For the third consecutive year, World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild, set aside his Memorial Day week to visit troops serving in Middle East war zones as part of the Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Tour.
Feild, of Payson, UT, was joined on the tour by World Champion mounted shooter, Annie Bianco-Ellett; 2009 Miss Rodeo America, Maegan Ridley; country musician Lucas Hoge and Wrangler executive Jeff Chadwick.
"I'm so honored to be a part of this tour each year," Feild said. "We have this once-a-year opportunity to bring our Western spirit, the loyalty and devotion of the entire Western community to the troops ... nothing is more important to me. Our troops have to know just how much their service to our country means to guys like me and cowboys everywhere."
The tour means so much to Feild, that he even wears it on his sleeves.
"Last year we had one of Kaycee's competition shirts signed by troops while traveling all over Afghanistan," Chadwick said. "Kaycee wore the shirt on the final night of the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo ... and won! We're going to continue the tradition this year."
Missing rodeos is no joking matter in the year-long pursuit to determine who will capture the gold buckle, and for reigning World Champion Feild, the benefits still outweigh the lost earnings-points.
"Kaycee, like all of our guests, is completely dedicated to our mission of bringing great Americans to the Troops," said Rob Powers of American300, the non-profit responsible for organizing the tour each year for the U.S. Department of Defense. "Three years ago we were flying around Iraq, visiting all the tiny outposts and last year we were in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan doing the same. This year ... well, we're not allowed to talk about locations yet, but it's going to be one heck of a rodeo-style ride to places that troops don't get visitors ... Kaycee and the crew are veterans in their own right now."
American300 added a second Western-themed tour this year, involving two Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame members - Kaycee's five-time world champion dad Lewis Feild, and three-time World Champion Steer Wrestler John W. Jones Junior - and current saddle bronc riding star Cort Scheer. They went to Kyrgyzstan on a United States Embassy cultural exchange tour.
"I'm so stoked for Dad," Feild said. "He and Mom have been watching the press and images from the past tours to the Middle East that I've been on ... and now, thanks to American300 and the U.S. State Department, Dad is going to get a taste of touring half way around the world too."
Since 2010, the younger Feild has been the Wrangler Corporation's official Pro Cowboy Ambassador to the newly created Wrangler National Patriot program, an effort by Wrangler and Professional Rodeo committees across the country to raise funds and awareness for our fallen and wounded armed forces members. To date, the program has raised more than half a million dollars.
For more on the Wrangler National Patriot Program, visit www.wranglernationalpatriot.com.