I’m a Drover

At first glance, Bill Brodie comes across as a tough customer. Brown hair, sprinkled with gray, is covered by a stiff-crowned ball cap, partially shielding skin weathered from years spent out in the sun. Taking a step, his right leg remains stiff — wooden memorabilia from the jungles of Vietnam.

On second glance, there is a gentleness detected. Soft eyes glimmer with orneriness, revealing compassion and wisdom found only from a man who has seen suffering and beauty in the world most can’t imagine.

It was 1966. During the heat of the Vietnam War, the Ashland, Kan., ranch kid had his heart set on joining the Marines fresh out of high school.

“I’d always wanted to be a Marine and wanted to see if I could make it through the training,” Brodie says. “Guess I must have watched too many John Wayne movies.”

When asked what the training was like, he just laughs and simply says, “Have you ever tried swimming in sand? It was tough. It was real tough.”

By the time Brodie’s platoon graduated boot camp, 85 percent of them had orders to ship out to Vietnam. By April 10, 1967, Brodie’s boots hit the ground on foreign soil. At the time, there was a huge push to get troops through training and into action.

Four months later, Brodie was hit after tripping a booby trap. And by Sept. 7, 1967, he took a bullet straight to the bone of his right leg, severing the arteries. When he was airlifted out the following day, gangrene had set in and his leg had to be amputated.

“I was in a tourniquet for 24 hours, but it beat bleeding out,” says the veteran, matter-of-factly. “My wounds compared to so many of the other men’s were not that catastrophic.”

Admitting losing his leg was more of a mental challenge than physical challenge, he’s found ways to see the silver lining.

“I’d been sorting a load of heifers for these two brothers one day, and my partner stopped by after I’d left. They said to him, ‘That was the toughest man we’ve ever seen. An 800-pound heifer kicked him as she ran by and it sounded like kicking a corner post. He never even broke a stride,’” recalls Brodie with a chuckle. “If there is a kicking steer or a biting dog, I just feed them that wood leg and let everyone think I’m tough.”

His Linda

While a junior in high school, Brodie met the woman he describes as the biggest blessing in his life. The Christmas before he shipped out to Vietnam, he asked his high school sweetheart, Linda, to marry him. The couple made plans to wed as soon as he returned from the war.

“And she was still foolish enough to marry me when I got back,” he says.

After getting out of the hospital, the couple exchanged vows on July 27, 1968. They were married for 43.5 years until Linda passed away Jan. 2, 2012.

“She put up with a lot for me,” he says, pausing. “The war changed me a little. Changed me in ways I can’t describe.”

Once married, Brodie set out to earn a degree in business and administration from Fort Hays State University, while Linda finished up her degree in accounting.

The couple had their first child, Barrett, in 1970, before graduating together in 1971. They later had a daughter, Amy. With a degree in hand, Brodie took his family back to Ashland to the wheat and stocker/feeder cattle operation. Strapped for cash and armed with work experience he describes as, “being an American soldier and American cowboy — and there wasn’t a high demand for either of those,” Brodie took an opportunity working for Superior Livestock Auction in 1989 and celebrated his 25th anniversary with the company last month.

All American Beef Battalion

One day, while beating down the road to eastern Colorado to ship cattle, Brodie tuned into a mainstream media station on satellite radio. What he heard upset him.

“They were talking about all the bad things that were happening in war zones with today’s soldiers and never mentioned the good they were doing, like building schools or bringing clean water,” he says, reflecting on his days after returning home from Vietnam.

“We were treated so poorly by many of our own countrymen when we arrived home, and I felt like the media was showing similar behavior,” Brodie says. “And I just thought, ‘how can we, mainly being the beef industry, thank these soldiers for what they do for us every day?’”

And so his dream was born — a dream to feed a steak to every soldier serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Shortly after, Brodie shared his idea with his boss, Jim Odle, then general manager of Superior Livestock Auction.

“He told me, ‘We can do this,’” Brodie says, and two years later on April 26, 2008, the All American Beef Battalion (AABB) served its first troops in Olathe, Kan., at a Kansas National Guard unit. The majority of the two-year time period was getting past the “red tape,” Brodie says, to where they were approved to return service to the men and women who served them. Through a customer, who happened to be an active duty lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Brodie was able to get the ball rolling.

To date, AABB has served a quarter of a million troops and their families. With destinations that include 16 states and multiple bases, it takes a strong group of volunteers to keep the project in motion.

“I’ve got a core group of around 50 volunteers that is just phenomenal. Most are in the livestock industry, but not all of them are,” he says. “They’re all good American people who love this country and appreciate what these men and women do for us.”

There are also crucial volunteers serving behind the scenes, such as Tim Kirby of Kirby Meat Company, Dodge City, Kan. Kirby picks beef up from area packing plants and ages it 35-40 days in his cooler. He then cuts the meat down to steaks, repackages it and freezes it for AABB, all on his own time.

Jon Fort, who Brodie refers to as “second in command”’ and Bill Harmon and Mike Arnold supply all the necessary equipment to do the cooking.

And the list goes on.

“The steaks we feed our troops are so tender, you can cut them with a plastic knife,” Brodie says. “It’s amazing.”

At each event, Brodie gives words of wisdom and encouragement to troops about mental and physical hardships they may be going through. Some of the returning troops are members of the Wounded Warrior Project.

“I want these kids who have these tremendous wounds to know the only thing that’s going to stop them is their brain. In reality, you have an inconvenience, not a disability,” he says. “Learn to deal with it, handle it and go on.

“I also tell them that the beef industry supports them and from then on, they’re to say no to chicken and fowl,” he chuckles.

Last year, AABB held 26 steak feeds across the country. The group is fully funded through donations from the generosity of the beef industry.

For those wanting to get involved, go to steaksfortroops.com.

“It’s been a tremendous gift and honor to be able to be involved in this,” he concludes. “But this is about our troops — about the men and women who have stepped up to serve our country and thanking them by doing what we can do to serve them back.”

Article courtesy of

Amanda Alexander lost her husband and father of three children in Afghanistan yet she assists others at Fort Sill with Gold Star Family

Amanda Alexander

Living up to the slogan “Army Strong” Amanda Alexander is the poster child for strength. Her husband Lt Toby Alexander was killed in Afghanistan a year and a half ago and today the “The Steel Warriors” his battalion is still her greatest source of strength. She is making a huge difference with others that have lost loved ones through The Gold Star Family organization needs more attention.

 

National Livestock to Auction Calf Benefiting the All American Beef Battalion

National Livestock Credit Corporation and affiliated companies announce their support, once again, for the All American Beef Battalion.

On December 16th, the Oklahoma National Stockyards will auction a calf for the benefit of the All American Beef Battalion. The sale will take place at approximately 11:00 a.m. in the sale arena of the Stockyards.

Read more here.

Safeway-Cargill Donate Mobile Kitchen To All American Beef Battalion

Honoring more United States military personnel with steak dinners is now possible with a major donation from Safeway’s Rancher’s Reserve beef brand to the All American Beef Battalion, a Dodge City, KS-based nonprofit volunteer group that works to provide 18- to 20-ounce rib eye steak dinners to American service members and their families. Cargill is a major supplier to Safeway for its Ranchers Reserve beef.

Safeway is donating a large mobile grilling unit valued at approximately $50,000, which contains nearly 1,800-cubic-feet of grilling space on wheels. The trailer is self-sufficient and can simultaneously grill approximately 60 steaks. From the kitchen prep space to the serving area, this mobile grilling unit includes everything required to serve rib eye steaks to thousands of military personnel and their families.

For his achievements in support of U.S. military personnel, Bill Broadie, founder of the Battalion, was recognized at the recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) convention. There, Safeway staff members took note of Broadie and began the relationship. Additionally, BEEF magazine named Broadie its 2012 Trailblazer Award recipient for creating the All American Beef Battalion.

Broadie’s passion for the beef industry, in addition to his experience as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps., inspired him to form the battalion.  “I’ve been in the beef industry my entire life and I’m now 65,” said Broadie. “America has some of the greatest beef products in the world, and thanking our brave troops by providing steak dinners is a way to give them a little something back for their service to our nation.”

The grilling unit sports a new and patriotic graphic wrap that reflects the Battalion’s dedication to America’s troops and for providing them with delicious, tender, nutritious steak dinners. The trailer will make its debut June 21 at Walter Reed Medical Center, and be featured at the 2013 Safeway Barbecue Battle in Washington, D.C.

“Safeway takes great pride in providing nutritious food to our customers and nurturing the lives of our neighbors,” said Jim Sheeran, vice president, corporate meat merchandising for Safeway. “By donating a mobile grilling unit, nutritious steak dinners will now be provided to even more of those who protect and serve our country.”

all american beef battalion interioSince 2008, the Battalion has served steak dinners to approximately 170,000 military service members and their families. The Battalion consists of a core group of volunteer, primarily military veterans, from Kansas, and also includes volunteers from Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
“One hundred percent of the money the All American Beef Battalion receives goes to our mission of providing steaks to our military personnel and their families,” explained Broadie. “The donation of this mobile grilling unit is a tremendous boost to our cause, making it easier to prepare and serve food to more troops while attracting more volunteers and support.”

Bill Broadie Named 20th BEEF Trailblazer

As a 19-year-old leatherneck with the 2nd Battalion-4th Marines in Vietnam, Bill Broadie loved walking point during combat patrols. He was good at it. He noticed the slightest sign of disturbed soil or misplaced foliage – signals of enemy booby traps and ambushes.

Perhaps it was a skill honed in years of working cattle with his father, or all that time spent outdoors as a Boy Scout. “The two times I was wounded in Vietnam, I was in the middle of the column,” he says.

The second wound cost Broadie a leg, a difficult reality for the former standout athlete. More hurtful in the long term, however, was the nation’s ingratitude toward those sent to fight that unpopular war.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and setbacks in the war in Iraq, Broadie saw similar public sentiment arising toward the nation’s military. He was determined that his experience wouldn’t be replayed for these new warriors.

Broadie is back walking point again as founder of the All-American Beef Battalion, a non-profit organization dedicated to thanking the nation’s military by providing a steak dinner to every U.S. soldier. More than 130,000 steaks have been served to deploying and returning U.S. soldiers thus far.

For his efforts, Broadie is the 2012 recipient of BEEF magazine’s Trailblazer Award

Article courtesy of Beef Magazine.

Ranchers support our troops

Cattle producers across the nation honor and support our American troops by raising money to benefit the All American Beef Battalion (AABB) during the Mile High Classic Red Angus Sale during the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado. All proceeds from the sale of CrsDiamnd 21 Gun Salute (RAAA #1402318) will be donated to the AABB. A huge Thank You to Cross Diamond Cattle Company, Silver Spur Ranches, Horsley Red Angus and Archadia Land and Cattle Company for their support of our cause. Read full article here.

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