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:

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:   

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 - 

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