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:  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 - 

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:

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’, 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:

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 - 

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:   * 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 - 

For more on American300 visit:

For more information on Minot Air Force Base go to: 

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:

To follow NASA visit:

American300 is a nonprofit 501c3 non-government/all volunteer organization.  No federal endorsement of the nonprofit or sponsors is ever intended or implied -

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:

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 - 

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:

For more on the USMC MWTC visit:

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: 

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: 

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 -

For more information about American300 Tours visit:
For more on the USSA MMP visit:
For more on Air Force Global Strike Command: 

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: 

World Champion Pulls Off Circuit to Salute Service Members on Week-Long USO/American300 Tour to Alaska

American300 Public Affairs - Story by Mike Lane

For World Champion Bareback Rodeo Cowboy Kaycee Feild, taking his cowboy hat off for our nation’s troops has become a Memorial Day tradition.  The son of Hall of Fame World Champion Cowboy Lewis Feild, a legend in the sport, young Kaycee Feild grew up riding horses in Elk Ridge, Utah - a small ranching community south of Salt Lake City with the goal of following in his father’s boot steps.

Unlike his father, who retired from the pro ranks in 1991, the current world champion isn’t in the Cowboy Hall of Fame, but is certainly headed in that direction.  He just needs to finish up his career first and doesn’t have any intention of stopping soon. Ranked number one in the world as of Memorial Day 2014, the younger Feild has his eyes set on winning his fourth straight world championship title this year. 

“When Wrangler and American300 asked if I’d be willing to pull off the circuit back in 2010 and tour bases saluting our troops throughout the Memorial Day week, I knew it’d cause me to lose some valuable points,” says Feild, who is now married and has a young daughter.  He adds, “Back when we started doing the Wrangler National Patriot Troop Tour, I was just a college national champion so the pressure to put up world championship points wasn’t as great as it is now.”

Now, five years later, Feild just smiles when fans and fellow cowboys talk of his obvious absence from the pro circuit during the last week in May. “I attribute so much of what has gone into winning three straight world championships to the annual Memorial Day Troop Tour that I participate with American300 and now the USO each year.” says Field.  “To spend 10-14 days each year with our nation’s finest is the best mental training a cowboy can have.  Our troops have been and continue to be as much a part of my professional success as my family and friends.” 

With visits to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pacific Command behind him, Feild and fellow USO Wrangler National Patriot Tour members: Annie Bianco Ellett, Maegan Ridley, Lucas Hoge and Jeff Chadwick, are focused on the United States Coast Guard during this year’s tour.

“We’ve spent a lot of time with the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force over the past Memorial Day tours,” says Annie Bianco Ellett, a Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association Hall of Fame World Champion.  “To be able to focus on the Coasties this time really brings the five year experience into perspective. I mean we’re all fives this year; five years visiting troops, five cowboys and cowgirls and five branches of service visited and all equally important to our freedoms.” 

American300 volunteer tour leader John Bates agrees, “putting cowboy hats and boots and the champions that wear them on the decks and docks of the United States Coast Guard is as good as it gets, thanks to the USO and American300 for making it happen this year.”

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USO Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour


Olympic Medalists Visit Joint Base Pearl Harbor - Hickam on USO Tour

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark, three-time Olympic medalist Steven Holcomb and two-time Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht visited Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, May 9, during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour of Oahu.

During the tour, the Olympians went aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) for a meet and greet with the Sailors.

One of the Sailors got to meet her childhood hero and inspiration.

"I've been snowboarding since I was 7 years old," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Danielle Howard. "I've watched Kelly Clark for years and I can't believe I'm meeting her while being in the Navy. I've watched her since I was little and she's probably the reason why I snowboard today."

According to Clark, inspiration and morale is what it's all about.

"I've been inspired, to say the least, and that's really what I hope to achieve in snowboarding," said Clark. "I want to make sure I am inspiring people to be their best. It's amazing to hear that maybe someone would dare to dream and be inspired by what I've done."

American 300 Tours Founder and Managing Director Robi Powers explained a comparable connection between the Olympians and service members.

"Olympians and armed forces members work under the same premises: duty, sacrifice, commitment, honor and integrity, in everything they do," said Powers. "What we have found is that by bringing Olympians out, we're really just bringing individuals from a parallel universe. The time away from home, the commitment to training, the ability to take directions from coaches, is so parallel to what our armed forces do."

After their visit aboard USS Chosin, the Olympians conducted a meet and greet with members of the Air Force and observed demonstrations at the joint-services military working dog kennels.

The Olympians also participated in a Fitness and Wellness Fair at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center. The activities at the fair included a fire truck pull, bench press competition, aerobic workouts, health evaluations and informational booths from various organizations.

The USO plans and creates events around the world designed to lift the spirits of America's troops and their families. A non-profit, congressionally chartered, private organization, the USO relies on individuals, organizations and corporations to support its activities. The USO is not part of the U.S. government, but is recognized by the Department of Defense, Congress and President of the United States, who serves as Honorary Chairman of the USO. 

For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii, visit

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Olympians and Troops…similarities in excellence!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Astronaut Sends Thanks to Air Force Space Command Airmen

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

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

The Mountain Brotherhood… climbers and scout snipers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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