Undisclosed Areas of Operation Africa – For the past seven years Wrangler professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls along with Nashville Artists have traveled to remote U.S. Armed Forces Bases around the world to salute and honor our Troops on Memorial Day.
This year, five-time world champion hall of fame cowboy Rob Smets, of Texas will be joining the all-star line up in taking hats off for our Troops.
With past tours having taken the Wrangler Team to: Iraq, Afghanistan, Alaska and Pacific Commands multiple times, this years tour will be placing cowboy boots in the dirt of the sub-Sahara and Horn of Africa.
Accustomed to the atmospheric mood shift that occurs on Memorial Day each year, the professional rodeo athletes and musicians have perfected the art of raising spirits while solemnly honoring the ultimate sacrifices that have been made by our service members.
“This tour was created to fulfill a request by DoD Armed Forces Entertainment, our normal programming is mentor motivational oriented which is in part what this tour is all about, but the deeper goal was to place special guests with our troops during the end of May, that truly understand what Memorial Day is all about.” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, adding, “We asked senior military leaders 8 years ago, what they thought of placing champion cowboys and cowgirls with their teams on Memorial Day, and the response was overwhelming positive… one General said it’d be as Americana as you can, which is what we were looking for during this hollowed week.”
It didn’t take more then a phone call to put this now traditional tour in motion. Powers, called his friend Jeff Chadwick, a director with Wrangler Jeanswear and explained the concept of a yearly tour and need for highly vetted special guests.
Chadwick, didn’t waste anytime reaching out to his Wrangler endorsees. “As soon as I picked up the phone and put the word out that we’d be partnering with American300 and Armed Forces Entertainment every Memorial Day week each year, my voice mail box maxed out, the response was amazing,” recalls Chadwick, who himself was a professional rodeo cowboy before starting to work for Wrangler 20 years ago. He adds, “It says a lot about the western lifestyle community that so many wanted to go on this tour each year, even though the timing of the tour comes during one of the most important competition periods of the season.”
Unlike, the nonprofits stable of Olympians and other professional athletes who head out on military mentor tours during their ‘off seasons’, this Memorial Day Tour places the Cowboys and Cowgirls with our Troops right smack in the middle of their competitive season.
“Sure I’m loosing some income to go on this tour, but when you balance that with the fact that sports events in America take place for the very reason that our freedoms and safety are protected by our Armed Forces Service Members – it’s a no brainer – our Troops come first.” says Rob Smets, who in retirement from Bullfighting now works as a broadcaster and emcee within the industry.
Whether sharing stories or listening to the same, the Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls along with Nashville star have perfected the art of being with our troops. This year with the addition of Smets, there’s an even larger sense of sacrifice being shared.
“Rob spent decades throwing his body in front of 2,000+ pound jacked up bulls in an effort to give bull riders the necessary seconds needed to get up off the arena floor to safety,” says Chadwick, adding, “ the troops are going to relate to Rob’s career and most importantly Rob, like all the Wrangler Team members are going to convey the deepest appreciation on behalf of our entire western way of life.”
This year’s Wrangler Patriots include: Annie ‘Outlaw Annie’ Bianco, world champion mounted shooting cowgirl, Brittney Truman, professional cowgirl and Miss Rodeo Arizona, Rob Smets, world champion bullfighter, Lucas Hoge, Nashville country music artist and the lead guitarist from his Lucas Hoge Band, Thomas Becker. The group will be led by Jeff Chadwick, former professional cowboy and Director with Wrangler Corporation and Robi Powers, founder American300 Tours and volunteer tour leader for DoD Armed Forces Entertainment office.
With a goal of ‘Day in the Life’ type experience sharing with our Troops and evenings kicking back to the sounds of Nashville’s Lucas Hoge – this Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour is once again headed overseas… to Salute and Honor our Troops.