Olympians and Troops…similarities in excellence!

Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii -  With the snow melting literally around them, US Ski Team and Snowboard Olympic Team members: Emily Cook and Alex Deibold charged through the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

One came home with Olympic Bronze, the other with the satisfaction of a best Olympic result after 3 Olympic Teams and Games.

Now a little over a month after the Sochi Winter Olympic Games have come to a close the two Olympians are headed west to another seaside clime: Hawaii and Joint Base Pearl Harbor's Hickam Air Force Base and Marine Corps Base Hawaii.  While most Olympians take time off to recharge from an Olympic Games, Cook and Deibold are focused on spending time with American Service Members as part of American300's 'Heavy Medal Tour VII'.

American300 has rounded up Olympic athletes and asked them to share their personal life experiences with service members… and sweat with them too since 2009.   The first Olympian to tour with the nonprofit: Olympic gold medalist and hall of fame runner Frank Shorter, who traveled to Iraq.  "The parallels between pursuing a career of excellence as an amateur athlete and those of serving our country in the armed forces are surprisingly similar," says Mike Lane, a volunteer with American300 who has traveled on 2 Heavy Medal Tours, adding, "We would have stopped doing these themed Olympian Troop Tours had it not been for the feedback we receive from commanders and their teams on the ground. Troops just love meeting and sharing with Olympians."

Swapping personal life stories, providing encouragement and offering support is the foundation of American300 Tours resiliency programming which includes themed tours involving a wide array of individuals, from wounded warriors to extreme and professional athletes.

When Olympians are involved they travel under the themes of:  'Heavy Medal Tour' and 'Beyond the Games' each involving Olympians giving up their time and energy to connect with service members.  "We've had Olympians all over the world engaging with service members in everything from tactical exercises to demanding physical fitness tests," says Robi Powers, Veteran and founder of American300, he adds "but listening to the athletes and service members just talk is what gives us the biggest positive charge.  Once they get chatting away you can't tell who the Olympians are vs. the Service Members."

The two worlds of: duty, sacrifice and total commitment just aren't that far apart.   "I just can't wait to experience what these service members go through on a regular basis, they tell me I'm going to be doing a 15km combat gear run with the Marines next week," says Alex Deibold, a Sochi Winter Games Olympic Bronze Medalist in snowboarding boardercross, "I'm down for living in their boots literally, if that means trying out new things all the better."

Emily Cook, considered by most to be one of America's true Olympic Team ambassadors has always wanted to connect with service members.  When the opportunity to join the American300 Tours became available she jumped at it.  "It's incredible to think about and talk about the things that we have in common with our service members, our troops have faced so many obstacles that we can't even imagine, but there are similarities in how we overcome obstacles and that is what I'm excited to share next week," says Cook, a 15 year veteran of international elite athletics adding, "I've always wanted to be able to do this, now after 3 Olympic Teams I am and it's just fantastic."

For Cook, the journey to visit Air Force Airmen and Marines won't be the last of her volunteer duties with American300 this year. "We have Emily slated to travel with Army wounded warrior and 2x US Paralympic Team member Patrick McDonald, the 'Skip' of the USA Men's Curling Paralympic Team in June, they'll be visiting Barksdale Air Force Base on 'Heavy Medal Tour VIII'" says Lane.

Elite athletes and the world's greatest Armed Forces, similarities in excellence… let the sharing begin!

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

American300 is a all volunteer nonprofit 501c3 with a mission of supporting the Department of Defenses Comprehensive Service Member Fitness Programs.   No federal endorsement is implied or intended - American300.org

Astronaut Sends Thanks to Air Force Space Command Airmen

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE- American300 volunteers: Mike Lane, John Kohnke, Erik Powers and Robi Powers spend the day with Airmen from 21st Space Wing and 1st Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base.  The American300 team was on deck to share stories about NASA Astronaut and fellow American300 volunteer mentor Astronaut Steve Swanson.   Swanson launched into space on International Space Station Mission 39 today.

For more on the visit please go to:  'American300 Tours'  

The Mountain Brotherhood… climbers and scout snipers

Marines and Mountaineers receiving FTX Orders
USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center, Pickel Meadows California -  “You've been issued 30 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, the exercise will be broken down into 2 skiing movements with 2 shooting stages,” the voice of the mountain warfare training center scout sniper cadre member could be heard echoing off the mountains along the Pacific Rim Trail, “Upon completion of this field exercise we’ll tally up the hits and deduct 1 minute for every round on target to determine the fastest finish time.” 

Eric Meyer, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado had spent enough time around nordic skiing as a US Ski Team Physcian to know that 30 hits would nearly wipe out the 5km total cross-country ski portion of this military style biathlon exercise.  He also knew that he along with fellow Himalayan climbers Chris Klinke and Chhiring Dorje Sherpa had their work cut out for them to keep up with the elite Marine Corps scout snipers joining them in the exercise.   

    “I never saw myself sitting around a fire pit in the middle of the night, 
talking about Everest Base Camp and Camp Leatherneck - Afghanistan 
in the same sentence.”    -   Eric Meyer M.D.  

Eric Meyer M.D. wraps up a course of fire
American300 Tours brought these renowned high altitude expedition leaders to the training center to assist the DoD with subject matter expertise. While the climbers had little familiarization with Marine Corps issued equipment and weapons, they did posses strategic and tactical operational experience in dealing with compartmentalized high altitude environs.  

Chris Klinke talks mountaineering with Marines
“We’re here because of American300, they (the nonprofit) are focused on exchange, whether in the form of subject matter resiliency experts or operational expertise,” said Eric Meyer M.D., adding “Chhiring has never shot a rifle in his life, but what he lacks in weapons knowledge he more then makes up for in mountain clime experience, he's been to the top of Mount Everest 12 times.”

As Chris Klinke adjusted the straps on his desert tan government issue rucksack, Chhiring Dorje was busy deciding which way he wanted to sling the M4 rifle over his back. “This is fantastic, we’ve spent the last 24 hours up here in the high Sierra’s with these combat hardened Marines, the entire experience has been an open two-way exchange of information and experience.” said Chris Klinke, the expedition leader for the Americans. 

Chhiring Dorje Sherpa
When the exercise was over, it came down to shooting expertise to determine the overall winner.  With no missed shots, Corporal David Thiessen, of the 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment came out on top. “I was just focused on my skis and not throwing up,” said Thiessen closing with, “Scout Snipers are a tight community, everyone knows everyone, it’s just like the mountaineer community and that makes for commonality and brotherhood which you need when operating in these climes.”

For more photos visit American300 on Facebook: 
American300 Tours
For more information about American300:  www.American300.org

American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of supporting the Department of Defense and Department of State with unique resiliency subject matter experts.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied -   American300.org operates as a NGO/AVO. 

Perfection In All They Do… olympians visit nuclear missile and bomber base

Olympic Gold Medalist - Phil Mahre - US Ski Team
Minot Air Force Base, Minot North Dakota -   When Olympic Gold and Silver Medalists Phil and Steve Mahre, showed up for training they’d mentally prepared as best they could.  Their skis were waxed and sharpened by professionals... they were ready to strive for excellence. Throughout their careers as two of America’s greatest alpine ski racers they attained results that others only dreamed about.  

From Olympic gold and silver to world cup and world championship globes... they were simply the best.  How they trained had a huge part to do with their results, but they never had to achieve total perfection on a daily basis.  Race days provided the exam and in their case the scores where more times then not... perfect. 

This week, the Mahre brothers, will travel to this northern tear nuclear missile and bomber base to share life lessons learned and meet America’s nuclear force defenders and operators.   Joining them,  Olympian and X Games star Erin Simmons Nemec.   “I’ve been volunteering for American300 for several years now, they’ve had me on 2 nuclear bomber and 1 missile base so far, Minot has both and I can’t wait to share the experience with the Mahre brothers,” said Nemec, who like the Mahre brothers is now a parent and married, “ they’re going to be newbies learning about a mission that demands perfection on a daily basis.” 
Olympic Silver Medalist - Steve Mahre

Using on the ground personal life story telling and sharing is the mission of American300.  “We know that Airmen zoom through their mandatory computer based resiliency training.  Our goal is to bring aspects of the United States Air Forces Comprehensive Airmen Fitness program to life... put a face on it... make it relate-able.” says the nonprofits founder Robi Powers, of Steamboat Springs Colorado, a Veteran and retired US Ski Team coach. 

While the entire United States Armed Forces strive for perfection each and every day, the Air Force Global Strike Command bases along with other nuclear capable commands in the Navy have to achieve it or face being showcased on world and national news hours.   “We travel to bases all over the world supporting the DoD with resiliency training enhancement. We work with command problems, service members that make mistakes and accidents that occur as a result,” says Powers, adding, “It’s almost a luxury that some mission sets allow for minor mistakes to occur, Air Force Global Strike along with the rest of the DoD’s nuclear capable teams just can’t slip up.” 

“I believe the demands of what I did in the sporting world are nothing compared to what these service members go through regularly” - Steve Mahre 

Striving to be perfect each and everyday is something the hall of fame skiing Mahre brothers know a thing or two about.  “As athletes our training was where we found our limits and mistakes could be made without consciences.  It was only on competition days that perfection mattered.  These Airmen have to be perfect all the time, I hope they understand how special they are.” said Phil Mahre, his brother Steve adding,“I believe the demands of what I did in the sporting world are nothing compared to what these service members go through regularly.” 

Photos from the 'Beyond the Games Tour - Facebook: 'American300 Tours' 

For more information about American300 Tours:  www.American300.org

For more information on Air Force Global Strike Command: www.afgsc.af.mil

American300 is a 100% all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit ( NGO/AVO )  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever implied or intended.   Media contact: mane@steamboat.com 

Beyond the Games… malmstrom air force base

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Great Falls Montana-   As global sports fans everywhere are still celebrating the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, two veteran Olympians are traveling to this Air Force Global Strike Command Air Base to share their life stories with Airmen. Their goal: showing today’s Airmen that they too are Olympic Team material. 

‘Beyond the Games’ is the themed named for this special engagement.  It’s arrival at the 341st Missile Wing is focused on helping the Department of Defense put a face on resiliency training.  “Our armed forces members whether serving on active duty, reserves or of veteran status need to see that they aren’t alone in their commitment to excellence,” says Mike Lane, communications director has brought the Olympians to Malmstrom AFB, adding, “the same sacrifices that Olympians make in pursuit of their sports dreams are experienced on a daily basis by our service members.” 

Connecting the two parallel universes has been the job of the all volunteer nonprofit American300 Tours.  Over the past 5 years the organization has brought olympic and professional sports athletes, wounded warriors and a wide array of unique guest mentors to bases all over the world.   With a mission of connecting amazing individual life stories with our service members to allow them to draw from other experiences.  “The past two decades have been brutal on our armed forces, our goal is to show them (military members) that they aren’t alone in dealing with adversity.” says Robi Powers, a veteran and retired US Ski Team coach, “We believe in growth through connecting individuals who have in some way shape or form been there and done that.” he added. 

There were times in olympic snowboardcross athlete, Erin Nemec’s life when she defined herself as an athlete and didn’t see beyond the next world cup let alone Olympic Games. “ All I can say is that it’s a whole new world being a mother of two and wife,” reflects the three-time X Games silver medalist, “We never had career planners, it was about living in the moment during my years of competition... now the olympic teams all have career advisors helping athletes plan for the future, it’s awesome.” 

Olympian Ann Battelle Ayad shares Nemec’s view: “the focus was always on competition, doing the ‘job’ of being an Olympian was what it was all about.  It wasn’t till after my 4th Olympic Team that I started to transition into what now seems like a whole different world, being a parent and wife.” 

For the next 3 days the Olympians will be at Malmstrom, engaging with Airmen from the full spectrum of air force specialty codes.  From missileers to the maintainers and security forces which keep our nations nuclear deterrence arsenal ready around the clock.  “Air Force Global Strike Command is constantly working to strengthen the human weapons system,” says Powers, adding “We’re simply putting a 'Olympic Face' on the comprehensive airmen’s fitness doctrine that helps guide them." 

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

For more information on Air Force Global Strike Command visit: www.afgsc.af.mil 

Media Contact:  Mike Lane -  mlane@steamboat.com 

Olympians Bring Gold to Thule Air Base Service Members

Olympians Sean Colgan and Dan Beery
By American300 Public Affairs - 2/4/2014

Thule Air Base, Greenland-   Located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Thule Air Base represents the United States Armed Forces northern most base. 

With the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, taking place nearly 4,000 miles away, two former U.S. Olympians are traveling to America’s most remote military base to share the Olympic Spirit and their personal life stories.  Behind their effort is the Department of Defense office of Armed Forces Entertainment and the nonprofit, American300 Tours. 

“I’ve made it a mission to share my personal Olympic story with troops,” says Dan Beery, whose USA mens 8 rowing team brought home gold and set an Olympic record during the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games. “My Olympic journey started because of a setback that ended my dreams of playing basketball in the NBA. Now I’m headed into the darkness and freezing temperatures of northern Greenland with an Olympic gold medal in my pocket. If you don’t quit on life, it’s amazing what the future can bring,” said Beery.  Joining Beery will be Hall of Fame rower and long-time mentor Sean Colgan.   

Congressional and Olympic Gold Medals
As a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, Colgan and his teammates had a choice to make: support President Carter and Congress with the boycotting of the Moscow Summer Olympics or become outspoken critics of the withdraw by the American team from the Games.  “We found out about the boycott and took a quick team vote,”  said Colgan. He quickly added, “the choice was clear, we were Americans and our country needed our support.”  

In the years after the Moscow Summer Olympics, Colgan and his teammates organized two rematches with the Soviet mens 8 Rowing Team that captured bronze.  The Americans won both rematches handily and to this day stay in touch with several of the Russian athletes. 

While not an Olympic Gold Medal, Colgan is honored by the Congressional Gold Medal that he and his teammates received for their united stance in supporting our government. “Hey, the troops we share our medals with always comment on how my gold medal is bigger than Dan’s, that’s good for something,” said a laughing Colgan.

Robi Powers - American300
Pulling amazing individuals together and having them share their personal life stories with service members is the work of American300 Tours, a volunteer nonprofit that has been hard at work putting faces on the resiliency effort for the Department of Defense . “Resiliency in the military is a complex issue, all we’re doing is putting a face on it with these guest mentors who are willing to go where the sun doesn’t shine on bases all over the world.” says Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit and a veteran of both the Army and US Ski Team and Biathlon Team.  

While the sun won’t be visible during the first half of the Olympians week-long visit, weather permitting they should see the sun for a few minutes during their last few days on base.  No matter the amount of sun they see, the Olympians plan on making sure that the golden glow of their medals shines brightly above the Arctic Circle for all our service members to see.  
About American300 Tours:  The American300 Tours produce educational resiliency programs designed to serve the Department of Defense.  The nonprofit also produces ONETEAM Envoys for the Department of State.  With a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Armed Forces Members, their Families and the Communities which they live and operate in around the world. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied- American300.org 

American300 can be found on the worldwide web at: www.american300.org

The nonprofit also has a active facebook page:  ‘American300 Tours’ 

For more on the DoD office Armed Forces Entertainment: www.armedforcesentertainment.com 

Media inquiries can be directed to Mike Lane - mlane@steamboat.com 

Service with Honor Series - West Point USMA

Northern Vietnam, June 1967 -   As the F4 Phantom pilot struggled to save the plane, he could hear his backseat navigator repeating the words “We’re not going to make it.... not going to make it.”   Moments later, the world’s greatest fighter pilot surrendered to the failing aircraft and gave the command to eject... the date was June 14, 1967.   

Before the two US Air Force Pilots parachutes fully deployed, the F4 Phantom slammed into the ground.   USAF Lieutenants Ed Mechenbier and Kevin McManis had missed certain death by less then two seconds.  

Unfortunately, for the two this wasn’t a training mission.  As they descended their chutes nylon fabric was torn by small arms fire from below... they had a welcoming committee forming up directly below them.  

After nearly six years of confinement, torture and near death experiences the fighter pilots along with nearly 600 other prisoners of war came home.  Their fight in Vietnam was over. 

Fast forward to Monday, January 27, 2014.  Edward Mechenbier, the longest serving armed forces member from the group of Vietnam P.O.W.‘s was fully engaged in sharing his life story.  From the number of steps it took to empty his ‘honey bucket’ each day to the approximate number of individual rice kernels in an average daily meal.  Listening intently were America’s future U.S. Army leaders. 

The purpose of the engagement - to share the experience, put a face on resiliency and provide hope and connectedness between the hardships of past conflicts and the promise of obstacles which will face our future leaders. 

Once again, American300 Tours was at work providing face to face exchanges between real life resiliency subject matter experts and service members.  

For Major General Edward Mechenbier and Robi Powers, founder of American300 Tours, it was another opportunity to share, to connect.   Something that American300 Tours does on a monthly basis every month of the year at bases all over the world.
Major Davis with Robi Powers and
MajGen Mechenbier - USMA

“Resiliency in the military is complex, to increase (it) we need to do everything we can.  One very basic thing we can do is show our service members that there is hope... light at the end of life’s difficult tunnels,” says Powers adding, “ you don’t get more light at the end of the tunnel then hearing General Mechenbier’s life story and meeting the man up close.” 

General Mechenbier is one of many resiliency mentors that American300 has reached out to and asked to share their stories.  Together the Veteran’s travel the world to bases on resiliency tours under the themed name “Service with Honor”.    

Special thanks to United States Military Academy Superintendent  Lieutenant General Robert Caslen and his entire staff and cadet corps for the amazing visit to West Point. 

Serve with Honor! 

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

Facebook Users can visit:  ‘American300 Tours’ 

American300 is an all volunteer nonprofit 501c3 with a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Armed Forces Members, their Families and the Areas in which they live and Operate in around the world.  No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is ever intended or implied - American300.org. 

New Program Connects Military with Olympians

USMC Wounded Warrior with Emilia Wint 
by American300 Public Affairs 

Park City Utah - (1/20/14) - When Emilia Wint was named to the first ever U.S. Freeskiing Team it couldn’t have come at a better time.   Freeskiing was just added as the newest Winter Olympic event and the young 19 year old from Denver, Colorado, was one of our countries best in slopestyle skiing. 

Like all US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) national team athletes, Emilia, who goes by  ‘Meels’, was pushing the envelope in training to prepare for the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Misfortune derailed her ambitions when she blew out her knee in training this past November and had to undergo surgery.   

Standing with crutches and watching her fellow national team members along with some new comers round out the inaugural Freeskiing Olympic Team’s ranks during final trials in Park City, Utah this past weekend was tough.  However, unlike previously injured USSA athletes, Meels was apart of a new and innovative style of programming.  

Enter the all new USSA Military Mentorship Program sponsored by PenFed and military mentors Colonel John Bates, a 3x Purple Heart United States Marine Corps veteran of 3 wars and Colonel Danny McKnight of the U.S. Army Rangers, the ground force commander during the battle of Mogadishu, made famous by the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’. Who together along with American300’s Robi Powers, also a Veteran were on hand for this past weekends competitions.

“Emilia, like all of these athletes is a world class individual, that also happens to be one of the best at what she does athletically,” said Bates, “When they push themselves to do these amazing gravity defying feats on snow, there are going to be times when they come up short and become injured-wounded. I know what it’s like to get wounded and love sharing my lessons learned with these elite athletes.” 

Being able to connect elite athletes with elite service members so that personal life learning can foster positive growth is one of the primary missions of the USSA Military Mentorship Program. 

“We are combining two of the best organizations in the world and allowing the synergies of excellence to foster positive growth,” says program creator Robi Powers, a former US Ski Team athlete and coach who is also a military veteran. “Initially we had planned to roll out this program  in full force  after the Olympics, but PenFed came in and made this pre-Olympic engagement possible.” 
Colonel's John Bates and Danny McKnight
with Olympian Todd Lodwick - USSA COE

For five-time Olympian Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the visit to the USSA Center of Excellence couldn’t have come at a better time. The world champion and Olympic silver medalist had crashed in France while ski jumping the previous week, sustaining injuries to his shoulder.  While qualified for his sixth Olympic Games, his  ability to compete is uncertain.  

“I’m pretty busted up, but I’m training hard and going through hours of rehab daily and  only time is going to tell whether it’s enough,” said Lodwick, who has traveled to Iraq and combat locations with Powers to share motivational messages with Armed Forces members since winning his Olympic silver medal in Vancouver.  “Today two amazing American heroes stopped by to give me a pat on the shoulder, which means more to me then I can explain right now.”   

With USSA athletes like Lindsey Vonn, Wint and possibly Lodwick sidelined from competing in Sochi, having a network of service members on call to assist athletes in facing adversity is just one aspect to this new program’s full mission. 

“We are going to bring wounded warriors to USSA Training Camps and connect USSA athletes to bases all over the world to ensure that these two elite teams share, grow and become stronger- together,” says Powers. 

Like the military, the US Ski Team, Snowboarding Team and Freeskiing Team communities are tight knit.  As word spread of the PenFed sponsorship and involvement, alumni athletes Phil and Steve Mahre stepped forward to lend a hand. 

“Phil and Steve Mahre are headed to Minot Air Force Base to visit with the United States Air Force, 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing Airmen right after the Olympics,” confirmed Mike Lane, American300’s Public Affairs Director who works full time as Steamboat Ski Resort’s Public Relations Director, “The Mahre brothers are legends in the ski community and personify excellence in sport and life, the Minot Tour is going to be amazing coming right on the heels of the 2014 Games.” 

USSA Military Mentorship Program underway at
USSA Center of Excellence - Park City, Utah
As the days of interaction between wounded warriors and athletes came to a close at the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City last week, Colonel Bates smiled as he imparted these closing remarks on a group of national team athletes on the second floor of the center’s sprawling complex, “No matter if you go to Sochi or not, always remember that you’re representing America and that is the true honor… so be bold… be an American in everything you do." 

About American300 Tours:  The American300 Tours produce educational resiliency programs designed to serve the Department of Defense.  The nonprofit also produces ONETEAM Envoys for the Department of State.  With a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Armed Forces Members, their Families and the Communities which they live and operate in around the world through peaceful relations. 

Media inquiries can be directed to Mike Lane - mlane@steamboat.com 

About U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA): The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) is the national governing body of Olympic skiing and snowboarding. It is the parent organization of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing. Developed to facilitate participation in national and international competition, the Olympic sports organization provides structure for competitive skiing and snowboarding. From grassroots programs to governance of sport, management of rules, competitions and athletic rankings, the USSA oversees athletic pipelines for development in the sports. With a vision to make the USA the best in the world in Olympic skiing and snowboarding, the USSA provides leadership and direction for tens of thousands of young skiers and snowboarders who share an Olympic dream while maintaining a strong adherence to core values. The USSA, established in 1905, operates out of the national training and education facility, the Center of Excellence, in Park City, UT. For more information about USSA and its programs visit www.usskiteam.com and www.ussnowboarding.com.

Wounded Warrior Receives Surfboard

Sgt Matt Koetting, USMC
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Oceanside CA-Standing beside three-time purple heart recipient and retired United States Marine Corps Colonel John Bates, was nothing new for wounded warrior Marine Sergeant Matthew Koetting.  He’d spent months with the retired Colonel during his rehabilitation time at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay as a member of Marine Wounded Warrior Battalion West  - Detachment Hawaii. 

Far more comfortable maneuvering under the cover of darkness with his fellow First Reconnaissance Marines, instead he now found himself spotlighted in front of his peers- his brothers. 

It wasn’t the first time that Koetting had been recognized for outstanding service, his official military records jacket was thick with such praise from as high up as the Secretary of Defense.   What made this day unique was his platoon commander, Captain Steven Uziel, acceptance of an offer by the nonprofit American300 to have Veterans spend the day with his unit and present Koetting with a special gift.  

Like Sergeant Koetting, Sergeant Bates ( at the time ) chose to stay in the Marine Corps  after getting severely wounded, albeit it took the retired Colonel over double the three years of rehabilitation time experienced by Koetting, to get back to the front lines of duty. 

Chief Matt Tatum, US Navy
As the Colonel shared stories of Sergeant Koetting’s time in the wounded warrior regiment he in many ways was retelling aspects of his own journey to recovery.  “We both bombed out of college and joined the Marine Corps, we both were machine gunners and we both got blown up.  I just know that Matt’s the kind of outstanding Marine we need more of and hope he never adds stars to his purple heart,”  reflected Bates, referring to his own three time purple heart status. 

“What makes this gift so unique is that a Navy Chief from Marine Corps Air Station Hawaii created this custom surfboard, which we’re honored to present to you.  Chief Tatum put his heart and soul into making this board for us to give to you and we all hope it creates loads of great memories.”  said John Bates.

Memories which will always include seventeen of Koetting’s brothers-in-arms names which the Navy Chief embedded in the surfboard just above the inscription:   “Never Forgotten - OIF/OEF Will Always Be A Part Of You” 

About American300-  Created in 2008, the nonprofit provides the Department of Defense and Department of State with subject matter experts in resiliency. Utilizing volunteers who have resilient rich biographies, and are expert communicators, American300 Tours engage with service members around the world.   

Sgt Koetting and Col John Bates, USMC ret. 

For more information visit:  www.American300.org 

Media inquiries can be directed to American300 Public Affairs:  Mike Lane   mlane@steamboat.com 

Aloha Spirit Connects Marine Wounded Warrior with Surfboard

Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Camp Pendleton-  John Bates, USMC ret. has been there and done that for our country.  His life story involves receiving three purple hearts from three different combat engagements and life threatening wounds.  Wounds that were ultimately severe enough to earn him a Naval Medical Board medical retirement.

The problem... Sergeant Bates didn't want to stop being an active duty United States Marine!

After nearly seven years of physical and educational rehabilitation as a civilian the Naval Medical Board and Marine Corps gave him the thumbs up to rejoin the ranks… provided he pass officer candidate school!  Thirty-three plus years and three wars later, Colonel John Bates retired from active duty USMC Service due to the DoD mandatory age retirement requirement.

As a veteran, the Colonel continued to serve, volunteering amongst other duties with the Marine Wounded Warrior Regiment detachment West - Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.  For Colonel Bates it was easy to relate to badly wounded Marines… he was one.

One day a severely wounded Marine joined the Colonel's mentoring group. "This Marine showed up and I knew instantly that he was a 'Poster Marine' for everything the unit was working to accomplish.  This young Marine just wouldn't quit trying to get better, stronger… back in the fight." recalls Col. Bates, "I found myself getting motivated by his attitude. He not only ended up fighting his way back, but is now serving with one of the finest units in our entire Department of Defense - USMC 1st Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton."

Navy Chief Matthew Tatum
This coming week, American300 will be again teaming up with Colonel Bates to mentor troops, but thanks to a Navy Chief and his surfboard building abilities a very special wounded warrior will be recognized back at Pendleton as well.  "I was out at MCBH with another American300 Tour over Memorial Day and ended up doing PT (Physical Training) with a group of Naval Aviators.  After the workout I got talking with the Chief who was leading the PT Session and it turned out he builds custom surfboards as a hobby" said Robi Powers, Veteran and founder of American300 Tours "I thought it'd be cool if we could get a Navy Chief to build a board for a Marine Wounded Warrior, since the two branches share K Bay."

Powers discussed the idea with Colonel Bates, who immediately said he had a deserving Marine that he'd worked with for several years at KBay.  The only issue was that the Marine was no longer there, he'd moved out of the Wounded Warrior Regiment and was back within the ranks at Camp Pendleton and the 1st Recon Marine.

American300's Robi Powers and John Bates
With the recommendation in hand and offer by Navy Chief Matthew Tatum to build a board the pieces fell into place… or more appropriately… the board started to get shaped.

This weeks visit to MCBH will feature Colonel Bates and Powers conducting American300 mentoring sessions with members of Navy Chief Tatum's  aviation team as well as MCBH Marines and Hickam AFB Airmen.    The two American300 mentors will then fly to San Diego and spend a day with Captain Steven Uziel's 1st Platoon Alpha Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion Marines at Camp Pendleton.  "Chief Tatum put his heart and soul into the creation of this custom board. It's going to be a huge honor to present it to Marine Sergeant Matthew Koetting at the end of the day spent with his unit." says Powers. "I just wish operational tempo allowed us to bring Chief Tatum out with us as well, but we've promised to take lots of pictures and some video of the presentation for him."

It's not very often that American300 engages in surfboard building, but it's clear that the Aloha 'Shaka' Spirit of friendship, understanding, compassion and solidarity is going to be alive and well during this upcoming American300 Tour thanks to a Navy Chief and outstanding young Marine.

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

To follow on Facebook join us at:  'American300 Tours'

American300 Tours is an all volunteer nonprofit 501c3 with a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Armed Forces Community through mentor based engagements.  The surfboard that will be presented to Sergeant Koetting, USMC will be issued to him by American300 and remain the property of American300 with no federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit implied or intended.

Cowboys and Troops Reunite at Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

LAS VEGAS-   The PRCA ProRodeo Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will come to a close this Saturday with the 10th and final competition.  Hundreds of Cowboys and Cowgirls will have competed for top honors but only a few will go away from here world champions… the competition is fierce to say the least.

For the 4th straight year, American300 working with Wrangler and PRCA ProRodeo will showcase service members on the final nights performance as part of the evenings themed 'Wrangler National Patriot Night'.  While the evening is dedicated to the effort that Wrangler put forward 4 years ago to raise funds and awareness for our fallen and wounded service members, it is also a special night for Senior Master Sergeant Doug Simmons and Gunnery Sergeant Andrew Balcunas.  The Air Force and Marine Corps non-commissioned officers will be special guests as part of a reunion program.

"During our first American300 Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Troop back in 2010 we came up with the idea of inviting a few service members that our Cowboys and Cowgirls met while on tour to come to the WranglerNFR," said Jeff Chadwick, Director of Wrangler's western events "We just wish that we could fly in the thousands that we meet each year, but turning the spotlight on a few on behalf of all is the next best thing."

No Federal Endorsement of Sponsors or Nonprofit Implied or Intended. American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 NGO/PVO, working to increase the resiliency of our Armed Forces.  American300 volunteers and veterans:  John Bates and Robi Powers will be serving as liaisons for our service members during this engagement with the PRCA WranglerNFR.

Follow the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at:  www.prorodeo.com

For more on American300 visit:  www.American300.org

Media requests can be directed to Rob Powers - robpowersusa@aol.com  or JB Pearl Harbor Hickam AF PAO or USMC MWTC PAO.

Senior Master Sergeant Doug Simmons, USAF and Gunnery Sergeant Andrew Balcunas, USMC join
3x World Champion Kaycee Feild and GAC TV Hosts during final round of WranglerNFR

Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon has Troops Run First Again!

American300 Public Affairs-
LTC Strange, US Army Garrison Hohenfels Commander
and Garrison Runners Shout Out to Philly Runners - 2012 
(HOHENFELS GERMANY) November 6, 2013 — For the fifth time, a Philadelphia Marathon - affiliated race will take place outside of the city, as U.S. troops participate in a remote race in Germany in a special goodwill kickoff initiative for the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon. 

“We are tremendously proud of this longstanding and heartfelt connection to the courageous men and women who have placed their lives in military service to preserve and protect our precious freedoms.” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, adding “We’ll show that pride during the Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, November 15-17, when nearly 30,000 runners and friends and family have the opportunity to see and hear greetings recorded during the Fifth Annual First Wave Race in Hohenfels.” 

Like many nationally recognized marathons, the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon sends official race supplies to military members serving overseas so that they too can participate from afar.  What continues to make this kickoff race unique is that T-shirts, race bibs and awards aren’t the only items headed to Germany... the cities marathon announcer travels with the materials. 

USAG Hohenfels Philadelphia First Wave - 2012
Nationally known Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon race announcer Rob Powers, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado has worked with the Mayor’s Office to bridge the gap in distance between Philadelphia and US Army Garrison Hohenfels each year. 

“Bringing the love and appreciation of the City to the Troops in Germany has become a Veterans Day tradition for me,” says Powers, a veteran himself, who founded the nonprofit American300 Tours. “It’s an honor to work with Mayor Nutter and the cities representatives to put the troops first each year. Five years ago nobody knew we had a base in Hohenfels Germany... now on any given Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon race day thousands cheer for the troops there... it’s pretty special.” 

To follow the event in Germany please visit: www.American300.org and social media at: www.facebook.com/thewarriortours  

World Champion Horseman Visit Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center

Undisclosed Area of Operation -   ‘Bob’ had been traveling with the locals through some gnarly terrain.  The canyons and high mountain passes the group was moving through reminded him of the Rocky Mountains back in his home state of Colorado.  The problem for ‘Bob’ was that four legs were moving him instead of two... the locals had horses and horses were the preferred means of transportation... ‘Bob’ didn’t know anything about horses.  

Not willing to miss the opportunity to embed with these ‘friendlies’ and move to a known area of interest with them, ‘Bob’ had surmised that he could figure out the whole bareback horse riding gig on the fly... in his line of service adapting was paramount.  Now high above the valley floor on a trail that looked as though it had been chiseled out of a cliff his nerves were frayed.  He was so focused on his horse and not falling off that his operational awareness was slim to none. 

The United States Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center has launched a new program to ensure that ‘Bob’ and operators like him have the tools necessary to utilize one of the most popular means of transportation in austere environs around the world... the horse.   As a result, the training center has now gone fully operational with a new 'Special Operations Horsemanship' program.

This week American300, a non-government organization which brings unique volunteers to bases around the world visited the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center for the 3rd time.  “We have a unique relationship with the Wrangler Corporation and the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s top horseman,” says Rob Powers, founder of the all volunteer nonprofit “When we found out about the Animal Packers and Special Operations Horsemanship courses we approach Colonel Carroll and Sergeant Major Kirkland of the MWTC and asked if we could lend a hand with some volunteer subject matter experts to work with the cadre.” 

The response by program manager Tony Parkurst, a retired USMC Master Sergeant was to open the barn doors to American300's cowboys.  Cowboys, like Hall of Fame World Champions Lewis Feild and John Jones Jr. who spent a week with the Packer and Special Operations Horsemanship Cadre in July. 

This week, the nonprofit brought world champion mounted shooter, Annie Ellett of Cave Creek Arizona to the base. “I’ve traveled with American300 to Iraq and Afghanistan three times... we flew over so many remote villages where horses and pack animals were the means of transporting supplies and people... I think this new special operations course is going to offer the right stuff to our service members.” 

After spending 5 hours in the saddle with cadre moving through the mountains surrounding the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Ellett added " it’s like God recreated Afghanistan and that region of the world's mountains right here in the Sierra Nevada’s and we have cadre that can teach folks how to negotiate through it on horseback... that’s as good as it gets.”

While American300 guests have very strong resiliency resume’s,  providing subject matter experts wasn’t what turned Powers and the nonprofit onto the base initially  “The Marine cadre members and support staff here are located off the beaten path and their training schedules are non-stop. At first we just wanted to bring the cadre and support team members some unique visitors, brighten their day with appreciation and some resiliency messaging which is our trademark programming.” says Powers “but with the Special Operations Horsemanship program going on line and our access to some of the best horsemen in the world through the Wrangler Corporation and their Wrangler National Patriot program we’re happy to be helping in new ways.”   

Helping make it so that ‘Bob’ and others like him will feel comfortable moving around in austere environments on horseback's of the future. 

American300 can be found on the web at:  www.American300.org

For more information on the USMC MWTC visit:  www.mwtc.usmc.mil