8th Annual Western Themed Tour Heads Overseas for Troops

Wrangler Team with Troops in Africa 2016
Europe/Middle East - Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls along with Nashville Artists embark on their 8th Wrangler National Patriot Tour on Monday May 22nd.   Where is our Department of Defense Armed Forces Entertainment office sending them this year? 

Bases in Kosovo and Jordan 

To date the western team has visited: Alaska, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Oman, our Pacific Command and UAE to name a few. This year’s Memorial Day tour will be mixing the lush green rolling hills and cool european temperatures of Kosovo with the baking hot sands and stone of Jordan in the middle east.  

“Where we go each year doesn’t matter, why we go and who we go to see is what this annual trip is all about,” says Jeff Chadwick, a Director with the Wrangler Corporation who has been on all of the trips to date, adding, “Armed Forces Entertainment and American300 have done a fantastic job over the years of moving us around the world with a focus on remote and isolated base visits which is the only thing we’ve grown to expect.” 

Mr. Chadwick who held a professional rodeo card himself ‘back in the day’ has assembled an all-star team for this year’s trip including tour mainstay Lucas Hoge and his Band's lead guitarist Thomas Becker, joined by Wrangler Cowgirls: Annie Bianco, Jenna Smeenk and Brittany Truman along with World Champion and Hall of Fame Cowboy Bullfighter Rob Smets. 

Non-stop boot stomping musical performances, on the fly roping lessons and most
Lucas Hoge & Thomas Becker - 0200hrs 'Guard Shack' Concert 2016
importantly western community icons getting to spend time with the troops is what this tour has always been about.  American300's John Bates and Robi Powers couldn’t be more proud of this traditional effort. 

Colonel Bates, a retired Marine Corps 3x purple heart recipient sums it up this way: “there’s something about putting Nashville’s finest with Cowgirls and Cowboys and watching them show the Troops that they’re admired and appreciated in and around Memorial Day that rings of ‘they're not forgotten - you're not forgotten' loud and clear… it’s pure Americana… with love by some the most genuine troops supporters you'll ever find." 

About Armed Forces Entertainment

Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

About American300 

American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 created to support our Department of Defense and Department of State with meaningful resiliency programming.  Established in 2006, American300 programming has brought special guests to dozens of countries and over 500 military installation visits to date.  For more visit www.American300.org and www.OneTeamEnvoys.org - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. 

ONETEAM Medical Team - Collaboration Is Key

San Salvador - ONETEAM Envoys return to El Salvador with focus on expanding the
Youth Rugby Dir. Felipe Flores with young players
relationship between the ESA Youth Rugby project and government sports medicine officials. 

Now in it's third month of programming, the ESA Youth Rugby Project has grown from zero participants to well over two-hundred.  While young community members are learning the sport from local coaches and program manager Felipe Flores, there are development aspects in play off the field as well.  "Rugby is a contact sport and while our youth 7's program is focused on speed and passing there will be tackling and the potential for collisions that take place," says Felipe Flores, adding "thanks to ONETEAM Envoy's medical team we are collectively addressing all aspects of sports medicine in a collaborative effort with our nations sports ministry and Olympic Committee sports medicine staff members." 

While rugby is a 'contact' sport, Flores points out that a review and broad discussion on concussion protocols is needed in El Salvador.   He points to other sports where concussions happen as proof that El Salvador needs to catch up.  "We have hard court sports like: basketball, volleyball, martial arts and open field sports like soccer that all suffer from concussions, so it's imperative that we create a discussion with medical professionals." says Flores. 

ONETEAM Envoy's Laila Powers M.D. heads up a team of American physicians who are committed to ensuring that El Salvador's sports medicine team members have all the subject matter expertise available to them. "It's not an issue of our physicians knowing more, it's about creating open lines of communication so that we can be as collaborative as possible," says Doctor Powers, adding "programs like 'impact' concussion testing and concussion protocols are constantly being updated both in America and around the world, the more professional care givers can share with one another the better." 

The ONETEAM Envoy visit will also include meetings with ESA Rugby board members, US Embassy staff members as well as El Salvador Sports Ministry senior leaders. Time will also be spent visiting with the four existing ESA Youth Rugby programs and meeting with officials from two additional cities that have expressed interest in joining the project.  

Hoosiers Host Nation's Largest Half Marathon - in Kosovo

500 Festival Public Relations -   The 500 Festival is taking a remote version of the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Finish Line 500 Festival 5K to overseas troops stationed at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo on April 28 and 29. Hosted by our deployed Indiana National Guard, and other U.S. Armed Forces personnel, the individuals stationed at Camp Bondsteel will have a unique Indy Mini experience that feels like home.

“Holding a satellite version of the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is something we’re very excited about this year,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “It’s an honor and a privilege to take our event and deliver it to Hoosiers and other armed forces personnel overseas. We can’t wait to see the impact this has on both our troops and our participants at home.”

Longtime Indy Mini public address announcer Rob Powers will travel to Kosovo to manage the event as a representative of his nonprofit organization, American300.org and the 500 Festival.  

“Emceeing one of the greatest half marathons in the world is an incredible honor, but being able to announce at a forward deployed remote Mini-Marathon is beyond words,” Powers said. “And then I get to fly half way around the world to do it again a week later in front of thousands here in Indy.”

Powers will travel with Vietnam wounded warrior Charlie Manis; a decorated member of Indiana’s famed D Company, 151st Rangers. The Indiana Army National Guardsmen will be joined by businessmen Aasif Bade, who serves as a board member of the 500 Festival. “Charlie and Aasif are going to be our grand marshals and will be jumping into runs each day... we've already go them practicing with the green starters flags." added Powers laughingly. 

Troops in Kosovo will receive the full experience, from medals and shirts to an exciting and challenging 13.1 mile race. They’ll also hear the same voice that launches the Mini-Marathon back in Indy the following weekend.

The 2017 remote Mini-Marathon is the first since 2013 when the 500 Festival hosted a similar event. Prior to 2013, the last time Troops had run a remote Mini-Marathon was when Powers helped host a forward version in Kuwait in 2009 with the same unit that is now deployed to Kosovo. 

“We’re thankful for organizations working to support our service members while overseas,” said Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard. “Events like this promote healthy lifestyles that improve the overall well-being of our soldiers.”

The 500 Festival will continue a season-long campaign of encouraging our Indiana military 

personnel throughout running events this spring. The 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, consists of races in February, March and April mirroring a half-marathon training program. A Thank You banner, signed by staff, volunteers and participants will be delivered to Kosovo and displayed at the race to support and encourage troops as they prepare for their own Mini-Marathon.

About American 300

Founded in 2006, American300 is a 501c3 not-for-profit that supports our Department of Defense with subject matter experts on the topic of resiliency. To date American300 has conducted well over 500 worldwide base visits with mentors ranging from Wounded Warriors and Olympians to Professional Athletes and Astronauts. The primary goal being to connect remotely deployed Service Members with mentors who bring a unique perspective on the general theme of never quitting while striving to be the best in service to our country, their families and communities they live and operate in. More at: American300.org 


Benjamin Breckheimer, USA SSG ret. 
Kilimanjaro Tanzania and Mount Everest Nepal - American300 mentor Benjamin Breckheimer, US Army purple heart recipient is making good on a life goal of taking his purple heart to the summit of the world's tallest continental mountains. 

After retreating due to sickness on Kilimanjaro a few years ago, Benjamin along with 17 American300 support climbers reached the summit of Africa's tallest mountain this spring. Knocking off two of his '7 Summits' (Mount Elbrus in Russia and Kilimanjaro in Africa) and the first of his 'redemption summits'.   

With five more mountains on his list, Benjamin returned to the states, not to relax and celebrate his African success, but to prepare for the next 7 summit: Mount Everest in Nepal. 

This past week, American300 founder Rob Powers traveled to Nepal with Benjamin to begin the acclimatization routine hand him off to fellow Am300 mentor Chhiring Dorje Sherpa. Together with two Swedish and one Polish climber Benjamin will be attempting to summit the world's tallest mountain this May as part of the Rolwaling International Expedition. 

Like, Kilimanjaro this will be Benjamin's second visit to the mountain.  Unlike, Kilimanjaro where he feel victim to sickness, Benjamin was returning to base camp from high on the mountain in 2015, when the major earthquake rocked the country and caused catastrophic damages and death throughout Nepal to include 19 climbers being killed by avalanches. 

"Getting knocked down mentally came way closer to killing me then having my leg blown off," says Benjamin, referring to the darkness that enveloped him during his recovery from the Afghanistan roadside bomb. "Having this 7 summits goal has ignited a passion within me that has restored me, I can't wait to get back onto the mountain."   

American300 will continue to provide updates as they become available from Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and the International Expedition team members. 

UPDATE - 20APR17 - The team is at base camp and has completed several acclimatization climbs to 5,000 meters.  All team members are doing great. 

UPDATE - 22MAY17 - Benjamin and Chhiring achieved the summit of Everest on 22MAY17 at 0825hrs local Everest.  They have descending to Camp 3 and are resting over night before continuing downward.   Benjamin now joins two other combat wounded warriors (purple heart recipients ) as the 3rd Purple Heart Climber to stand on top of the world. 

Youth Development - focus of new Olympic sport in El Salvador

El Salvador - After years of working with the El Salvador Olympic Committee’s family of sport, American300 ONETEAM programming with support from the Colgan Foundation have agreed to focus support on El Salvador’s Rugby Federation and a program called “ESA Youth Rugby Project 2020.” 

Currently, there is no comprehensive youth rugby program in the country and the goal of ‘Project 2020’ is to see participation grow from zero to over a thousand in the next 4 years. 

“There’s only so much Eduardo Palomo, president of the ESA Olympic Committee and his organization can do to support the full array of Olympic sanctioned sports throughout the country,” says Rob Powers, founder of American300, adding “ Our goal is to support the ESA Olympic Committee’s efforts by focusing on this amazing opportunity to grow a new Olympic sport.” 

Working with Daniel Olano, president of the El Salvador Rugby Federation, American300 ONETEAM programming will focus on youth development.  “Daniel has a vision and it is centered on youth programming in mass, which imatches our programs goals completely.” says Daniel Beery, Olympic gold medalist and American300 ONETEAM sports ambassador. 

This coming week, Olano along with newly hired development manager Felipe Flores, a long time Olympic Committee staff member who resigned from the Olympic Committee in February, will be hosting Powers and Beery. “ We have meetings scheduled with the Mayors of: Santa Tecla, San Pedro Masahuat, San Miguel and San Jose Guayabal, in what will serve as an official launch to the program as these cities have agreed to work with ESA Rugby in developing youth programming.” says Felipe Flores.  

“We’re incredibly grateful to both the ESA Olympic Committee and ESA Rugby for the continued work they do providing sports opportunity to the youth of El Salvador,” says Beery, “on any given day athletic fields across El Salvador are packed with soccer players, our goal is to encourage a whole new group of youth to join these players on the field of play with this new Olympic sports offering.” he added. 

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

Photographers Focus on Service Members

Southwest Harbor, Maine - American300 returns to New England and our United States Coast Guard with the first of a new programming initiative involving professional photography this week. 

“We’re always looking for ways to connect with service members and the Coast Guard has had this amazing nationwide photo contest called ‘Shutter Shootout’ in place for years,” says Gretchen Powers, a professional photographer and volunteer tour leader for American300, “I saw an opportunity to round up my colleagues from across the country and ask them to volunteer to share their tricks of the trade with our service members.” 

Aside from the obvious benefits of having professional photographers share their subject matter expertise, American300 is excited to expose these professionals to the day in day out role that our Coast Guard and other branches of service perform for our country. 

“Whether it be with a mobile phone or dedicated camera, photography is just one of those activities that nearly everyone has access to and with a tiny bit of instruction there’s a wide array of positive growth that can come from taking pictures that truly capture a moment in time… it’s an art form and seeing individuals improve at it is rewarding for everyone involved.” says Powers. 

For this first workshop, Powers has enlisted the help of fellow New England based professional photographers: Cam Held and Christine Reighley.  With a morning spent focused on giving the photographers a taste of Coast Guard life and afternoon spent having the professionals share and instruct the hope is to provide the Coasties with the tools to take better photos while on adventures with their family and friends while encouraging them to get out and explore their surroundings says the team. 

For more on American300 visit:  www.American300.org 

American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit which is focused on supporting our Department of Defense and Homeland Security Service Members with innovative programming which fosters positive growth and resilient mindsets.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org 

Climbers Rally For Fellow Mentor

UPDATE:  Benjamin along with mentors and supporters reached the summit of Kilimanjaro on March 1, 2017 at 0722hrs! 

Tanzania Africa -  For experienced high altitude climbers, Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t considered a technical climb, but rather a bucket list summit.  Rising to a height of 19,340 feet above sea level the world’s tallest free standing mountain represents the roof of Africa and is a famed member of the 'seven summits' achievement for reaching the continentals tallest peaks. 

For medically retired US Army Staff Sergeant Benjamin Breckheimer, climbing became the driving force behind his recovery process after being blown up while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009.   Only through incredible medical care was his right leg re-attached and circulation resorted.  Today, his right ankle is completely fused in a 90 degree ‘standing’ position but, has mobility in both legs, just don't ask him to run. 

“It's my oxygen, the reason I get up in the morning. When I’m not climbing or preparing for a major climb, my mind tends to wonder and right now that’s not a good thing.” says the 31 year old purple heart recipient who struggled with alcohol abuse and suicide during his darkest days of recovery.  

In 2014, Breckheimer traveled to Tanzania in hopes of collecting the first of his seven summit peaks - Mount Kilimanjaro, or ‘Kili’ as it is referred to within the climbing community. As fate would have it, he became sick on the flight over from the States and lasted 4 days on the mountain before succumbing to altitude sickness and retreat. 

Benjamin shares his story with Airmen in Germany
“Kili, is a killer for those who don’t respect her,” says Chris Klinke, a multiple Everest summit expedition leader. “It’s not a technical mountain, it’s a text book acclimatization ascent to do it in 5-7 days.”  The statistics speak for themselves: over 40 percent of the climbers attempting to summit the mountain succumb to high altitude sickness and retreat.

During the year following his failed attempt on Kili, Benjamin was afforded an opportunity to join an Everest expedition team, which also ended unexpectedly.  It was on Everest in the spring of 2015, that the Calvary Scout experienced the biggest scare of his life.  An avalanche tore through base camp killing 19 fellow climbers and just missed sweeping Benjamin away.  “Seeing that massive wall of snow coming right at me was more terrifying then seeing my leg dangling by a cord after the explosion in Afghanistan.”

This week Breckheimer returns to Kilimanjaro with a crew of supporters from the nonprofit organization American300.  “I had the opportunity to travel with Benjamin on a overseas military mentoring tour last November and watched him connect with fellow service members in an incredibly powerful way,” says Eric Meyer, MD, who also has multiple Everest summits and volunteers as a military mentor with American300.  “When we heard that Kili had kicked Ben’s butt, a group of us decided to help him give it another go.”

“We constantly place individuals like Benjamin with deployed troops to allow for personal resiliency stories to be shared,” says Rob Powers, founder of the military mentoring program.  “For Benjamin it’s mountains, for others it’s something else maybe.  The point is, we all need something that drives us from within and seek the true fun that life has to offer if we just don’t quit.” 

American300 has enlisted the support of fellow mentors and supporters to ensure that Benjamin doesn’t go it alone. Climbing alongside both his Kilimanjaro and Everest attempts will be Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, a world renowned Everest expedition leader and long time American300 military mentor along with Dr. Meyer, Dr. Bryan Scheer and others. 

“We’re incredibly honored to support Benjamin’s return to Kilimanjaro and Everest, he’s not only a great example of resiliency, he’s become a fantastic mentor,” says Ed Bell, president of the all volunteer effort American300 who along with Powers will be joining the climb. “Again it showed all of us the power our mentors have in effecting positive growth, not just with the troops they serve, but with each other - we couldn’t be prouder of the American300 team.” says Bell. 

Kilimanjaro isn’t the only mountain that American300 volunteers will be helping Benjamin 
climb this year, he will also be traveling to Nepal and Mount Everest. 

Follow along with Benjamin on his journey to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Everest here at www.American300.org for updates, photos and video. 

About American300 - 

The 501c3 nonprofit American300 supports our Department of Defense and Department of State with mentor programming designed to increase individual resiliency. Learn more at: www.American300.org 

Wounded Warrior Saved by Mountains

Whiteman Air Force Base -  Benjamin Breckheimer, joined the Army to save lives. Despite the countless lives that his surgical team managed to restore life to, the daily loss of life in Baghdad was taking its toll on his soul.

What happened as a result of his deployment to Iraq as a Army surgical assistant is the stuff movies are made of.  After a year of guts and gore, Sergeant Breckheimer, put in for a occupational re-assignment.  

If the story ended here, many would guess that he chose solace in a duty assignment that would place him far from the inescapable human destruction of war… the reality - Benjamin, chose to be closer to the front lines where his patients were receiving the injuries he dealt with on a daily basis in Iraq. 

Upon return from Iraq, the surgical assistant went back to advance training school as a Calvary Scout.   Not long after graduating from calvary advanced training he was deployed a second time to Asia, this time around to the eastern border of Afghanistan. 

“I got so burned out on always working on the after effects of terror,” says Breckheimer, adding “I knew that I needed to be up front fighting alongside these warriors that I was caring for.” 

Months and countless patrols into his re-deployment as a Cav Scout, Benjamin’s Stryker was struck by an I.E.D.  The explosion destroyed the Stryker and Breckheimer.

After years of warrior care and a successful limb re-attachment ( right leg ) Breckheimer was then dealt with another set back - divorce. 

Things weren’t going well in Benjamin’s life.  

One night while sitting in bed, Benjamin held a handgun in one hand while petting his dogs with the other.  In his mind it was time to throw in the towel, but the thought of killing himself with no one around to check on him revealed the reality that his dogs would probably end up eating him… sick thoughts for sick times. 

His dogs ended up saving his life that night.  He’d nearly thrown it ( blown it) away and in the days that followed that darkest of nights he became introspective. “I’d always been drawn to the magic of huge mountains and after looking at guys like Tom Whittaker ( first amputee/handicapped climber to summit Mount Everest) and wounded warriors who were climbing instead of quitting I decided to set my new life goal to join them. 

Breckheimer and Rob Powers, the founder of American300.org will be laying out their personal life stories with Airmen at Whiteman Air Force Base this week in hopes that by sharing, others may be able to better understand the ridiculous nature of allowing life’s darkest moments and thoughts to get in the way of it’s potential brightest memories.  “What I’ve been through is nothing unique, there are millions of warriors who have or will go through much of what rocked my world - I’m just hopeful that by sharing my story others will be better prepared to realize that they’re not alone, that life can offer so much if we just don’t quit.” says Breckheimer. 

Today, Benjamin, has climbed one of the world’s seven continental tallest peaks with a goal of summiting Kilimanjaro and Everest this year.   If successful he’ll be the third purple heart recipient to summit Everest. 

For more on American300 visit:  www.American300.org 

American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of supporting the Department of Defense through military mentor programming.   The nonprofit also conducts sports diplomacy programming throughout the world.   

USA Diving Heads to Thule Air Base

BY USA DIVING -  JAN. 12, 2017

Olympic medalists Troy Dumais and Sam Dorman will travel to Thule Air Base in Greenland on Thursday, January 19 as part of USA Diving’s Dive Into Service program.

Dive Into Service is a leadership focused mentorship and relationship building program that partners USA Diving athletes with active military service members and veterans. USA Diving athletes will support and engage members of our military and will have the opportunity to learn leadership and team-building skills through sessions run by military leaders sharing their personal experiences defending our nation.  In turn, USA Diving athletes will share their stories of setting both individual and team goals to be the best in the world while representing Team USA. 

Dumais, a four-time Olympian and 2012 bronze medalist, will be making his second trip with the Dive Into Service program when he travels to Greenland. Dumais took part in the program’s launch on September 11, 2016, with a visit to the Air Force’s 21st Space Wing located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Dorman, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, will be participating in his first Dive Into Service trip.

Thule Air Base, which reports to the 21st Space Wing, is the United States’ most remote military base. Located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, its mission is to provide early warning and defense of ballistic missile launches against the United States and Southern Canada to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and JCS Command Centers. The 12th Space Warning Squadron also detects and tracks polar orbiting satellites in support of operational space surveillance and space control missions.

USA Diving has partnered with American300 Tours, a not-for-profit organization that supports military service members and their families with mentor programming, to implement the Dive Into Service program.  Hosting the visit to Thule Air Base will be Olympic Gold Medalist and long time American300 mentor Dan Beery. 

American P.O.W. - 'Service with Honor'

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

 There was no need to say it again...they were going in! 

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

Mentors and Troops deployed in Southwest Asia are reunited once again as American300 partners with DoD Armed Forces Entertainment to present: ‘Service with Honor'... the story of Major General Edward Mechenbier, USAF retired. 

“There is very little that hasn't already been said to a service member who is on their 'um-teenth' deployment... they've seen and heard it all," says Army Veteran Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit American300, adding, "but put a guy who went through six years of hell as a prisoner of war, who then came home to eventually become a two star General and troops ears and eyes perk up... the message is worthy and relevant." 

Aside from the opportunity for service members to get to personally know the retired General, they'll also be provided the opportunity to ask the biggest question of all: 'how'd you manage to get through all those years of torture and incarceration in north Vietnam'. 

After years of mentoring on bases throughout the United Sates with American300, this will be General Mechenbier's first trip overseas with the nonprofit.  The nonprofit believes in growth through a strategic nurturing approach.  “Not everyone is going to relate to every guest mentor we introduce to a unit,” says retired Army Ranger and purple heart recipient Jessie Stewart, who sits on the non-profit's advisory board, adding,  “When I was on my last deployment I didn’t want to be around folks who couldn’t relate, who hadn’t been there, I can relate completely to how our programming is received by Service Members... I was one of them, I met Robi and American300 the first time in the middle east and the effect was overwhelmingly positive."

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

American300 is an all volunteer nonprofit which enlists the assistance of resiliency experts to help today’s military members be the best that they can be in service, relationships and friendships.  To date the nonprofit has visited over 500 bases worldwide in support of a comprehensive approach by the Department of Defense to offer up unique ways of approaching service life.  Previous visits to the middle east have featured world champion athletes, Olympic champions, wounded warriors and astronauts to name a few.   

For more on American300 visit: www.American300.org 

About Armed Forces Entertainment

Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Cowboy Kicks Off World Championships By Visiting Troops

Nellis Air Force Base -  After twelve years of competing in professional rodeo's world championships, Trevor Knowles would be right in his mind to step away from the injury prone sport of bulldogging and focus his energies entirely on running the family farm.  Instead, the hall of fame high school wrestling star will be entering the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the 13th time in the hopes that his steers run straight and his landings on top of them go in the right direction. 

Of all the professional rodeo sports, steer wrestling aka ‘bulldogging’ is one of the hardest on the body, not the steers, but the cowboys.  “Being raised on a farm and having a Vietnam veteran for a father definitely has made Trevor the man he is today,” says Jeff Chadwick, a director with Wrangler Corporation who recruited Trevor and many others to represent the companies ‘Wrangler National Patriot’ program years ago, he adds, “It wasn’t a hard sell, Trevor has been donating time and financial resources to local military charities ever since he started on his way to being a million dollar Cowboy."

As part of the Wrangler National Patriot program, professional cowboys, cowgirls and rodeo committees here at home are asked to volunteer time and energy to raise awareness and funds for our military charities.  

In 2009, Chadwick went one step farther by partnering with american300.org to connect his stable of professional athletes with our troops serving around the world.  Now 8 years later, Wrangler champions have shared their never quit winning attitudes and heart felt thanks with thousands of troops.  “Every year we take Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls out on the Department of Defense Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour,” says Army Veteran Robi Powers, founder of American300 “while the focus has always been on saluting the service and ultimate sacrifices, it’s also become a resiliency sharing experience as troops come to understand the true nature of what it means to be a professional cowboy.” he added. 

This week, Trevor Knowles joins the likes of World Champion Hall of Fame Cowboys: John W. Jones Jr. and Rob Smets along with Annie Bianco and many others in taking time out for our Troops.   Trevor along with Chadwick and Powers will be visiting Nellis Air Force to meet Airmen and share their thanks along with resilient life stories. 

For more on American300 Military Mentor Programming visit:  www.American300.org 

One Leg One Mountain - Everest

Tom Whittaker
US Armed Forces Bases Europe -  For most the thought of climbing the world’s tallest mountain is enough to give pause.  Not only is the task a super human endurance feat, but life threatening from the moment one arrives at base camp as was evident last year when nearly two dozen climbers died as an earthquake struck Nepal and ensuing avalanche slammed into the staging area.  

Over the next several weeks a group of renowned climbers will be traveling throughout: England, Kosovo and Germany sharing personal stories with US and Coalition Troops. The mission: showcase the possible in life - if we just don’t quit. 

Impossible was the term used to describe Tom Whittaker’s desire to climb Everest back in the 90’s, not because the mountain hadn’t been climbed or that he had chosen a unproven route, but because he was a one legged amputee. Up until his arrival at the summit of the world’s tallest peak, amputee’s and others with disabilities had been shunned from Everest and high altitude climbing altogether.  

Vasu Sojitra 
Today, Vasu Sojitra, plants both of his arm crutches outfitted with special crampons into the steep slope above him.  He lifts and hops upwards with his one leg to gain another 8-10 inches of elevation.  Half a day later, he stands on the summit of a rugged snow covered peak high in the Madison Range of Bozeman, Montana.  With a quick conversion he’s able to turn his outrigger crampon crutches into outrigger skis and together the two mini 'arm skis' combined with  one legged ski descend the 45 degree out of bounds mountain. Vasu, lost his right leg below the hip at age 9 the result of a rare disease. 

For US Army Staff Sergeant Benjamin Breckheimer, awakening from surgery to see that his right leg had been reattached was a bit of a shock.  Having spent the better part of his Army days in the medical community as a surgical assistant in Baghdad and beyond, he knew exactly how severely wounded he was after having switched military careers to Calvary Scout duties, the day that an IED exploded underneath him in Afghanistan,  

Staff Sergeant Benjiman Breckheimer - USA ret. 
Thanks to individuals like Tom and Vasu, Staff Sergeant Breckheimer, retired, is focused on climbing the world’s tallest mountains, fused right leg and all. “I went through some really really dark periods where I didn’t think I’d come out the other side,” says Breckheimer, who during his countless surgeries to repair his legs and other internals became deeply depressed and suicidal, he adds,“Then I see these guys doing all this amazing stuff with one leg and I look down to see both of mine still attached and working for the most part… there was no excuse, I just started dreaming about joining them in the mountains… it’s saved my life.” 

Delivering resilient messaging through unique mentors is the mission of all volunteer nonprofit American300 and they visit bases on a monthly basis all over the world.   Joining the three on this ‘Never Quit Series’ tour will be Everest expedition leader Chris Klinke and Everest expedition Physician Eric Meyer M.D. along with Gretchen Powers and her dad Robi Powers who founded the nonprofit effort back in 2006. 

“I’ve been to bases in Japan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa and all over America and everywhere we go with Armed Forces Entertainment and American300 the Troops are so stoked to talk about what it’s like to be on top of the world,” says Doctor Meyer, adding, “The irony is that I've stood on top of the world twice, and feel like I’m on top of the world every time I get to be around our Troops.” 

About American300 - visit www.American300.org   

About Armed Forces Entertainment
Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

USA Diving Dives Into Service

Troy Dumais - USA Diving
Colorado Springs, CO - USA Diving is proud to announce DIVE INTO SERVICE.  This new service program bringing veterans, active-duty and USA Diving athletes together, will launch September 11th in Colorado Springs, Colorado during a visit with the Air Force’s 21st Space Wing located at Peterson Air Force Base.  USA Diving, in conjunction with American300 Tours, will be coordinating this year-round two-way exchange program for USA Diving athletes, veterans and military service members stationed around the world.

DIVE INTO SERVICE is a mentorship and relationship building program that partners military service members with USA Diving athletes to share like experiences as representatives of the United States.  The commitment, training, high-intensity and pressure driven nature of military service and top-level athletics has proven to be common ground for participants that provides a unique forum for communication and understanding
“We are excited to launch this new mentoring initiative which will educate our athletes while engaging and supporting our military service personnel stationed around the world” said Linda Paul, President and CEO of USA Diving.  

As participants in DIVE INTO SERVICE, USA Diving athletes will have the opportunity to
learn leadership and team-building skills through sessions run by military veterans sharing their personal experiences defending our nation.  USA Diving athletes will in turn have an opportunity to share their stories of setting both individual and team goals in a highly competitive arena while representing the USA.  The shared experiences of a commitment to excellence, training to be the best, high pressure situations, representing the United States and world travel provide multiple subjects for interactions and engagement by all participants resulting in supportive and enduring relationships.

Attending the first DIVE INTO SERVICE trip will be Troy Dumais, USA Diving 4-time Olympian and 2012 silver medalist, Terry Powers, Vice President of USA Diving and Rob Powers, founder of American300 Tours.  During the Peterson Air Force base visit, USA Diving will announce plans for future DIVE INTO SERVICE trips, including a trip to Thule Air Base, located on the northern end of Greenland.  Thule Air Base is 750 miles above the Arctic Circle and is the US Armed Forces northernmost and remote military base.  USA Diving with continue planning additional trips with American300 to incorporate, engage and support the other four branches of military service.

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

Retired Generals Share Resilient Life Stories with Airmen

Major General Ed Mechenbier,
USAF/POW retired
Shreveport/Bossier City, LA -  On this 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on America, retired U.S. Air Force Generals, Bruce Fister and Ed Mechenbier are traveling to Barksdale Air Force Base to share life experiences that focus on resiliency and fostering positive growth with Airmen. 

The journey is one that American300.org has been taking to bases worldwide for years.  "We bring mentors to bases and let conversations occur in the workspaces. It's informal programming focused on connecting real life examples of resiliency with modern day warriors," says Robi Powers, the founder of the nonprofit effort and host of the mentoring program, adding, "It's a comprehensive approach which combines DoD computer and command based educational platforms with real life examples of the same." 

In 1964, Bruce and Ed received commissions from the Air Force Academy.  It would mark the last time in their careers that they'd serve side by side.  Moving forward in service Ed would follow a career path focused on fighter aircraft with nearly 6 years spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Classmate Bruce, would serve in Vietnam as well, praying for Ed's release while he conducted hundreds of missions with air mobility command. 
Lt General Bruce Fister, USAF

Combined the two accumulated over 70 years of duty and this week the Airmen of our 5th Bomb Wing, Air Force Global Strike Command will have an opportunity to get to know them. 

"We're as excited to learn the stories of our young Airmen as we are to share our own," says Mechenbier, adding "what American300.org is allowed to do is share stories which lead to conversations that are meaningful.  It's the antithesis of computer based programming, but supports our DoD human dimension development platforms completely." 

For more on the all volunteer efforts of American300 Tours visit: www.American300.org