American300 Brings Marines and Community Together

Bridgeport/Pickel Meadows, California -   Established just after the Korean War, the United States Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center has been specializing in mountain movement and operations training of U.S. Armed Forces Members for nearly 65 years.  But unlike most Department of Defense military installations, the vast majority of the training areas used by the USMC MWTC are on open public land. 

Three years ago, American300 started bringing unique subject matter experts to the base to interact with instructors and students.  In that time the training center also brought on line the expansion of their animal packing program to now include the DoD's only special operations horsemanship program. 

"We'd been using champion cowboys and cowgirls in our resiliency programming around the world for years," says Robi Powers, founder of American300 adding, " so it was a natural to start bringing world class cowboys and cowgirls onto the base to assist with subject matter expert exchanges with the Animal Packing and SOF Horsemenship instructors and students." 

Beyond the obvious benefits of instructors being able to pick the brains of professional horsemen, American300 also saw an opportunity to assist the base with it's community outreach.  Three years ago the Marines had American300 guests join in the annual July 4th parade in downtown Bridgeport.  

When the community found out they had Hall of Fame World Champion Cowboys coming to town with the Marines, lightbulbs started going off for Marcus Bunn, manager of Centennial Livestock Company and director of the Bridgeport Ranch Rodeo Series with his wife Kim.   

The Bunn's reached out to Powers and together, working with Tony Parkhurst, the manager of the Marines Animal Programming cooked up a 'Dream Team' entry into the annual Bridgeport Ranch Rodeo, considered by the western industry to be one of the best ranch rodeos in the country. "We have our celebrity cowboys and cowgirls pair up with Marines for a no rules no holds barred approach to the various events," says Powers, adding "While our scores don't count, the reception by the true competitors is nothing but welcoming and over the years some great friendships have been formed." 

Three years later the annual gathering of cowboys, Marines and community has taken root. On July 4th each year, rodeo staff and 'Dream Team' contestants can be seen wearing shirts with American300, Wrangler, Centennial Live Stock  Company Ranch Rodeo Series and Marines stitched onto Wrangler George Straight freshly starched white signature shirts. The community of Bridgeport has also come to see the special guests and their Marine hosts as a stronger part of the overall community fabric. 

What stared out with World Champion Hall of Fame Cowboys: John Jones Jr. and Lewis Feild, has expanded to include, Super Bowl Champion Bear Pascoe and Miss Rodeo Florida, Jenna Smeenk, who is a Staff Sergeant in the USAF.   New this year, Marine Corps Veteran turned Hollywood actor Wilford Brimley will be joining the American300 team. 

With a ranching season cut short due to long winters and our Marines focused on training units preparing to deploy constantly, being able to bring the two groups together annually during our nation's birthday has proven to be key in strengthen the overall relationship between the base and township... and who cares if the World Champions and Marines tweak the rules a little during the rodeo... their being involved is mission accomplishment all by itself.

American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 Nonprofit with a mission of supporting the Department of Defense.  No federal endorsement is implied or intended - American300.org 

The nonprofit conducts resiliency tours worldwide on a monthly basis, focused on making our service members, their families and the communities in which they live and operate in as collectively positive as possible. 




Olympic Gold Medalist... dream big El Salvador

San Salvador - Since 1925, El Salvador has had an Olympic Committee, in 1938 the organization was recognized by the International Olympic Committee and has been competing in the Olympic Games ever since. 

This week, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Dan Beery is traveling to the smallest of the Central American countries to share is Olympic Medal and excite the current stable of athletes and get them to focus on dreaming big.   This will mark the second time that Beery, who now lives just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has traveled away from home in the hopes of igniting the fire from within with up and coming Olympic athletes.  

As part the 'ONETEAM' American300 Envoy program he has also visited Turkmenistan.

Sharing the Olympic Spirit and in this case an Olympic medal is all a part of American300's overall mission to encourage communities to come together and grow together.  "We believe strongly that through dialogue and friendship the world will be a better place," says Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit American300, adding "Dan's road to Olympic stardom wasn't without it's rough edges. Our hope is that the athletes of El Salvador will grow from the experience and realize that they too can achieve the podium someday." 

To date, Olympic podiums have eluded the nation. 

Beery and Powers will be hosted by El Salvador's Olympic Committee President Eduardo Palomo Pacas and staff this week.  The two will visit several teams and participate in the El Salvador Olympic Committee's annual gala as special guests.  "I'm incredibly honored to meet these athletes and Olympic Committee staff members this week, there was a time when if someone had told me I'd be a World and Olympic record holder I would have laughed," says Beery, who now works for an athlete advocate insurance company, adding "with the right dreams and effort anything is possible, I hope that by spending some time with these athletes, coaches and staff I'll be able to show them that anything is possible."

American300 is a NGO/AVO focused on strengthen individuals, families and the communities in which they live and operate.  No federal endorsement is implied or intended.  American300 is a United States nonprofit 501c3 all volunteer organization headquartered at Gries Financial in Cleveland, Ohio.  For more information on American300 please visit:  www.American300.org 





Wounded Warrior Meets Future Olympians

Park City, Utah - When Jesse Stewart graduated from college he received two ‘diplomas’. One was a undergraduate degree, the other a commission in the United States Army as an infantry officer.  With degree and commission in hand, Stewart embarked on a career as one of America’s elite special operators.  After completing parachute, air assault, pathfinder and ranger schools he found himself deployed to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division.  

This wouldn’t be Stewart’s only deployment. 

Years later with a full medical retirement in hand the now wounded warrior works full time in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the Harris Corporation. 

At this years upcoming United States Ski, Snowboard and Freeskiing Rookie Camp, the retired wounded warrior will be sharing his life experiences with the hopes that our future Olympians will grow in a positive manner from the overall exchange and experience.  

“This will be our 3rd year bringing combat wounded warriors to the USSA Rookie Camp,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, the organization that has partnered to help facilitate these unique exchanges, adding “The USSA’s core values are nearly identical to those of our US Armed Forces, and bringing in warriors who can share their life stories only helps reinforce with the ski teams new comers that duty, sacrifice and commitment are more then just words on a poster.” 

In return, the USSA has worked with American300 over the past 7 years to encourage national team athletes to make themselves available to the nonprofit for Athlete to Military Base interactions.  To date over a dozen such exchanges have taken place at locations that range from the middle east to the north pole and bases right here at home. 

Bringing world class individuals together to exchange information and experiences provides the framework for what has proven to make this program so successful in the eyes of both USSA and Military officials to date.  “I’m really looking forward to meeting tomorrow’s Olympians,” says Stewart, adding “These athletes personify everything that my fellow warriors and I have sacrificed so much for over the years, I just wish I had 14 of my men still alive... they would have gotten a kick out of seeing the old man trying to keep up with these guys.” 

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

To learn more about USSA visit:  www.usskiteam.com  

American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 organization with a mission of supporting the Department of Defense and Department of State.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org

With Ray Johnston There Are No Bad Days!

American300 Public Affairs - This week the American300 Never Quit Series returns to the home of our 8th Air Force, 2nd Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command Headquarters with country music singer/songwriter Ray Johnston.  To get a better idea who Ray is we’ve shared this fantastic story written by Bill Kelly for CancerForward.org 

Story by Bill Kelly 
Ray Johnston made the NBA, beat leukemia and formed a group,  The Ray Johnston Band. Curing cancer and getting a date with Jennifer Aniston are next on his list. Don’t bet against him.  He’s a modern Odysseus whose talents and determination have taken him from an undrafted signee with the Dallas Mavericks to lying in a hospital bed in a four-month coma, and finally landing center stage at a rock concert. His journey has been documented in an HDNet television series and marveled by reporters and supporters alike.

It would be generous to say there are long odds attached to an undrafted player making an NBA roster. Practically, the chances are those of a Mega-Million lottery. After playing in only two college games while at the University of Alabama, Ray couldn’t make the developmental league. “Rightly so,” he says.  Johnston wasn’t on anyone’s list of pro prospects and he knew it.

After college, Ray moved to Dallas and began a successful career as a mortgage broker, focused on career more than athletics.  After joining a local gym where he’d play ball, his focus began to change.  Former Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders saw Ray’s ability when working out and urged him not to turn away from sports. “They gave me a lot of confidence,” Ray says, something that was missing during his college days.

With elite professional athletes cheering him on, Ray entered a local Hoop-It-Up tournament held outside American Airlines Center, the home court of the Dallas Mavericks. Owner Mark Cuban and team President Donnie Walsh saw Ray play and were impressed enough to invite him to try out for the team along with 20 other players.
The higher the level of play, the higher Ray’s game rose. His skills as a point guard where evident as he continually led his pick-up teams to victory during the tryouts. Out of the 20 invited players, only Ray was offered a spot on the team. “I thought I was being Punk’d.” Donnie Nelson told him flat out that he kept looking for a reason to pass him over, “but I couldn’t.” In a competitive environment, Ray had “high confidence, no pressure” and simply played much better when he played aside better players. In the span of a month, he went from selling mortgages to playing against Yao Ming and the Chinese National Team.  He had made the NBA.

In the next several months, he would play with rookies Devon Harris and Josh Howard in summer league camp, making friends and impressing coaches. He was the only player who came to practice five hours early. On a team with Dirk Nowitzski, he was determined to do everything possible to earn a position.
Ray’s maverick world changed very quickly. After bumping shins in a pick-up game, his leg began to swell. Thinking it was a very minor injury, he wasn’t initially concerned. The next day, he found the bruise wouldn’t heal.  His blood wasn’t clotting normally. He began to take things more seriously.  It turned out that his blood was 84% leukemic.

Once diagnosed with cancer, Ray remained in a hospital for four and half months. He was placed in a medically-induced coma from August until November.  It took another three to four weeks to “get his head back.” His mother was determined to make his recovery room as positive as possible. “Upbeat, upbeat” she continually told visitors before they came to see Ray.


Ray believed his parents played a monumental role in his triumph into remission.  “My dad worked hard to be a success” he says. “I was subliminally installed to think I was tough and had to earn my keep.” Though they divorced when Ray was four, his parents both helped prepare and encourage Ray during the difficult treatments and procedures, including the amputation of seven toes. “Cancer strengthened the hell out of my relationship with my parents.”

While his parents bid their influence, Ray’s faith served as more motivation. He had every reason in the world to be down, but was inspired by Proverbs 17:22.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Faith made it possible for Ray to deal with a phobia that had long plagued him but he now needed to face head on: needles. He reached back to basketball and applied the mental preparation to shoot a free throw to the task of taking an injection. “They teach you to do the same thing every time. To shoot, I would dribble three times and place my finger on the air hole. In the hospital, I repeated to myself, ‘Jesus died on the cross three times; you are such a wuss for thinking this hurts.’”

Along with his parents and faith, modern medicine helped save Ray Johnston’s life. At one point in time, Ray had 26 doctors working with him. He took an experimental drug called Tamibarotene that is now in second phase clinical trials.  The sheer number of talented people working with him made Ray want to win – in this case, beat the cancer.
Beating the odds of cancer drove Ray to take on new odds, now that of pursuing a professional career in music. When asked about chances of his being both a professional athlete and a professional musician, Ray responds with measure, “How do I answer that without sounding cocky?”

He points to having a similar support network in the music profession as he did in sports. When he played ball with athletes like Devon Harris and Josh Howard, it elevated his play. He calls his fellow musicians an “NBA All-Star Team of Band Mates.” Steve Jordon, Ray’s producer, has worked with Keith Richards, Stevie Wonder, and John Mayer. Ray seems to attract people willing to work hard for results that are not always certain. He believes he can lead them to success. He’s faced death five times in seven years; the pressures of the music industry don’t really scare him.
With sheer determination supporting each downbeat, The Ray Johnston Band mixes rock, jazz, county, and a little rumba to its performances. Touring the country, the band plays benefit concerts for organizations supporting cancer research. He carries a message to his audiences that is both personal to him and helpful in progressing beyond the pain he and they share.  His music reflects his perspective toward cancer. Upbeat. Confident.

His doctor once told Ray he would have trouble living to age 33. After playing for the Dallas Mavericks, beating back cancer, staging a successful musical career, and fundraising for cancer research, Ray has defied his doctor’s prognosis negative, clearly living a very full life.  He’s still holding out for the date with Jennifer Anniston and a cure for cancer.  He says he’s just getting started with life, and he knows that in an amazing way, his cancer helped get him there.

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

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

Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls Continue To Visit Troops on Memorial Day

American300 Public Affairs - 5/16/15 

Undisclosed Middle East -  For the 6th straight year, World Champion Cowboy Kaycee Feild along with other Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls are saluting and honoring the service and sacrifices of our Troops throughout the Memorial Day week. 

“I’m so pumped to be returning to an area of operations that we haven’t been in since 2010,” says Kaycee Feild, 4x World Champion Bareback Riding Cowboy, “I’m the lucky Cowboy who gets to represent the entire cowboy community in saying thank you each year, it’s a tremendous honor.” he added. 

Over the years the tour has visited: Kuwait, Iraq, U.A.E., Qatar, Oman, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pacific Commands and Washington and Alaska. This year's tour locations are undisclosed. 

Making it all happen are the dedicated members of the Department of Defense’s Armed Forces Entertainment office who have worked to ensure that the tour is a priority engagement for Troops serving in remote areas of operation on Memorial Day each year. “There aren’t that many signature tours which are sustained from year to year,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300.org the nonprofit that works directly with the DoD on a monthly basis year-round producing resiliency minded tours, adding: “It’s a great reflection on Kaycee and the others along with the entire western lifestyle community, that this tour has been a priority for the DoD over the years.”

Focused on saluting service during the hollowed Memorial Day week is an awesome responsibility for Wrangler National Patriot Tour team veterans: Kaycee Feild, Maegan Ridley, Jeff Chadwick, Lucas Hoge and new this year, Brittney Truman and Thomas Becker III.  “These Cowboys and Cowgirls along with Nashville singers are the perfect group for our Troops on Memorial Day week,” says John Bates, a 3x Wounded Warrior who retired as a Colonel from the USMC several years ago. Bates, serves as a co-host for the tour each year along with Army veteran Powers. 

With a motto of ‘Because We’re All Family’ and ample doses of Americana this year’s Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Tour is certain to be genuine in it’s focus on saluting and honoring our Troops Duty and Sacrifice, something that is much appreciated by our Service Members during the last week of May each year. 

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

To learn more about the DoD Armed Forces Entertainment: www.ArmedForcesEntertainment.com 

American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit dedicated to supporting the Department of Defense. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied.  American300 operates on financial support from the DoD and DoS along with private donor contributions - American300.org 

Astronauts Don't Go To Space Alone

American300 Public Affairs- by Mike Lane


Armed Forces Bases, Alaska -   Placing special guests on military bases around the world is what our Department of Defense Armed Forces Entertainment office, headquartered at Andrews Air Force Base does on a monthly basis.   The same can be said for the nonprofit American300.org.  This week the DoD and American300 are teaming up to place a family with
service members stationed in Alaska.  The tour aptly titled:  'American Astronaut Family' will travel to US Coast Guard Stations, Air Force Bases and Stations and Army Bases, throughout the state.

No astronaut goes to space alone. They not only have the full backing of their fellow space comrades, mission control, hundreds of thousands of co-workers; but just as importantly, the love, dedication and support of their family. In Dr Steve Swanson’s case, that transcends state and country boundaries and ages including twin 19-month-old grandsons and up.

Most immediately, we often think of the six person crew aboard the International Space Station as enduring the brunt of hardships of the mission. However, those same daily difficulties apply to those who stay home responsible for keeping the family running financially, emotionally and psychologically. 

Fortunate for Steve, his wife, Mary, a nurse practitioner with the University of Texas Health Science, serves as the backbone of his support group.  She doesn’t do it alone, but relies on their three adult children, Scott, Caroline and Quinn, to round out the home base squad. 
Understanding what their dad is going through plays a vital role in keeping spirits strong on earth and high above. A chief warrant officer in the US Army flying helicopters, Steve’s oldest, Scott, is stationed in Fairbanks, AK, but recently returned himself from a 9-month deployment to Korea.  A mother to twin boys, Caroline holds a degree in computer science similar to her father and understands social and electronic media, a vital link between Expedition 40 commander and the planet.  Rounding out the base crew is Quinn, the youngest sibling, who just started his first year of college and carries the young opened-eye spirit that anything is possible. Beyond their specialties, humor, fun and good-natured spirit complete the package.


Today’s technology including email, social posts, mobile calls and video conference, makes the distance appear smaller, but being away is still difficult for all. Only though a dedicated family support team is the hardship lessened and the Swanson clan understands firsthand what our military families are challenged with on a daily basis.

Armed Forces Entertainment and American300 are honored to showcase this family and provide opportunities of military families to meet and share with the Swanson's.   In addition to visiting units, local units have also scheduled several elementary and high school visits where students will be afforded the opportunity to learn about space and meet the Astronaut and his family.    

For more information visit:



American300 is a non-government organization.  The nonprofit 501c3 all volunteer organization is managed by Army Veteran Robi Powers, of Colorado who serves as a host to over 30 unique resiliency minded tours per year.  No federal endorsement is intended or implied - American300.org 

Vietnam POW shares story once again with American300 Tours

4/13/15 - 21st SPACE WING -  This week Major General Edward Mechenbier, USAF/POW joins the American300 effort once again in supporting our Airmen at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and Peterson Air Force Base.  So many stories have been written about the General that instead of creating yet another, we thought we'd share this one from a previous tour: 

Story by 341MW PAO - by A1C Collin Schmidt 

9/26/2013 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The American300 tour visited Malmstrom Air Force Base once again Sept. 19. For this visit, the tour brought along a special guest who served as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War and was shot down resulting in a six-year imprisonment at the Hoa Lo Prison, better known as the Hanoi Hilton.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Edward Mechenbier had his share of struggles throughout his military career. For the majority of the time he was held captive, he survived on less than 800 calories a day. The cell he lived in was 7 feet long by 9 feet wide and he shared it with one other inmate.

"Being held at the Hanoi Hilton was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to go through," said Mechenbier. "Even with my time spent in captivity I returned to a normal life. I picked up where I left off, but I still think about the ones who weren't so fortunate. I am glad to be able to share my story with the men and women here and I hope it shows people that no matter what obstacles you may face, you can still overcome and push forward."

The American300 tour's mission is to help instill a "never quit" attitude in service members. Every American300 tour visit brings a new person who has had to overcome tremendous obstacles in order to achieve their goals. Whether it be in sports or combat, the men and women who share their time with the Airmen of Malmstrom always have a story to tell and a message to show that nothing is too difficult to achieve.

Mechenbier's story is about keeping hope and building a resilience in the hard times that can never be broken.

"I have a passion for the people who dedicate their life to defending our country," Mechenbier said. "I was once a young man ready to take on anything. Through the years, I have learned that there will be times when you need a Wingman, when you need someone who can help you through a difficult time in your life. I have also learned that you need to have tough skin and be mentally ready for anything.

"On June 14, 1967, I was shot down during a strike mission on the northeast railroad near Kep [Vietnam]," he added. "I ended up landing on the roof of a building after ejecting from my aircraft and spent five years, eight months and four days in captivity, but who's counting. When I ejected, and during my time in captivity, I suffered crushed vertebrae, broken teeth and dislocated both of my shoulders, so I do know what it feels like to be in pain. Even with all that I have been through, I still consider myself one of the lucky ones."

Machenbier was awarded two Purple Hearts, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Meritorious Service Medal, nine Air Medals, two Silver Stars and the Prisoner of War Medal for his service and time in captivity during the Vietnam War.

After separating from the active-duty Air Force in June of 1975 he went on to fly the F-100 and A-7 aircraft for the Air National Guard. He eventually retired from the ANG in 2004 as a major general.

"I want you men and women to know that you [Team Malmstrom members] are important," Mechenbier said. "There will always be hard times. There will always be another obstacle for you to overcome, but I want you to know that you are the key to overcoming it. You can always succeed." 


American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit effort lead by Veterans and Patriots who believe in connecting amazing individuals with our Armed Forces Members repeatedly over a span of years.  Through relationships and a better understanding of what is truly possible in life our teams help foster a commitment to being the best we can all be in service to our country, our families and our communities.  For more information on American300 visit: www.American300.org 

Three Wars, Three Purple Hearts - The John Bates USMC Story

American300 Public Affairs - 4/4/15

This week John Bates will join Robi Powers as the two visit USCG District 11 Units in California.  Here's a little background on our 'Service with Honor Series' guest; Colonel John Bates, USMC retired: 


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 its marks on the Marine inside and out. The wounds, experienced over the span of nearly a year in Vietnam’s jungles had literally taken their pound of flesh out of the Marine. 

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 pick up where he’d left off in college prior to enlisting just a few years prior.  Over the span of half a decade, college credits eventually lead to several degrees. 

With bachelor and master degrees in hand and capable of running marathons and ultra -marathons, Bates started requesting permission to come out of retirement- to re-enter the active duty Marine Corps. 

After years of being told no, the Navy Medical Board finally signed off on his health records and gave the Marines the final say on allowing reinstatement. 

Marine Headquarters said yes, provided Bates could pass Officer Candidates School. 

The rest of the story is history.  Colonel John Bates Jr. USMC retired went on to serve in numerous command positions over the span of thirty-three plus years of service including two more combat tours in Kuwait and Iraq. 

"Service with Honor" is one of the many signature resiliency tours that all-volunteer nonprofit American300 produces for the Department of Defense throughout the year.  

Follow this Service with Honor Tour at:  www.American300.org  and on facebook at ‘American300 Tours’ 
This tour is supported by USCG MWR and USCG HQ Public Affairs.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied - American300.org 

Texas and New Mexico Events in March

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 

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