Story and photos by Geoffrey Roper
Soldiers from the 4th Engineer Battalion and their Family members were treated to a big welcome-home steak dinner Feb. 24 at the Special Events Center, thanks to a group called the All-American Beef Battalion.
Bill Broadie, founder of the organization, said he came up with the idea when he was in his truck, listening to news about the war, as he drove down the road while shipping cattle in Colorado.
“I’m born and raised in the beef industry and served in the United States Marine Corps,” he said. “And I just kinda blended the two.”
Broadie said he brought the idea up with some friends, and soon a number of other people were willing to help, giving their time and money to make it happen. The group started cooking back in April 2008, and have served more than 25,000 Soldiers and Family members. Since then, the All-American Beef Battalion has traveled all around the country as a way of thanking men and women in the military for their service to their country. He said they plan to serve thousands more in the future.
“It’s just some way for us to say thank you to them and let them know we care about them,” said Broadie.
One of the other members of the group, director Jon Fort, said he did not have to think long when Broadie to him asked him to volunteer.
“Just being asked; it’s simple,” said Fort. “There’s nothing more pleasurable than saying thank you to all these men and women.”
Sgt. Tyrone Kirk, 4th Eng. Bn., comes from the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas, a state where beef is steeped in its history. As he walked into the Special Events Center, he said he knows a good steak when he sees one.
“It’s gonna be great,” he said. “A big juicy steak; I’m looking forward to it.”
The person responsible for putting the event together was Lindsay Hill, an adviser with the Family readiness group.
She said she had heard about the group from a friend,and looked them up on the Internet. She found out the 4th Eng. Bn. qualified for the feast after speaking to someone with the All-American Beef Battalion, and couldn’t wait to set a date to get the group to the post.
“Basically it’s all about support and commitment,” she said. “It’s the least that we can do back here … just to let (the Soldiers) know that we encourage them and support them … just to build their morale.”
The meal consisted of more than just the 50-day aged rib-eye steaks cooked in a smoker. There were also all the sides, including baked beans, green beans and rolls. Based on the smiles on the Soldiers’ faces, it seemed this was one of the better meals they have had since being deployed for more than a year in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fort summed the day up when he talked about all the times his organization has had the chance to cook for the men and women of the military.
“We’ve had the opportunity to (see) the hugs and joys of returning (Soldiers), the tears of leaving and the heartache of those that are wounded and recovering,” he said. “So, it’s pretty spectacular.”