All American Beef Battalion volunteers cook steaks for soldiers and their families
July 19, 2017
Bill Broadie's office ought to be a museum both to the cattle industry and the Armed Services. Broadie, a third-generation cattleman and longtime Superior representative, has filled his Ashland, Kan., office with photos and an awe-inspiring collection of Challenge coins.
The coins bear the motto and symbols of the unit of the servicemen who exchanged the coin in a handshake of appreciation and the huge number of coins are a reflection of the mutual respect Broadie shares with the troops he serves.
After returning home from Vietnam to the poor reception many servicemen experienced, Broadie knew he didn't want others to experience the same. Nearly a decade ago, Broadie called Jim Odle, the owner of Superior Livestock in Brush, Colo., with what he calls the crazy idea of serving ribeye steak dinners to active duty servicemen and women on bases around the country. Odle was on board and the All American Beef Battalion began with a small board and a handful of volunteers. Since then, the group has served nearly 335,000 steak dinners across 24 states.
The Beef Battalion operates entirely on donations, many of which are made by ranches like Cross Diamond Red Angus in Bertrand, Neb., whose owners believe in the program. Owners Scott and Kim Ford donate the proceeds from Lot 21 in their sale, the lot they've dubbed the 21 Gun Salute. Several sale barns host rollover auctions annually, some donating over $50,000 each year. The Beef Battalion counts the Colorado Corn Growers among their major donors as well.
The group owns a number of trailers to carry supplies and cook the meals, all of which are prepared and served at no charge. No salaries are paid to any of the board members or volunteers and much of the equipment is purchased by volunteers themselves.
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The group cooked steak dinners for a group of soldiers and their families at Fort Carson on Saturday, July 15. Despite a downpour as the group began serving, the dinner was served and hundreds of steak dinners were boxed and delivered to personnel on base.
Broadie recalls one military family he had the pleasure of serving around Christmastime. A young mother and daughter came through the line and the mother, whose husband was overseas on active duty as the holidays approached, told her daughter to hug Broadie. She explained to the young girl that he was serving the meal because of what her dad was doing. Broadie still chokes up a bit recalling telling the young girl and mother that serving them one day was the least he could do since they serve their country every day.
Of the 20 months Broadie spent in the Marine Corps, seven months were spent in the hospital so he said he understands the sacrifices made by military members and their families. He often says that he doesn't know many ranchers who wouldn't buy a soldier a steak and he hopes cattlemen and related groups will take interest in the group and donate to allow the meals to continue.
To donate, visit http://www.steaksfortroops.com or like All American Beef Battalion on Facebook. ❖