Story and photos by Walt Johnson
The Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo family once again honored the men and women of the Fort Carson community July 14 at the Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs at the 70th annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.
The rodeo is one of the many community projects that recognizes the courage and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform. Over the past 70 years the partnership between the rodeo and the military community in Colorado Springs has been one of mutual respect and admiration. Since the end of World War II, the rodeo’s proceeds have gone to Colorado Springs military and community charities. The rodeo has contributed more than $1.5 million dollars to military charities, which includes Fort Carson programs.
Rodeo and civil officials got the first chance to recognize the military community July 14 and they did it by honoring 57 Soldiers, selected by their senior leadership to represent the post and the many military men and women in uniform. The 57 Soldiers each received a Rotary Club medal from Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general,4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, and Division Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey. Perkins thanked the Rotary Club for recognizing the men and women who represented the post and then he and Dailey gave each member of the group their medallion and a salute for their service to the nation.
After the awards ceremony, the Soldiers got a few minutes to walk around and soak up the festivities of the evening. The Soldiers and their families got a chance to take part in or view a lot of the pre-rodeo activities, such as a pony merry-go-round and a popular demonstration by some talented pigs.
About 30 minutes before the start of the rodeo, the Soldiers gathered on the north end of the stadium to get briefed on their role in the upcoming pre-rodeo ceremonies. As the troops walked into the stadium the buzz from the pre-rodeo festivities gave way to a rousing ovation, led by Perkins, as the troops marched sharply into the arena’s north end. During the pre-rodeo festivities the crowd was also treated to an entrance into the stadium by Dana Bowman, a former Special Forces Soldier and a retiree who lost both his legs during service to our nation. After losing his legs Bowman still stayed on active duty to serve the country and now serves as a motivational speaker whose motto is “It’s not the disability, it’s the ability.”
Prior to the national anthem, rodeo officials introduced Perkins, who had great words of praise for the rodeo and the Soldiers who stood in the stadium.
“It is a huge honor as the commander of the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson to be here representing the tens of thousands of Soldiers and families that serve you in all parts of our nation in the wonderful tradition of Fort Carson, as they put it on the line every single day. It’s an additional honor to be here on the 70th anniversary of this rodeo and your commitment to serve not only the community here but also the men and women who wear the uniform of our nation,” General Perkins said.
“While we spend our time together tonight we will keep in our memory the thousands of Soldiers from Fort Carson that are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan who are making sure that we can have another 70 years of rodeo dedicated to our nation and those who serve it. I can tell you as someone who wears the uniform of this nation that it is great to come out to events like this where we have great Americans out there who will take time out to appreciate those who serve our nation and it makes us proud to wear the uniform and it makes us proud to serve you,” Perkins said.
After the pre-rodeo festivities ended with the national anthem, it was time for people to sit back and enjoy the rodeo which the overflow crowd did.