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.

Warriors and Patriots Visit Air Base During Patriot Day Week

American300 Public Affairs   9/11/14

Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City LA -  As part of an ongoing effort to increase the resiliency of today’s Airmen, American300 returned to this Air Force Global Strike Command Base this week of observance and remembrance to work with Airmen.

Under the theme of ‘Service with Honor’, American300.org volunteers: Terry Schappert and Mykel Hawke, both combat veteran Green Berets along with Veteran’s Advocate Doctor Grace Galloway and her husband, decorated combat journalist Joe Galloway and retired Major General Ed Mechenbier, USAF a Vietnam P.O.W. shared personal stories of overcoming adversity and the importance of wingmen/battle buddies.

“I’ve spent more time with infantrymen in combat then most infantrymen,” chuckled Joe Galloway, a Bronze Star with Valor device recipient who has covered countless wars over the past  44 plus years.  “It all comes down to who’s on your left and on your right... or in my case a size 12 combat boot worn by a Sergeant Major.”  he added, taking a group of Airmen from the 2nd Bomb Wing, back in time to LZ XRAY just northwest of Plei Me in southern Vietnam, where Sergeant Major Basil L. Plumley, uttered the famous words “You can’t take no pictures laying down there on the ground, Sonny.”  during the Battle of la Drang which was later made famous by the book he co-authored with Lt. General Hal Moore and Hollywood movie ‘We Were Soldiers’.  


For five days the group of Warriors and Patriots shared stories and advice with Airmen. Putting a real life face on so many of the learning modules surrounding comprehensive airmen fitness... i.e. resiliency training. 

From the jungles of Vietnam and South America to the high plans of northern Africa, and Sandstorms of Iraq (to mention only a few AOR's), the group reflected on the connectedness needed in battle and at home.  


“...what it really comes down to is the four letter word... LOVE,” reflected Master SergeantTerry Schappert, a career Special Forces soldier and current Team Master Sergeant with the 19th Special Forces Group out of Rhode Island, “I continue to do what I do because I love our country, our military and most importantly my Brothers... I just can’t give up on any one of them ever.” 

While each guest had a unique personal life story to share, collectively they exhibited commonality.  Themes of: Connectedness, Loyalty, Hope and Joy all the result of not giving up on your fellow American Warrior resonated throughout the group. 

“We came home despite the years of torture and confinement because we believed in each other... after the years started to slip by we collectively chose to break things down to one simple concept: ‘Return with Honor’ and thanks to great wingmen and battle buddies we did exactly that, says Major General Ed Mechenbier, adding “The military will always have manuals and modules on how to do things, but when it comes to resiliency training there’s no better procedures manual then fellow service members, family members and friends.  All we’re doing with these American300 Tours is reminding Troops that resiliency comes from within and most often times with a ton of help from a friend…" 

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

For more information on our 'Service with Honor' guests involved with visiting Barksdale Air Force Base during Patriot Day week please utilize web search engines… their reference sites are simply countless. 

American300 is a NGO/AVO 501c3 organization with a mission of supporting the DoD and DoS with subject matter expert interactions.   No federal endorsement is ever implied or intended - American300.org 






Faces of Resiliency - Wounded Warriors Visit Air Base


American300 Public Affairs - 9/8/14

Minot Air Force Base, ND-  When Jen Housholder, was very young she faced abusive trauma that no child let alone women or man should ever have to deal with.  After boxing up the bad and pushing it behind her, she moved on in life and eventually graduated from college and LSU’s ROTC program.  

As a UH60 Black Hawk pilot flying over roof tops in Iraq, she found that the past has a way of catching up with you. Life memories that were nothing more then specks in the rearview mirror could turn into cracks in life’s windshield. 

After her second deployment to the middle east, Housholder was facing a train wreck, the demons of the past were invading her every waking and sleeping moments. 

Inside his rolling up armored humvee, Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris made sure that his driver, two riflemen and turret gunner were switched on.  As Cavalry Scouts they’d been assigned to check out a reported IED finding a few miles up the road.  

Being the third vehicle in the response element, Harris watched as his driver followed standard operating procedures, there was no way his vehicles tires were leaving marks created by the vehicle in front of them. The reason was all around them, the route was littered with holes from previous IED explosions. 

The technique was drilled into every driver and his driver was negotiating the crater strewn road perfectly.  Against a pressure switch this movement technique had saved countless lives, but was useless against a manually triggered 'remote det.' IED.  All Harris, and his team could hope for was that there were no IED’s buried beneath them. 

Without warning Harris’ team was blown up, the result of someone flipping a switch, crossing some wires or dialing into a triggering device from a mobile phone.  

With the effects of 700 plus pounds of explosive ordinance evident all around him, Harris was stuck inside his vehicle burning alive.  

Months later, the Texan would awaken and face the tragic news that 3 of his teammates were gone and that his driver was in the same charred state of ruin that he faced literally. 

Chief Warrant Officer Housholder and Staff Sergeant Harris, great American's with amazing families and friends all faced the same uphill battle: Overcome through healing and adaptation or allow our country to loose two more great Service Members to: depression, PTSD and potentially suicide.  

After walking and running around Air Force Global Strike Command's Minot Air Force Base for a week, it was evident to all who met the two and American300's founder Robi Powers, that post-traumatic growth and true teamwork had won out in the end.  

“I’ve spent so much time in our VA Hospitals talking with my fellow wounded warriors, but this trip to Minot has been about sharing stories of recovery and growth with the world’s nuclear weapons deterrence team,” says Harris, a new comer to the nonprofit’s line up of all volunteer mentors, adding, “sure life threw my family along with Jen’s a major curveball, but we learned how to hit the curve and thanks to American300 have an opportunity to teach others how to do it too." 

To learn more about these two amazing wounded warriors please visit:
www.HOUS-BAND.com 
www.SHILOHARRIS.com   * Make sure and check out his new book 'STEEL WILL' 

American300 provides resiliency programming in support of the Department of Defense Service Branches on a monthly basis all over the world.   The nonprofit is a 501c3 NGO/AVO.  No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is intended or implied - American300.org 

For more on American300 visit:  www.American300.org

For more information on Minot Air Force Base go to:  www.minot.af.mil 

Astronaut Reconnects with Fellow Airmen

By Mike Lane, American300 Public Affairs, 8/15/14 

Grand Forks, North Dakota -  Hollywood blockbuster ‘Gravity’ starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney cast a bright light on the International Space Station (ISS).  Complete with never ending jetpack propulsion, Olympic style vaulting from module to module and even fire extinguisher propelled maneuvers, viewers come away from the film with a real sense of micro gravity travel and the dangers of space debris. 

For NASA Astronaut and Air Force Colonel Mike Hopkins, the timing of the film’s release couldn’t have been more appropriate.  He viewed the film while aboard the ISS circling earth at seventeen thousand miles per hour this past winter. 

Now back on terra firma, the Air Force Astronaut is dedicating time and energy in sharing his NASA and ISS experience.  

“As an active duty Air Force Astronaut for the past five years, I’ve been a little out of touch with my fellow Airmen.  This tour has given me an opportunity to reconnect with them.  I’ve had the privilege of sharing my story and the incredible experience of flying in space while also hearing about the amazing job Air Force personnel are doing in isolated and remote locations right here at home,” said Colonel Hopkins.  “American300 has made this tour about connecting me with Service Members who do the necessary behind the scenes work our nation depends on.  From security forces defenders to maintainers and operators of our radar, communications, data and aircraft systems these folks are keeping our teams on the ISS safe while at the same time defending our country and it’s allies,” added Hopkins.

With stops at Cheyenne Mountain and Cavalier Air Force Stations along with Grand Forks Air Force Base, Hopkins and American300 founder Robi Powers have moved through workspaces and met Airmen across Colorado and North Dakota this week. 

“It’s a personnel support concept we’ve been implementing for years now, by putting amazing mentors with units in support of our armed forces comprehensive service member fitness programs,” says Powers who along with a team of volunteers conduct several dozen of these tours per year.

As for space debris avoidance maneuvering, Colonel Hopkins adds, “We use Air Force Space Command tracking capabilities to maneuver the ISS out of harm’s way several times a year and to be afforded the opportunity to personally thank them for the work they do in protecting Astronauts and ISS missions is very special to me.”

If all goes as planned, Colonel Hopkins with join the current commander of the ISS, NASA Astronaut Steve Swanson on another military base tour later this year upon Swanson’s return to earth. 

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

To follow NASA visit: www.nasa.gov

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


Service with Honor Tour Visits Coast Guard

United States Coast Guard Stations San Francisco-   This past week Army Warrant Officer Jennifer Housholder visited Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco and Station Golden Gate.   As a part of the American300 Service with Honor series, the Warrant Officer shared her personal resiliency rich life story with coasties.   Not from a lectern, but instead up close and personal in the work place.  

"We're blessed to have commands that understand our logic and style of message delivery, the Coast Guard in particular really allows us to bring a guest on deck and have them simply embed with the various duty teams," says Robi Powers, the founder of the program, adding, "our volunteer guests have amazing life experiences that are best served up in a close connected setting."

Whether wounded in combat or training, having overcome disease or having suffered through years of internment the goal of the Service with Honor program is to allow for connectedness and hope to register in the hearts of those who come in contact with the program's guests.  The program also works to deliver guests who service members can relate to, learn from and share with.  

Warrant Officer Housholder, while on her first American300 tour is no stranger to talking about resiliency within the DoD.  She went through formal Master Resiliency Training with the Air Force several years ago and applies a mix of professional learning and personal experience with her message to troops. 

While lecture hall gatherings, power point presentations and computer based training have there place in educating and informing, American300 believes that a balance needs to be in place.  "With the right guest a day spent sharing experience can be more beneficial to a service member then hundreds of hours of computer based resiliency training," says Powers adding, "Warrant Officer Housholder did a fantastic job of keeping it real with the Coasties, based on their feedback we know her message and personal story of overcoming adversity had a profound impact on many and that's our number one goal."

American300, is quick to point out that today's military messaging on resiliency is spot on.

The nonprofit has researched and reviewed thousands of pages of DoD educational materials involved with resiliency training.  The direct result was the creation of this new series of special guest tours says Powers: "We have always brought guests to bases to allow for personal growth through connectedness.   The Service with Honor themed series is simply a natural progression towards bringing guests that are uniquely relevant to our service members. Not everyone is going to become a Wounded Warrior or Prisoner of War, but every Service Member I've ever run into will drop what they're doing to listen to a fellow Service Member that has lived through these types of experiences… and that allows the door to learning and growth to be blown wide open." 

For more on American300 visit:  www.American300.org

American300 is a all volunteer nonprofit dedicated to raising the resiliency of our Service Members, their Families and the Areas of Operation they live in around the world.  No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is ever intended or implied - American300.org 


World Champions Timeout For Marines on July 4th

American300 Public Affairs-
Bridgeport, California - For over 150 years Bridgeport, has hosted one of the best small town nation's birthday celebrations in the country.   In this rural golden state town where cows outnumber people, July 4th traditions include everything from pancake breakfasts to a 6 block spectator lined main street parade.

Since 1951, the towns parade has featured Marines and their families, the result of the Department of Defense constructing our only Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center just 20 minutes north of town.

For Rodeo World Champions Lewis Feild, John Jones Jr and Super Bowl Champion Bear Pascoe, who is also a Wrangler 20x Cowboy,  along with United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Jenna Smeenk, a Miss Rodeo USA Florida, our nation's birthday is providing an opportunity to assist our countries only military special operations equestrian program.

Born out of the Marine Animal Packers program which has been around for decades at the training center, the Marines implemented a speciality horsemanship course several years ago.  The goal of the new program: to provide our special operations community of warriors the opportunity to familiarize and excel in horsemanship.  While visions of mounted calvary can easily come to mind, the new program couldn't be farther from these thoughts.  Instead service members are taught the basics of equestrian knowledge and then trained in all forms of terrain movement while on horseback.  "We want service members who come through this program to not only understand the ins and outs of horsemanship, but we want them to be able to ride in all types of terrain and look natural doing it." says Tony Parkhurst, a retired Marine Master Sergeant who serves as the manager of the program for the Marine Corps.

With only a few hundred acres of actual Department of Defense designated property, the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center relies on public lands to fulfill it's training mission and this in part is why these celebrity Cowboys and Cowgirls are visiting over the 4th of July.

 "We bring guests to the Mountain Training Center 3-4 times per year, usually with a focus on subject matter expert interactions surrounding the Marines core training programs," says Robi Powers of American300 adding, "Last year while visiting the center with world champion hall of fame cowboys we realized that Bridgeport is a major cattle town, so we reached out to one of the premier livestock companies and asked if we could bring Marines, Cowboys and Cattlemen together to strengthen the training centers community relations."

The result was a relationship created between American300, the Marines and the Centennial Livestock Company.  "We love having the Marines on our ranch, they're always welcome," says Marcus Bunn, the manager for the Lacey and Wood Family owned Centennial Livestock Company, he adds "last year Robi and American300 guests visited us with Marines on several occasions, this year he has brought back Lewis and John along with Super Bowl Champion Bear Pascoe and a Miss Rodeo USA. They're going to be bringing Marines down to the ranch and participating in our annual Bridgeport Centennial Livestock Ranch Rodeo… the town is jacked up to meet these guys."

With designated time for the expert horsemen to spend time with Special Operations Horsemanship and Animal Packing Cadre members as well as two days worth of community interaction this years 'Wrangler American Mountain Cowboy Tour' is sure to be a total success.

"We've never had a Super Bowl Champion compete in our Ranch Rodeo, let alone take time out to play catch with the kids in town," says Marcus Bunn adding "This town loves the United States Marine Corps and all of our Services, but having American300 bring these guys in to help out our Marines and show such tremendous support to our town for supporting them is very special."

For more information on American300 visit: www.american300.org

For more on the USMC MWTC visit: www.29palms.marines.mil/mcmwtc/UnitHome.aspx

American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of increasing our Armed Forces resiliency and operations expertise.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied.

USSA Athletes Meet US Army Helicopter Pilot at Rookie Camp

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rookie national team athletes with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) will learn about resilience from a former Army helicopter pilot as part of the Military Mentorship Program, an innovative initiative of the USSA which brings together Olympic hopefuls and members of the U.S. military. On June 19, participating skiers and snowboarders with the rookie team, including two Olympic athletes, will meet at the USSA's Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah with Jen Housholder, a survivor of post-traumatic stress disorder who now works as a resilience trainer.
"In recent years, the U.S. military has done groundbreaking work in the field of resilience training," said Luke Bodensteiner, executive vice president of athletics for the USSA. "But these concepts don't just apply to the battlefield. As our athletes prepare themselves for years of rigorous emotional and physical training, we hope they can learn from the insights of service members who've worked in the field."
Sponsored by PenFed (Pentagon Federal Credit Union), the Military Mentorship Program was founded by Army veteran and former U.S. Ski Team coach Robi Powers. The program has already held several events including a meet-up in Utah with athletes preparing for the Olympic Games in Sochi who spoke with Purple Heart recipients one-on-one, as well as a meet-up at a military base in Louisiana where service members collaborated with Olympic and Paralympic athletes. 
A certified Master Resilience Trainer, Housholder currently works as a civilian flight tester at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. In her off hours, she is the lead singer of Hous Band, performing original songs in venues such as the House of Blues about the challenges facing members of the military as they return to civilian life among other topics.
"Our nation's defenders and our top athletes both know that their biggest obstacles lie within," said James Schenck, PenFed president and CEO, and proud sponsor of the first ever Military Mentorship Program. "Whether trying to successfully complete a combat mission or win a gold medal, learning to be resilient in the midst of high-stress situations can mean the difference between success and failure."  
About the Military Mentorship Program
Founded by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in 2013, the Military Mentorship Program brings military personnel and elite athletes together to exchange and create meaningful experiences. The effort will take U.S. Olympic athletes to military bases nationwide and around the world and bring retired and active-duty U.S. military personnel, including officers, to the USSA Olympic training sites. The program will enable both athletes and military personnel to mutually benefit from each other. To learn more visit: http://ussa.org/military-mentorship-program 

About 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. To learn more about USSA visit: www.ussa.org 

Striving for Excellence in Life - Olympians perspective shared with Airmen

Barksdale Air Force Base-  US Ski Team three-time Olympian Emily Cook has traveled the world for decades competing on her sports highest stage.  After her third Olympic Games performance in Sochi, Russia the veteran freestyle aerials champion announced her retirement from the US Ski Team’s National Team and assumed a position on the team’s board of directors.  In announcing her retirement, Cook opened the door for the next generation of champions who have watched her image splashed across television sets and used in the ski team’s visual marketing campaigns for nearly twenty years.  Seeing new blood come into the sport is very important to Cook, who at age two lost her mother to a drunk driving accident. She was raised by her single father. “I was a wild child and he had his hands full... I owe him so much.” she shared with the Airmen. 

Until this past year, helping fellow USSA athletes get motivated and stay focused was the sole responsibility of the team’s coaching and support staff members who along with each athletes circle of family and friends would design individual programs to make individual athletes the strongest team players possible. 

All that changed this past winter when the USSA announced a whole new program designed around helping not only their team, but the largest team in the country... our United States Armed Forces.  

Called the USSA Military Mentorship Program presented by PenFed, and a mission of connecting our nations top athletes with the world’s greatest military, the USSA MMP has Olympians like Emily Cook traveling to bases all over the world with American300 a Veteran run nonprofit that specializes in resiliency programming. Once on bases,  athletes and service members connect in workspaces and get to know each other, learn from each other... far from the confines of a classroom or lecture hall the program is built around connectedness... power point and computer based learning isn’t allowed. With a relaxed and comfortable approach and led by military veterans who volunteer to host the olympians on base visits, service members and athletes are slowing things down and talking, sharing and enjoying each others company.

“So much of what goes into making an Olympic Team is based on duty, sacrifice and commitment to excellence,” says Jesse Stewart, a retired US Army Ranger wounded warrior who sits on the board of directors of American300, he adds “As service  members we are required to take countless online classes and attend lectures and briefings on professional development, these visits represent a means of putting a real life face on much of what is being taught within the DoD and more importantly igniting a passion for our service members to pay closer attention to the online learning requirements, have it all mean more.” 

Emily Cook agrees:  “Our military members are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met, just look at what we as a nation have asked them to do over the past two decades alone, but the stress of always being perfect, always striving for excellence can take it’s toll on anyone. This program is about sharing lessons learned from people who have been there and can relate completely to one another’s struggles. Both the athletes and service members end up better for the experiences shared.” 

In 2011, after winning an Olympic silver medal in Vancouver, one of Cook’s closest friends and teammates committed suicide.  “We had worked through many scary moments with Speedy ( Jeret Peterson ) and he was actually doing so much better going into the Vancouver Games, but after the Games when he announced his retirement things started to slip again. I can’t stress the importance of talking about mental illness no matter what the trigger and sticking together as a team as much as possible - it’s about caring for one another as much as possible.” says Cook. 

In Peterson’s case, like that of a Barksdale Air Force Base Airmen who killed himself just days before American300 arrived on base with Cook and Paralympic Curling Captain Patrick McDonald, a Army Wounded Warrior who shares an amazing life history of never quitting, the outcome was the same.

“Speedy had reached out to us on several occasions and we’d managed to keep him from doing the unthinkable, but this one time he didn’t reach out and we couldn’t stop him. If there’s one take away that we all live with, it’s that we have to constantly take care of one another and get over the stigma associated with mental illness.” 

About American300 Tours - Visits to Barksdale AFB are sponsored by Air Force Global Strike Command and the 2nd Bomb Wing.  The nonprofit is also engaged with several other Major Commands throughout the DoD and Homeland Security and works regularly to support the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment Office of the DoD. American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied - American300.org

For more information about American300 Tours visit:  www.American300.org
For more on the USSA MMP visit: www.ussa.org/military-mentorship-program
For more on Air Force Global Strike Command: www.afgsc.af.mil 

Never Quit Series Makes Final Stop at 307th Bomb Wing

Story and Photos By Master Sgt. Greg Steele, 307th Bomb Wing
(BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE) - Resiliency is defined as the ability to recover, and whether physically or emotionally, we all experience times of hardship. In recognition of the challenges faced daily by the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, the American300 Tours was formed.
As part of the American300 Tour 'Never Quit Series', members of the 307th Bomb Wing were able to meet a couple of America's top athletes, 4-time Olympic skier Emily Cook and U.S. Paralympic Curling Team captain Patrick McDonald, during their tour of Barksdale Air Force Base, La., June 5, 2014.
"The mission of the American300 Tours is to increase the resiliency of our troops, their families, and the communities that they live and operate in," said Rob Powers, U.S. Army veteran and founder of the American300 Tours. "It's a great opportunity for us to show our appreciation for the dedication and sacrifices made daily by our military members."
The American300 Tours is an all-volunteer organization working in partnership with the Department of Defense to bring new forms of master resiliency programming to service members.
"The tour offers me an opportunity to tell my story and connect with military members who are faced with their own personal struggles, whether they be physical, emotional, or both," said Patrick McDonald. "It's important for them to know we care and are very grateful for their service."
McDonald faced his own personal struggle in 1991, after being involved in an accident while serving with the U.S. Army in South Korea. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, and he credits the support of family and friends for his recovery. Sports also played a key part in his rehabilitation, as he excelled in wheelchair basketball, swimming, golf, and table tennis, which eventually led to him earning a spot on the U.S. Curling Team and competing in the 2010 Paralympics held in Vancouver, Canada.
The Olympians spent two-days on Barksdale, visiting the different commands to talk to Airmen about their experiences and get a hands-on feel for what they do.
"Emily and Patrick are awesome. I've never met an Olympian before," said Senior Airman Trimaine Clemons, 307th Operations Support Flight aircrew flight equipment technician. "For them to come out to our shop and show such an interest and appreciation for what we do really means a lot."
Emily Cook's interest and determination were put to the test when she participated in the repacking of a B-52H Stratofortress drag chute, which is deployed from the tail of the aircraft to help slow it down after landing. The final repack is performed by an Airman jumping up and down on the folded chute to force it down into its container.
"I'm pretty sure I had the technique down, but I just didn't have the weight," said Cook laughingly. "When I met Rob and was told about the American300 Tour, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of."
Cook has been through her own personal struggles. From the death of her mother when she was two years old, to battling an injury after making the 2002 Olympic Ski Team, Cook persevered when she achieved her Olympic dream by competing in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy.
As the American300 Tour came to an end at Barksdale, there was one obstacle yet to be overcome. "I want to climb into the cockpit of a B-52," said McDonald. For him to get into the cockpit, the first step would be the hardest.
With assistance from Powers and aircraft crew chiefs from the 307th and 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons (AMXS), McDonald made it up the hatch and after much determination, into the pilot's seat. "I climb in and out of this aircraft every day, so I know how hard it can be," said Tech. Sgt. David Bailey, 307th AMXS crew chief. "To see Patrick make it all the way into the pilot's seat is an inspiration and one of the coolest things I've been a part of."
The American300 Tour is relentless in its effort to include resiliency in their Themed Tours and then showcase the Troops through partnerships with corporate partners, media connections and great Americans who have connectivity to the same.
"I'm very proud to help connect servicemen and women with the people whose freedom they ensure," said Powers. "Americans honoring America's heroes…it's what we do!"

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