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Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Cowboys for Heroes" Chuckwagons aid Fort Sam Houston

Cowboys for Heroes
Story by Roger Edison

The Chuck wagons are making ready for the 7th annual "Cowboys for Heroes" as they roll into San Antonio, Texas to support and honor the wounded warriors on Saturday, March 31, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fort Sam Houston Equestrian Center. There will be Charro demonstrations, Mutton busting, western entertainment, live music, along with great food provided by the Chuckwagon cooks that will be firing up their spits over the open fires feeding the wounded warriors of our American Armed Forces, their family members and patrons of the (MWR) Morale, Welfare and Recreation program for members of the Armed Forces.  

Colloquially known as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas,   Sam Houston.   The fort was founded in 1876 when construction finally began, though the U.S. Army attempted to secure an establishment of a permanent installation occupying the Alamo as early as 1846.  During the Mexican-America War the United States Army established a quartermaster depot at San Antonio and a training camp at San Pedro Springs.  By 1849 San Antonio was named headquarters of the United States Army Eighth Military District. At the end of World War II, the Army decided to make Fort Sam Houston the principal medical training facility.  Military Medical Training is provided by numerous elements,  including METC, AMEDD Center and School, Brooke Army Medical Center, US Army Institute of Surgical Research, The Center for Battlefield Health and Trauma, Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute, as well as many smaller organizations.  In 2011, The US Navy and Air Force medical training departments also alined joining with the US Army training under one roof.  Fort Sam Houston is the Army's largest and most important Military Medical post in the world. 

Charro Performances include internationally known Gerardo 'Jerry' Diaz.  A fourth generation charro who continues traditions that originated with his great grandfather over 150 years ago. Jerry, who makes his home in New Braunfels, Texas, operates Three Mile Creek Ranch, a 50-acre horse operation in addition to performing his horsemanship skills.  The Charro is different from Vaqueros, Ranchero , Cowboys and Rancher from their etiquette, mannerism, clothing, tradition and social status.  The traditional Charro is known for their colorful clothing and participating in coleadero y charreada, a specific type of Mexican rodeo. 

Aubrey Lenamon, with Chuck Wagons for Christ, is the event coordinator assisting  putting together this event "Cowboys for Heroes."   In their seventh year, he recruits approximately ten chuckwagons from across the nation to support in the wounded warrior project.  Additionally, each year, needing to raise around $20,000 to fund the non-profit event,  Aubrey reallies on sponsors willing to give back to those who have made such a huge sacrifice for our nation and our freedoms.  

Aubrey,  who goes by Arb for short,  spent his life working in the oil fields.  When most are retiring to golf or fishing,  Arb's life fell to pieces.  His marriage of 35 years came to a sudden end along with his career. If that wasn't enough, his health turn finding him at the doctors office more frequently.  Although, Arb wasn't giving up. He turned towards his life passions which changed his life.  Arb has always had a strong faith in God, loved being a cowboy and a strong patriot.  When many men are put to pasture in their late fifties, Arb put his passions to work heading up the non-profit support ministry called Chuck Wagons For Christ to promote the cowboy culture while serving the Lord.  
Aubrey Lenamon, with Chuck Wagons for Christ
Interviewed last year by military journalist Minnie Jones, Arb commented, "It was very humbling to have the opportunity to talk with those in recovery and see what the horrors of war can do to a person. I am amazed at the positive attitudes, they (the wounded warriors) have. I talked to one young lady who had lost a leg. She had such a great attitude that it brought tears to my eyes. She wasn't letting a thing like that slow her down. That young lady is going to do well in life. That's a testimony of what great work the Army and MWR are doing here at Fort Sam." 

DEEP FORK CATTLE COMPANY  are among the many Chuckwagons joining Arb to assist "Cowboys for Heroes." Owned and operated by David and Sherry Roberts, they reside in Chandler, Oklahoma who have made this trip several times and also assist Cowboy ministries.  Last year they were assisted by James and Donna Martin who worked as part of the DEEP FORK CATTLE COMPANY chuck wagon crew. David and Sherry travel with their wagon competing in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

4 BUCKS CHUCK WAGON of Lavernia, Texas is owned and operated by Chris and Cody Buck. Their chuckwagon manufactured by the Weber Wagon Company is well over 100 years old. Chris does custom leather work from western horse tack to fashion, guns cases or rodeo chaps. They also cater in the south and central Texas area often assisted by good friends Mark Voigt, Jim Bob Fleming and Tucker Fleming.

THE WISHBONE WAGON owned by Brian and Susan Frankum from Axtell, Texas have provided authentic chuckwagon catering for numerous years while also assisting mix of Cowboy ministries. Last year, the Frankum's were assisted by Bubba, Sabrina and Chelsie Carter as part of their chuckwagon crew. Susan states, the WISHBONE provides and unforgettable experience along with unforgettable taste. 

THE GOODE RANCH are husband and wife team Buster and Diane McSparran of Hamilton, Texas.  Buster states, "Chuck wagon people gather for many reasons, both social and informational. They swap stories and recipes. They mentor the newbies while admiring one another's wagon accoutrements. It's like going to a family reunion where you like all your relatives." 

THE ROCKIN 12+  owned by Nick Ploch of New Braunfels, Texas and assisted by his crew, Pinky Eiesman, David Snyder, and Kelvin Kramm.  Nick's grandfather operated a long time dairy farm operation called the Rockin 12, so when Nick began operating his Mitchell Wagon as a chuckwagon, he added the Plus sign to the brand. While the Rockin 12 Plus crew rarely takes the wagon outside of Texas and cook mostly for fun, they are some superb cowboy cooks that recently won first place in the Meat category at the Cowboy Country Round-Up held last February in Hondo, Texas. 

OUT YONDER WAGON from Weatherford, Texas is owned by Gary Pool.  His original 1870's Bain wagon has been used in many Chuckwagon competition with a winning reputation for Cowboy cuisine. Often catering many events from Private Parties, Wedding Rehearsal Dinners, Family Reunions, Birthday Parties or Corporate Retreats, Gary also volunteers his wagon for this worthy cause.
THE FLYING W CHUCK WAGON is owned by Gerald and Rhonda Wood from Friendswood, Texas.  Last year, the Wood's were assisted by John McVeigh, Darla Denny, Pamela Britton, Nubbin Chamblee, Karen and Faron Daigle, and Bill and Randy Brenek.  When not managing Friendswood Excavating, Gerald and Rhonda enjoy the fun of cowboy gatherings and the chuckwagon competitions.
THE FOUR C'S   Chuckwagon Cuisine Catering Company is owned and operated by Randy and Susan May of Garland, Texas. They cater throughout the Dallas and Fort Worth Metroplex.  Not limited to just chuckwagon cooking, Randy is also an expert cook master the pits of Texas Barbecue, although for cowboy and western heritage events, he works from his authentic 1895 Studebaker freight wagon converted just like Charles Goodnight did when he invented the Chuckwagon.  When Randy is not cooking, he is supporting Scouting, speaking at various groups about Texas history,  or competiting in statewide Chuckwagon competitions. Also a member of the ACWA, his goal is preserving Texas history and keeping the cowboy culture alive. 

Rocking B Ranch  Owned by Larry and Donna Barr of China Grove, Texas is a late 1880's or early 1890's Studebaker wagon.  When not competing with Chuckwagon events, Larry uses the wagon hosting over six children camps per year. 

1298 Chuck Wagon and Cuisine  owned by Ervin and Gail Richards of Corsicana, Texas is used for Circle 10 Counsel of the American Boys Scouts.  The Venturing Crew 1298 was founded in February of 2000 blacksmith program is to introduce youth and adults to the art of shaping metal into useful and pleasing forms.  The group needing a means of cooking, added the 1914 International Harvester wagon converting into a fully operatioonal chuckwagon that supports scouting when not competing or supporting other fellowship programs. 

THE J BAR D  from Spring, Texas is owned by John 'JK' McKee assisted by Renea Prinz.  John enjoys repairing and restoring old wagons.  Besides cooking authentic cowboy cuisine, John enjoys taking his chuckwagon to the road hitched to his team of mules for parades.
J Bar D photo courtesy John McKee 
THE ROCKING T CHUCK WAGON Owners Lonnie and Barbara Tegeler are well seasoned cooks with their 100 year old family owned chuckwagon. The wagon was used by Lonnie's grandfather hauling grain at the turn of the 20th century. Retiring in the 1950's, the wagon remained stored in the barn until Lonnie pulled it out and restored converting it into a chuckwagon. While the wagon today has been enjoyed by five generations of the Tegeler family, it also was recently were featured on the Food Network Special from the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Barbare Tegeler was defending her previous Champion Apricot Cobbler. The Rocking T Chuckwagon competes in chuckwagon cooking events through out Texas and the Southwest while providing genuine cowboy cooking for private events. Lonnie is also member and former President of the American Chuck Wagon Association.

TMT CATTLE COMPANY owned by Shirley Richardson of Bryson, Texas and family members Teresa Mae Lawson and Allen Lawson of Jacksboro, Texas enjoy competing, catering and using their wagon with ministries.

THE ELLIS CATTLE COMPANY  is owned by Charlie and Janice Ellis of Papalote, Texas. Often assisted by Pastor David Parks of  Goliad Trail Head Cowboy Church and his wife Shelley.  Charlie's wagon is a converted turn of the century 1900 John Deere Wagon. His wagon also has a front storage in addition to the the chuck box and boot that folds down for easy access. Annually Charlie and his wife supports the King Ranch-Ranch hand breakfast when not catering throughout south Texas or competing.
The Ellis Cattle Company,  David Parks, Charlie Ellis, Shelly and Janice
Part of the entertainment includes several bands performing music and cowboy poets. Buck Helton, of Dallas, Texas  is a master of Cowboyology that will also perform with his acts from story telling, singing, with his rootin, tootin, six-gun shootin, yodeling cowboy voice and larger than life personality.  

Through the "COWBOYS for HEROES" the wounded warriors, (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines) along with their families really get to enjoy the events, crafts, entertainment along with superb Chuckwagon cooking.  Additionally, receiving a warm Texas hospitality' that is unique to San Antonio.  It is through the strong partnership between the San Antonio community with Fort Sam Houston along with the many volunteers and sponsorships help make this event happen.   To assist or provide support for "Cowboys for Heroes" contact Aubrey Lenamon email on how you can contribute. 

        Buck Helton

Gerardo 'Jerry' Diaz

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