NORAD, USNORTHCOM saddle up for annual rodeo
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Local military members and their families wrapped up five days of western fun Sunday during the final day of the 67th Annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo at the Norris-Penrose Event Center.
Two wild cow milking teams made up of personnel assigned to North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command – the "Canadian Milkers" and "Cudslingers" – came in first and second, respectively, in competition Thursday night. Both teams returned to the arena Sunday to compete for overall honors in the finals, but were out-milked by a team from Fort Carson.
"It's just craziness," said Cudslingers team member Tech. Sgt. Manuel Buelna, an Area of Responsibility Intelligence Analyst with the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Intelligence Directorate. "We planned, and we had strategy, but that all went out the window once the gates opened (to release the cows)."
Rodeo events also included Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned steer wrestling, bareback and saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, bull riding, team roping and women's barrel racing.
The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is a charitable organization dedicated to funding programs and services that benefit local military personnel and their families.
"It goes way back to our proud frontier heritage and patriotic feelings," said Bill Tutt, chairman of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Association. "Following World War II, we made a conscious decision that proceeds from the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo would always go to our military families. Since 1946, we've dedicated the performances to the military and the various installations (in the Colorado Springs area)."
Thursday night's rodeo performance spotlighted NORAD and USNORTHCOM, and the organizations' commander, Gen. Gene Renuart, and his wife, Jill Renuart, kicked off the show from horseback.
"First, (participating in the rodeo) is helping ourselves," Renuart said in an interview earlier that day. "The proceeds that come from the rodeo each year are put right back into a variety of programs right here in the Colorado Springs area that help our military familes and our individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. And so, we owe it to ourselves to invest in helping each other.
"Second, it's important for communities like Colorado Springs to feel that the military (personnel and families) assigned in their communities are part of their family. And they ought to be able to rely on us to help when the cause is right."
Every year, many personnel from NORAD and USNORTHCOM and other military organizations participate and volunteer in Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo activities. This year, a float created by the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Senior Enlisted Council won the Gen. William Palmer Trophy in the rodeo parade held July 7. And scores of NORAD and USNORTHCOM staff volunteered to help direct traffic, assist vendors, take tickets and perform other duties during performances.
"The rodeo is a community event that brings all of us together to celebrate our heritage, our past and our western lifestyle," Tutt said. "At the end of the day, it serves a wonderful cause. The spectators and sponsors really get their money's worth from a great, fun, family event. It's a way to support a good cause and have fun at the same time."
It's the responsibility of military personnel assigned to NORAD and USNORTHCOM to support the community that is their home, Renuart said.
"(The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo) allows us to help support programs that actually take care of our people," he said. "But it's really also a way, maybe most importantly, for us to show our friends in the community that we're a part of their family."
NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. USNORTHCOM is the unified combatant command responsible for defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities.