Texas and New Mexico Events in April

Dallas Texas and White Sands New Mexico -  American300 Tours spread it's teams out this month with two amazing events.   Thanks to Justin Frazell and 95.9 Ranch Radio along with Texas Red Dirt Roads Television and the Dallas Mavericks' President Donnie Nelson, Robi Powers was able to join up with fellow American300 Warrior Ray Johnston for the Dallas Mavericks Military Appreciation Day.

Along the way Robi connected with Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris, another wounded warrior American300 Tours volunteer and connected with Bart Crow, another singer/songwriting former Army 3rd Infantry Division veteran.   Special Thanks to host Justin Frazell and Donnie Nelson for the amazing hospitality and showcasing of our Service Members - Bravo Zulu to All!

While Powers was in Dallas, Graham Muir of Manic Training was pulling together the Troops for our first sponsored effort in New Mexico.   Our friends at Cheyenne Mountain were in need of some help and American300 was able to come through thanks to John Centner of Steamboat Motors and Graham Muir and the guys from Manic Training.    We're sponsoring 2 individual USAF/721MSG efforts and the USAF/American300/Manic Training HEAVY Teams effort.  

We'll freshen up this posting with results and quotes from the Bataan Memorial Death March participants once they get back to Colorado.   In the mean time share a prayer with them.. it's one heck of an event so steeped in honor and remembrance.

Never Quit - Minot Air Force Base 2015

Minot Air Force Base -  When the equipment case slammed down on top of Cavalry Scout Trooper Patrick MacDonald it was like adding insult to injury.  The 113 Armored Personnel Carrier he was coming down off the DMZ in had already started sliding down the South Korean mountain people were going to get hurt. 

The huge equipment case was just the icing on the cake, weighing well over five hundred pounds it slammed into  Patrick's chest.  In the end it drove it’s punishment into his chest cavity and broke the Cav Scout’s back and severed his spinal cord.

U.S. Army Sergeant Patrick MacDonald was paralyized and dying from internal injuries. 

Over the past decade the Department of Defense has spent tremendous time, energy and resources on the subject of resiliency.  

For Patrick MacDonald and family, rebounded from the near life ending injury to re-starting life with a wheelchair, the realities of resiliency in the military don't get more real.   

When Erin Nemec qualified for the Olympic Winter Games in Snowboarding’s BorderCross event she was already a ESPN Winter XGames star with medals to go prove it.   

The problem was she didn’t really know her Olympic Team teammates.  After laying down fantastic Olympic qualification runs, Erin was the focus of the Canadian Snowboarding program... it looked like Canada might bring home a medal.   

The attention she received didn’t sit all that well with Erin’s ‘teammates’ who for years had been the standout athletes on the team.  Instead of being a part of a team, Erin found herself an outsider.  Instead of congratulations, she was ignored... instead of being welcomed she was blindsided.  

When the Olympic Games were over, Erin had posted her worst international result, but she’d learned something in the process... just because you’re named to a team doesn’t mean you’re on a team.

Luckily, Erin had Kevin a renowned coach and devoted husband.  She also had a team that would gladly take her in after the Olympics... Erin became a defacto member of the US Team. 

“They were just truly supportive, they could count on me to have their back and I theirs... to me it just felt like the kind of team I should have been on up in Canada.” said Erin over the phone while getting ready for the trip to Minot, North Dakota, adding, “I’m stoked Cactus (nickname for her husband Kevin) is coming on this American300 Never Quit Tour, he tells the story of what I went through in Torino much better then I do.” 

American300 has brought valued guests like these to Minot Air Force Base well over a dozen times over the past 3 years.  All in an effort to support the Air Force Fit program which focuses on comprehensive Airmen wellbeing and personal and family development.  “We’ve shared some amazing life stories with these Airmen over the years,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300 he adds, “Erin and Cactus‘ life story is so different from Patrick’s, but together and combined with dozens of other guests that have traveled to Minot, it all makes for a compelling and lasting message.”

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

American300 is a volunteer nonprofit 501c3 with a mission of increasing the resiliency capabilities of today's Armed Forces Members.   No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied - American300.org 

Former Navy SEAL Visits USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center

American300 Public Affairs - March 1, 2015 
Pickel Meadows California -  There was a time when Dr. Michael Gotchey spent a fair amount of time around Marines, but that was back when the Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine wore something other then Wrangler jeans and Cowboy boots to work.  

As a United States Navy UDT 12 and SEAL Team 1 member, Doc Gotchey operated in and around all branches of service.  After the Vietnam War, the Sailor left the Navy to pursue a career as a Veterinarian.  Now 40 plus years later the Navy SEAL is reuniting with a program that is close to his heart. 

Since the Korean war, the United States Marine Corps has lead from the front, ensuring that all branches of service know how to operate in compartmentalized terrain.   Whether that be operating in the mountains of Afghanistan or mountainous jungles of the Pacific, the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center ( MWTC ) has provided the necessary training to Troops of all service branches for over 60 years.   

When operations call for movement in some of the ruggedest terrain on earth, there’s a high probability that Troops who have gone through one or more of the courses that the MWTC has to offer, are involved. 

So how do you move equipment and personnel in areas where roads aren’t established and aviation assets can’t be deployed?  The answer is simple, on foot... or in the case of one of the MWTC’s newest programs... on hoof. 

“I’ve been a supporter of American300 programming for years, so when my friend Rob (Powers) asked if I’d like to visit the MWTC and learn about one of their newest courses (Special Operations Horsemanship Program), I was like: when do we go,” says, Dr. Gotchey, who for years has served as a board member of the American Association of Veterinarian State Boards and Colorado’s State Board of Veterinarian Medicine. 

While the vast majority of American300.org programming is focused on Service Member resiliency teachings with units and bases all over the world, the nonprofit has been involved in supporting the MWTC’s cadre with subject matter experts on a wide array of topics for several years.  “We have a number of volunteers like Doc Gotchey, who are subject matter experts in areas that surround core instruction at the training center,” says Robi Powers the founder of American300 who himself was a cadre member of the US Army’s Mountain Warfare program back in the early 80’s, adding, “What our guests bring to the table isn’t something we discuss, but talking about the MWTC and the amazing Cadre of Instructors and support staff who serve our nation in this remote part of the eastern Sierra Nevada is too easy... they are amazing.” 

For more on American300 visit:  www.American300.org 

For more on the USMC MWTC visit: www.usmc.com 

American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied - American300.org 

Music, Medals and Mentors… on top of the world

THULE AIR FORCE BASE GREENLAND -  Days ago, the sun tipped the horizon for a matter of seconds here.  For those lucky enough to be on top of the 12th Space Warning System facility miles from the main base, the sight of the pin dot of light was very special.   This week the entire United States Air Base’s staff will be getting a glimpse of the sun as it returns to what has been a very dark and cold environment over the past six months. 

While the arrival of sun to this remote outpost will have an emotional warming effect for many, the suns effect won’t be felt for months to come.  The average high this week will remain below -20 degrees. 

In an effort to reinforce core values and raise spirits while celebrating the arrival of light, American300 Tours and the DoD’s Armed Forces Entertainment office have teamed up to bring some very special guests to those stationed here. 

“Last year we brought Olympic medalists up and put on our own ‘games’ while the Winter Olympics were taking place in sunny and warm Sochi, Russia,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, “This year we have two singer/songwriters, who also happen to be wounded warriors and a Olympic medalist spending a week on top of the world with 21st Space Wing Airmen.” he added.

About the guests- 

Nelson Carmichael -  making his first Olympic team was a big deal.  His sport, freestyle mogul skiing had been added to the Calgary Olympics as a demonstration sport and only the world’s top 12 athletes were going to be allowed to compete.  Being one of the best in the world had many predicting that the American would find his way to the podium.   

Two weeks before opening ceremonies, news came to Nelson who was competing in a world cup in Japan, that his father had been killed in an automobile accident back in his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 

Despite the tragedy and turmoil, Nelson competed in the Games.  Instead of finding his way to the podium he finished in last place.   Not one to quit or give up, he continued to compete and four years later made his second Olympic Team.  This time his sport was an official event and the medals were real.  When the results were posted, Nelson found himself standing on the podium to the left of the champion with a bronze instead of gold medal, but the medal was real.  He had become America’s first ever male Olympic freestyle skiing medalist. 
Jen Housholder - For this US Army Chief Warrant Officer, the road to singing and songwriting was more of a therapy device then that of a life long dream.  After two deployments to the middle east flying Blackhawk’s, the LSU graduate found herself a mental mess.  Thoughts of ‘bad things’ that had been parked away deep in her subconscious from childhood had bubbled up and she was inches away from calling it quits on life one afternoon in the middle east.   Music along with an amazing support team brought her back to where today she is fully engaged in life and still serving our country as a US Army Reservist and full-time Technician at Edwards Air Force Base. 
Sal Gonzalez- When the twin towers dropped on September 11th, Sal Gonzalez was still in High School, but he knew on that day that as soon as he was old enough he was going to sign up and enter into service.   A few years later, wearing United States Marine Corps utilities, Sal found himself behind a .50 caliber machine gun providing quick reactionary force protection in Iraq.   After sustaining 6 different direct hits to his armored up humvee Sal and his team were feeling invisible.   On a 7th direct hit things turned upside down.   Sal was knocked unconscious and wouldn’t awake for days only to find out that his Lieutenant had been killed and that his left leg was damaged beyond repair.  
Sal was medically retired with a amputated leg and internal injuries, but he wasn’t so messed up that he couldn’t pick up a guitar and return to his life long passion of producing music.  The fact that he moved to Nashville, TN from his home in East Los Angles, California was cause for some to question what he was doing, but as he puts it: “My teammates were all from the southeast and after several years of listening to their favorite and only music form, I thought I’d give country music a try.”   

Mixing music, medals and personal stories of service and commitment is just one way the nonprofit puts a real life face on DoD resiliency teachings.  With over 100 vetted volunteer guests like these three amazing individuals, American300 Tours are actively engaged with military commands around the world on a monthly basis.  “If it weren’t for Armed Forces Entertainment we’d never be able to visit this place,” says Powers, adding “The cost of the transport plane ride alone is enough for us to conduct 15 additional remote base visits elsewhere... which we’ll do.” 

American300 Tours Never Quit Series is hosted by veteran and Olympic teams coach Robi Powers, who like all of the nonprofits volunteer guests has a resiliency story of his own to share.  For more information on American300 Tours please visit:  www.American300.org

This trip is made possible by the Department of Defense Armed Forces Entertainment office and 21st Space Wing Headquarters.  For more on Armed Forces Entertainment visit: www.armedforcesentertainment.com   

American300 Tours is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit engaged in supporting Department of Defense comprehensive resiliency programs.   No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is intended or implied - American300.org 

American300 Returns to Mountain with 'The Cannon'

Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station -  When you walk through the blast doors located far inside this mountain it’s like stepping into a battleship encased in granite.  Completed in 1966, the fortress can be sealed off from the outside world and sustain life on it’s own for months if necessary. 

Built during the the cold war, the facility remains a command and control center for everything from world wide communications to outer space object detection and tracking.  Like the hundreds of thousands of Armed Forces Service Members performing duties on a daily basis around the world, the mountains systems experts, operators and defenders come from a wide array of service and operational backgrounds.    

This coming week, American300 Tours returns to Cheyenne Mountain with special guest Shannon Ritch, of Prescott, Arizona as part of the nonprofits commitment to the 721st Mission Support Group to support professional leadership and resiliency development programming.  

Ritch, who is known for his MMA fighting career first joined the Army as a Civil Engineer, working primarily on facilities heating and ventilation systems.  After his initial enlistment he separated from service and obtained civilian ratings which eventually placed him on assignment providing personal security for many of our countries top officials in Baghdad, Iraq. 

Throughout his military and contract security years he also managed to build an impressive MMA fighting resume. “ I took on fights for supplemental income at first. In the beginning there were no weight classes in the MMA fighting rings, so I had to fight anyone they put in front of me.” says Ritch, adding,  “I was the smallest kid in school and bullied from an early age. I took those lessons or beatings and turned them into a 24 year career as a world champion MMA fighter.”

This past week Ritch, announced his retirement form MMA cage fighting after a heavy weight battle with Shonie Carter, in Phoenix, Arizona on the eve of Super Bowl 49.  “It was time to call it... to tap out as a fighter and focus my energies on my role as a coach and trainer of the next generation of MMA fighters,” said Shannon to members of the media who had crowded around him after the fight at the Phoenix Zoo. 

“Shannon is one of those rare individuals who just doesn’t know the word quit, he’s fought more battles then just about anyone in MMA history,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300 Tours and host of the ‘Service with Honor Never Quit Series', adding “We spent Super Bowl Sunday inside the mountain with a Everest expedition leader whose job it is to make sure folks don’t quit on the side of the world’s tallest mountains and now we’re coming back with ‘the Cannon’ who personifies dedication and never quit ethos."

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

For more on Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Ritch visit: www.shannonritch.com 

American300 is a all volunteer nonprofit dedicated to supporting Department of Defense master resiliency programs.  The nonprofit conducts resiliency visits with valued guests who engage and embed in units over the span of several years on a quarterly basis. No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is ever intended or implied - American300.org 

Everest Expedition Leader Meets Mountain Defenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wounded Marine… follow your dreams and be normal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STARS and SCARS… American300 Mentor Shares with Wounded Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For information on STARS visit:  www.steamboatstars.com 


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

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

There was no need to say it twice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more on American300 visit: www.American300.org 

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

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

The Colonels Kick Off 2015 Service with Honor Tours

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

Coasties Recognized at Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nonprofit Facebook is located at:  American300 Tours 

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

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

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Robert Powers

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

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

Astronauts Blast Off to Middle East

By American300 Public Affairs - Mike Lane 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manic in the Mountain - Athletes and Coaches Focus on Defenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olympic Gold Medalist Visits USCG Sector Delaware Bay - Philadelphia Teams

By Mike Lane - American300 Public Affairs 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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