ProRodeo Sports News

Selections from the ProRodeo Sports News: The official publication of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

Click here to subscribe!

Hall of famers mark cowboy christmas by saluting our troops

There is no more patriotic date on this country’s calendar than the Fourth of July. It’s tradition that we celebrate Cowboy Christmas in communities coast to coast with professional rodeos at the heart of annual Independence Day festivities. So it seemed fitting that a couple of ProRodeo Hall of Famers spent their Cowboy Christmas week celebrating our troops, who they see as this country’s true heroes. In support of American soldiers, Lewis Feild, John W. Jones Jr. and the Wrangler National Patriot Series’ American Mountain Cowboys Tour spent July 2-5 visiting the United States Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadows, Calif. 

The American Mountain Cowboys Tour was stop two of this year’s Wrangler National Patriot Series, with Feild’s son and reigning World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee making tour stop one in the Pacific over the Memorial Day holiday. It was Kaycee’s fourth annual Wrangler National Patriot trip, with the first to Iraq and the second two to Afghanistan. The final stop of this year’s series will be over the Veteran’s Day holiday in November. The Wrangler National Patriot Series is organized by American300, which was founded by veteran Rob Powers with the mission of “increasing the resiliency of our American Armed Forces members, their families and the communities in which they live and operate.”

Feild and Jones made the journey to honor and support the Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in the high country of Northern California, where the Marines and other military branches have conducted specialized training on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range since 1951. Both living legends left feeling like they got more out of the expedition than anyone they went to see.

“Those military men and women are serving our country, they’re putting their lives on the line and they’re appreciative of us?” said Feild of Elk Ridge, Utah. “I felt honored to get to spend the time with them, as they trained them to survive in mountain conditions like they might face in war. It was really interesting to get to go through the training with them on packing animals for military use. We became friends with those guys. They’re just cool people.”

“It was great to get to meet those guys and spend time with them,” added Jones of Morro Bay, Calif. “We spent time with them horseback when we moved cattle, and learned to pack animals with them, which I found totally interesting. They learn to pack, because in a war they might need to move anything from supplies to ammunition and even people in the mountains in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. They learn on horses and mules, but in a war they might have to pack elephants, llamas, camels or even dogs, if it comes to that. They prepare those guys to do whatever it takes.

“If everyone had the chance to get to see what the troops do and how they do it, people would be much more appreciative of our military. They’re good people from all over the country, and they have the toughest job of all. The Marines are a brotherhood of fine young men and women, and that bond reminds you of the camaraderie among cowboys. There’s a lot of respect there.”

The purpose of the Wrangler National Patriot Series is to boost the morale and welfare of the U.S. Armed Services through unique mentoring opportunities between world-class professional cowboys, Western industry officials and service members. The WNPS is produced by Powers’ American300. Powers has taken special guests to more than 300 military bases around the world since forming the non-profit organization in 2009.

“Our mission is to connect amazing Americans with our troops, making for one-on-one discussions that lead to better understanding,” Powers said. 

Feild and Jones traveled with Powers to Kyrgyzstan last spring on a Department of State mission, a trip that was also part of the Wrangler National Patriot Series. “It’s so much fun to get to interact with the troops, and I’m always amazed by how appreciative they are of us in our support of them and all they do,” Feild said. “This series stop was especially well timed with the significance of the Fourth of July, because the Fourth of July is a celebration of our country’s independence and the troops are protecting our independence. Their rodeo knowledge ranges from knowing all about it and loving it to knowing very little and being very curious to know more about it. It’s a lot of fun to share our world with them. These are great young people we should all be very proud of. It was just a very humbling experience to get to spend time with them.”

“The young people in our military are prepared and ready to defend our country at a moment’s notice,” Jones said. “They’re professionals, and they’re training all the time. They are proud and willing to step up on our country’s behalf, and they deserve to be thanked and recognized for that dedication and sacrifice. For as tough as Marines are, it was also really impressive to see what polite people they are in every circumstance, whether on the base or in town.”

They spent time as a group and one-on-one, talking of physical and mental survival techniques, some of which are common in both rodeo and war. 

“We were there to show our appreciation of the troops,” Feild said. “If I can make those soldiers’ day a little better then I feel like a little better American for doing it. Most Marines would make great rodeo cowboys. They just have that attitude about them. We have a lot in common the way we think about things. They’re fighters, and they’re not afraid. If you’re going to be a Marine, you know you’re going to fight. They go in first and clear the way. They’re very honorable and they’re very brave. They’re just tough guys, and they enjoy what they’re doing because they want to be there. The same can be said about cowboys. It’s a life we choose.”

“When we left, they told us, ‘Hey, thanks for caring,’ ” Jones said. “Our military people are very humble and you’d never hear it from them, but they’re the heroes.”

Lewis Feild, Sergeant Major James Kirkland and John W. Jones Jr. headed to ride in the Bridgeport (Calif.) July 4th Parade.
Copyright © 2018 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. All rights reserved. No portion of may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Terms of Use.
PRCA Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Justin Boots Playoffs Xtreme Bulls RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo ProRodeo Gear