ESA Olympic Committee for over a year now, bringing Olympic champions to meet and share with ESA Olympic and development teams,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, adding “Eduardo (Palomo) has become not only a great partner, but a personal friend to many American Olympic Team members and his staff is one of the most dedicated and professional that we work with around the world.” 

Powers, is joined on this fourth envoy to El Salvador, by Olympic and World Champion Dan Beery, who captured Olympic gold in Athens, Greece during the 2004 summer games.  Beery, who serves as the lead ambassador for ONETEAM American300 Envoy’s asked fellow rower, Susan Francia, to accompany the group on this visit.  

“Susan symbolizes every that Olympic President Pierre de Coubertin had in mind when he proposed the re-birth of what is now the modern Olympic Games in 1894,” says Beery, “ Susan brought home 2 Olympic gold medals for TeamUSA in Athens and London along with numerous World Championship titles, but what makes her perfect for this program is what she has done for sport since becoming a Hall of Fame athlete. Today she is a coach, mentor and ambassador for the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.” added Beery. 

With plans to attend the ESA Olympic ‘Road to Rio’ Gala, Olympic Day Run and spend quality time with athletes and their families, it’s easy to see why Mr. Eduardo Palomo’s vision for expanding opportunities to his family of athletes and staff members is recognized by American300 ONETEAM Envoy’s and members of the International Olympic Committee as being so inline with the spirit of the Olympic movement worldwide. 

Media inquires should be directed to Felipe Flores, Director of Athletics - fflores@comiteolimpicoesa.com


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

American300 Returns to Ketchikan Alaska with 'The Makers'

US Coast Guard Base Ketchikan - American300 returns to Alaska’s southern island with musicians Brad Fite, USMC Wounded Warrior and Kyle Hildebrand, from the band ‘The Makers’. 

‘In July of 2010, while conducting a combat patrol in Afghanistan, a roadside bomb detonated directly beneath United States Marine, Brad Fite, causing catastrophic injuries that warranted him the Purple Heart. 

His physical array of injuries would heal, but the invisible wounds would haunt him for years. While recovering in multiple hospitals, Brad’s misfortunate fame began to take its toll in the form of PTS. After three failed suicide attempts, Brad delved back into music and discovered that through music he could truly begin healing.

Over the span of five years, Brad wrote continuously and embedded the pains of his past and storied his recovery in music and lyrics; the outcome would be The Makers’ first studio album, War Stories Vol. One.

In May of 2015, after more than a year of searching for the perfect fit, Brad met lead vocalist and San Diego native, Kyle Hildebrand—an industry veteran and former front man of the band Edify—and the two formed The Makers. 

Kyle’s powerful and raw vocals bring to life Brad’s lyrics and melodies in a way that only someone who truly understands the pain of a past can do, and Kyle, having fought through his own kind of hell, does just that. 

The two tell a story of hope, transformation, and grace through their music in their own unique fashion. Genres have been left at the door as The Makers escape the chains of genre specific music - from The Makers.’ 

Brad and Kyle, come to American300 through a new friendship between Phoenix Patriot Foundation and American300 Tours. “ I met Darren Isham, a retired US Navy SEAL Master Chief, this spring and he along with Phoenix Patriot Band and Music Program opened the doors to a whole new group of amazing musical mentors,” says Robi Powers, host and founder of American300, adding “Our goal is to help make Service Members stronger and you can’t do that from a lectern once a year, it’s why we’re back up in Ketchikan for the eighth time in two years.” 

About American300.org -  All volunteer non-government organization ( AVO/NGO) which provides resiliency subject matter experts to: Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Department of State Service Members and Employees.  Volunteer mentors spend days with units and then make themselves available for follow discussions after their visits.  To date, the nonprofit has placed guests on over 500 bases worldwide and conducted thousands of mentoring sessions with over 150 mentors who give of their time freely. USCG programming is funded through donor dollar contributions to the nonprofit. 

No federal endorsement of nonprofit is intended or implied - follow via: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - www.American300.org 






7th Annual Wrangler National Patriot Tour Heads to Africa

Undisclosed Areas of Operation Africa -  For the past seven years Wrangler professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls along with Nashville Artists have traveled to remote U.S. Armed Forces Bases around the world to salute our Troops on Memorial Day. 

This year, five-time world champion hall of fame cowboy Rob Smets, of Texas will be joining the all-star line up in taking hats off for our Troops.   Past tours having taken the Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls to: Iraq, Afghanistan, Alaska and Pacific Commands multiple times, with this years tour placing their cowboy boots on the sub-Sahara and Horn of Africa. 

Accustomed to the atmospheric mood shift that occurs on Memorial Day each year, the professional rodeo athletes and musicians have perfected the art of raising spirits while solemnly honoring the sacrifices that have been made by our service members.  

“This tour was created to fulfill a request by DoD Armed Forces Entertainment to our organization, our normal programming is motivational/mentor oriented, but this tour was created as a sustainable tour that would be appropriate for the hollowed week in May each year.” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, adding, “Originally we were going to utilize our group of Olympians, but then I meet Jeff Chadwick of the Wrangler Corporation and we started talking about Cowboys and Cowgirls... the American western way of life, the need for guests that could represent our entire nation and way of life.” 

Chadwick, didn’t waste anytime reaching out to his Wrangler endorsees. “The hardest aspect was finding athletes who could afford to leave the circuit, May is well into the competitive points chase” recalled, Chadwick, adding, “I need not have worried, the response 8 years ago was overwhelming, now the hardest part is selecting the crew each year.” 

Whether sharing stories or listening to the same, the Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls along with Nashville star have perfected the art of being around troops.  This year with the addition of Smets, there’s an even larger sense of sacrifice being shared.   

“Rob spent decades throwing his body in front of 2,000+ pound bulls in an effort to give bull riders the necessary seconds needed to get up off the arena floor to safety,” says Chadwick, “ the troops are going to relate to Rob’s career and most importantly Rob, like all the team members are going to be able to convey the deepest appreciation on behalf of the entire country.” 

This year’s Wrangler Patriots include: Annie ‘Outlaw Annie’ Bianco, world champion mounted shooting cowgirl, Brittney Truman, professional cowgirl and Miss Rodeo Arizona, Rob Smets, world champion bullfighter, Lucas Hoge, Nashville country music star and his lead guitarist Thomas Becker.   The group will be led by Jeff Chadwick, former professional cowboy and Director with Wrangler Corporation and Robi Powers, founder American300 Tours and volunteer tour leader for DoD Armed Forces Entertainment office. 

With a goal of sharing ‘Day in the Life’ type experiences with our Troops and evenings kicking back to the sounds of Nashville country star Lucas Hoge - this Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour is once again headed overseas... for the seventh straight year. 

About American300 Tours 

American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit organization, established to support our Department of Defense and Department of State with quality mentor programming.  Each year hundreds of volunteers spend over 35,000 hours supporting 35 tours to remote and isolated areas of service around the world. More at: www.American300.org  and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 


About Armed Forces Entertainment


Armed Forces Entertainment is the official 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. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Air Force Generals Break Ice with Texas Coasties

Corpus Christi, Texas -  If southern Texas had wintery weather and thick ice, Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, could likely lay claim to performing every U.S. Coast Guard mission. 

Instead, minus ice-breaking duties, the yearly responsibilities performed by the Sector include over 450 search and rescue cases, assisting with nearly 600 person in distress calls and saving nearly 100 lives and hauling in over 5,500 Ibs of drugs.  All while maintaining vessel inspections, investigating marine related incidents and maintaining aids to navigation over hundreds of miles of coastline - to name a few. 

This week, a group of volunteers will be visiting Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi with one mission: to increase Service Members understanding of resiliency. 

Without power-point presentations, handouts or lectures, retired Air Force Generals: Brett Dula, Bruce Fister and Ed Mechenbier will spend time with Sector Coasties.  “Our goal is to place: likable, relatable and relevant mentors on the deckplate and give them time to ‘break ice‘ with Service Members.” says Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit, who adds, “these gentlemen represent nearly 100 years of uniformed duty to our country that all started off in 1964 when they graduated together from the Air Force Academy.” 

While they graduated together as young Lieutenants, Mechenbier fell behind his classmates in career development, the result of spending nearly 6 years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam.  “So life threw me a curveball and I got beat up for a few years in a concrete closet, it didn’t stop me from living.” says the Silver Star and Gold Purple Heart recipient who was the last serving Vietnam P.O.W. when he retired a decade ago.   

Now after 3 years of visiting bases Ed Mechenbier has looped in classmates Dula and Fister.  “Everyone wants to know what the P.O.W. experience was like, but I think what’s more interesting is how Bruce was quietly one of our special operations command founders or Brett’s roles within nearly every leadership position the Air Force has to offer.”  says Mechenbier, adding  “That’s what makes the program so effective, it’s the antithesis of computer based training.” 

Real life stories and experience shared by individuals who want to make the force of today the best in duty to our country, families and communities - American300 Tours. 

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


American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit with a mission of supporting our Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Department of State.   No endorsement of nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org 

Service with Honor - Amanda Wirtz, USN

American300 Public Affairs - 25MAR16

Joint Base Pearl Harbor - For Navy cryptologist Amanda Wirtz, the harsh reality was that a group of fellow shipmates conspired in facilitating a horrific sexual assault. Instead of throwing in the towel, Wirtz focused on living and continuing to serve with a majority who were her brothers and sisters in arms - not animals. 

Despite that dreadful night, in the years that followed, the young sailor excelled and was assigned to dynamic duty assignments in Spain, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Canada and Washington DC.   It wasn’t until years and numerous duty assignments later, that the Petty Officer Second Class Wirtz would face a much larger foe: Dercum’s Disease.  With pain similar to shingles on steroids, tumors began popping up all over her body. Wirtz was medically discharged and forced to leave the service she loved.  With over 30 tumors removed, doctors heralded a harrowing refrain: there’s no way out… this is a rare, progressive and incurable disease.

The problem for the Disease was that this Sailor was a fighter! 

Ultimately, Wirtz would become a leading authority on her own disease.  She would also internalize and face the real truths behind her disease and life choices. “Early on, I contemplated suicide – my life had become my worst nightmare come true.  I decided that I would either kill myself or die fighting.  Having lost my life as I knew it, I jumped into the ring - I committed to do everything I could to help myself and others. I turned my pain into passion … and with perseverance, changed the entire trajectory of my life.” 

Over the course of numerous years of study and practical application, she developed a balanced combination of mental, emotional and physical strength training.  Combined with dietary refinement to name a few life changes, she stopped the tumors dead in their tracks and diminished the pain substantially.  “In the end it came down to asking myself the right questions and applying real effort to the answers.” 

This week American300 returns to Marine Corps Base Hawaii and the 15th Wing of the Air Force at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii with it’s ‘Service with Honor’ series featuring the nonprofit’s newest mentor - Amanda Wirtz.  

“Like so many of our mentors, Amanda came to us via word of mouth. Her story of never quitting is beyond compelling and her positive never look back outlook on life is infectious - contagious,” says Colonel John R. Bates Jr., a retired Marine Corps three-time combat wounded warrior who has been mentoring with the nonprofit since 2012,  adding “We have professional military education modules on resiliency which are being taught in military classrooms and online, American300 simply delivers real life examples of resiliency to support the teachings, make the subject matter more relatable.”

Wirtz, who is a renowned concert violin player, will also share her passion for music with the Marines and Airmen she meets.  “We vetted Amanda based on her incredible approach to life in the face of insurmountable obstacles, then we found out she has this amazing musical ability,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, who points out, “Amanda saves no punches for how important facing the truth is in life, her approach to overcoming adversity on a daily basis requires constant personal accountability and effort - the musician in her is just an amazing bonus.” 


The all volunteer American300 Tours, support the Department of Defense’s comprehensive resiliency educational programs. Volunteer mentors deploy on a monthly basis throughout the world, sharing real life stories of resiliency in a way that service members find: likable, relevant and relatable.  For more information on how to schedule American300 guest visits to a specific command please contact the nonprofit via:   www.American300.org 

Everest Expedition Leaders Head to U.S. Military Bases in Middle East

Undisclosed Areas of Operation Southwest Asia -  DoD Armed Forces Entertainment office and American300.org are teaming up once again to present Everest - a professional edu-tainment tour featuring Himalayan expedition leaders: Tonya Clement, Chris Klinke, Eric Meyer, M.D. and Tom Whittaker.  

Tom Whittaker wasn’t the first person to scale and stand on the summit of Mount Everest, but he was the first to do it with one leg!  On May 27th 1998, the amputee climber, broke through boundaries established by the able-bodied climbing community, by planting his foot on the highest mountain in the world.  Twenty years later, dozens of climbers with disabilities have now accomplished what Whittaker was told couldn’t be done! Whittaker opened the door to the highest summit in the world. 

In 1975, Japanese climber Junko Tabei, became the first women to summit Everest, while at the same time, Tonya Clement, was entering her junior year in high school.  Clement didn’t start climbing seriously until she was in her 30‘s.  On May 19th, 2006 she reached the summit of Everest.  On that day, she became the 20th female to follow Tabei’s efforts, but not here route.  Clement’s path to the summit, utilized the far more difficult North Ridge making her the 5th out of 9 women worldwide to conquer Everest via the North Ridge. 

For climbers Chris Klinke and doctor Eric Meyer, Everest was a summit previously mastered when they found themselves in the death zone above 8,000 meters on K2 in 2008.  The treacherous, second tallest mountain in the world, had given way to a near perfect day.  The two climbers along with an international group of teammates where staged at Camp 4, at 8,300 meters. It was summit day! But due to a breakdown in both communication, and follow through on promises made amongst the various mountain teams, things were not going well.   After months away from home, and tens of thousands of dollars spent attempting to reach the summit, Klinke and Meyer (along with others on their team) had to make a choice - ascend or wait for another day.    

In the end, they chose to stand down and wait things out at Camp 4.  In retrospect, their decision saved their lives.  Over the next 48 hours, K2 experienced its deadliest days, with 11 climbers falling or freezing to death. 

With little fanfare and even less time behind microphones, American300’s team of expeditionary climbers will spend the majority of their time in operational areas far from big stage lights of standard entertainment tours. These special guests, and their stories of never quitting will spend their time with armed forces units serving in remote and isolated locations. 

Serving as team leaders for the climbers are veterans: Rob Powers, the founder of American300.org and John Bates, a retired Marine Corps Colonel and 3 time Purple Heart recipient.  “These climbers have incredible resilient stories to share, life experience that parallel that of military service in many ways,” says Bates, adding, “American300 guests have been doing these types of tours since 2006 when Powers started the project, and I know the Troops benefit enormously from these exchanges, because I’m one of them.”

Sharing resilient messaging that is relevant and relatable is a primary goal of American300 Tours, but often times the nonprofit’s guests also bring subject matter expertise to the units they interact with.   “As expedition leader, the number one goal is to get everyone home safely and that requires making hard decisions at times,” says Klinke, adding, “ I remind myself constantly that 90% of the deaths that occur on expeditions can be traced back to poor leadership decisions.” 

Whether sharing inspirational, motivational resiliency messages or adding new perspectives to leadership development, American300 Tours does not fall under the category of entertainment with the DoD, rather it’s due to the requests for this type of programming that American300 Tours teams up with the DoD’s entertainment powerhouse.   

“We love working with Armed Forces Entertainment, they allow our tours to go out and share jaw dropping real life stories and listen to the same,” says Robi Powers, adding, “by connecting and sharing, we all learn together how to deal with life’s challenges, learn how to make better choices - it’s not rocket science, it’s just a proven mentoring program that the Troops love and benefit enormously from.” 


The Department of Defense refers to American300 type programming as Edu-tainment reflecting the educational development opportunities that these tours bring to military bases. Wounded Warrior, John Bates, explains it best: “Troops love meeting and sharing with relevant and relatable guests – American300 programs have helped thousands make better sense of life’s struggles while casting a light on making the impossible - possible.” 

For more on American300 visit: www.American300.org 

About Armed Forces Entertainment


Armed Forces Entertainment is the official 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. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.