Bridgeport, California - For over 150 years Bridgeport, has hosted one of the best small town nation's birthday celebrations in the country. In this rural golden state town where cows outnumber people, July 4th traditions include everything from pancake breakfasts to a 6 block spectator lined main street parade.
Since 1951, the towns parade has featured Marines and their families, the result of the Department of Defense constructing our only Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center just 20 minutes north of town.
For Rodeo World Champions Lewis Feild, John Jones Jr and Super Bowl Champion Bear Pascoe, who is also a Wrangler 20x Cowboy, along with United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Jenna Smeenk, a Miss Rodeo USA Florida, our nation's birthday is providing an opportunity to assist our countries only military special operations equestrian program.
Born out of the Marine Animal Packers program which has been around for decades at the training center, the Marines implemented a speciality horsemanship course several years ago. The goal of the new program: to provide our special operations community of warriors the opportunity to familiarize and excel in horsemanship. While visions of mounted calvary can easily come to mind, the new program couldn't be farther from these thoughts. Instead service members are taught the basics of equestrian knowledge and then trained in all forms of terrain movement while on horseback. "We want service members who come through this program to not only understand the ins and outs of horsemanship, but we want them to be able to ride in all types of terrain and look natural doing it." says Tony Parkhurst, a retired Marine Master Sergeant who serves as the manager of the program for the Marine Corps.
With only a few hundred acres of actual Department of Defense designated property, the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center relies on public lands to fulfill it's training mission and this in part is why these celebrity Cowboys and Cowgirls are visiting over the 4th of July.
"We bring guests to the Mountain Training Center 3-4 times per year, usually with a focus on subject matter expert interactions surrounding the Marines core training programs," says Robi Powers of American300 adding, "Last year while visiting the center with world champion hall of fame cowboys we realized that Bridgeport is a major cattle town, so we reached out to one of the premier livestock companies and asked if we could bring Marines, Cowboys and Cattlemen together to strengthen the training centers community relations."
The result was a relationship created between American300, the Marines and the Centennial Livestock Company. "We love having the Marines on our ranch, they're always welcome," says Marcus Bunn, the manager for the Lacey and Wood Family owned Centennial Livestock Company, he adds "last year Robi and American300 guests visited us with Marines on several occasions, this year he has brought back Lewis and John along with Super Bowl Champion Bear Pascoe and a Miss Rodeo USA. They're going to be bringing Marines down to the ranch and participating in our annual Bridgeport Centennial Livestock Ranch Rodeo… the town is jacked up to meet these guys."
With designated time for the expert horsemen to spend time with Special Operations Horsemanship and Animal Packing Cadre members as well as two days worth of community interaction this years 'Wrangler American Mountain Cowboy Tour' is sure to be a total success.
For more information on American300 visit: www.american300.org
For more on the USMC MWTC visit: www.29palms.marines.mil/mcmwtc/UnitHome.aspx
American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of increasing our Armed Forces resiliency and operations expertise. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied.