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HTX Rodeo 2014
A warm salute

Rodeo rolls out welcome mat for U.S. military, including an 88-year-old WWII veteran — thanks to volunteers

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News, Shelby, Renee Brown, Maj. Kevin Smith, Carol Sawyer, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Renee Brown, left, Major Kevin Smith and Carol Sawyer. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Carrie Carr serves chili, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Armed Forces Appreciation Committee member Carrie Carr serves chili to the troops. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, happy day for military families,Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Medal of Honor recipient Ty Carter, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Medal of Honor recipient Ty Carter interviewed for RodeoHouston video. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, chili cookers, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Committee members cook up chili for the troops. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Ike Hargraves, Renee Brown, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
World War II vet Ike Hargraves and Renee Brown. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Lee Smith, Todd McCorquodale, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Armed Forces Appreciation Committee members Lee Smith, left, and Todd McCorquodale. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, soldiers pour in, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
By day's end, 4,000 servicemen and their families would be welcomed. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, committee member, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Committee members are proud to serve. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, the military brass arrives, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
The military brass arrives for Armed Forces Appreciation Day activities. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Leslie Romas, Valerie Willhoite, Laurin Nabors, Amber Hatfield,Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Leslie Romas, from left, Valerie Willhoite, Laurin Nabors and Amber Hatfield. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Tod Fitzgerald, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Tod Fitzgerald spent much of the day slicing beef. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Roy Hughes, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
World War II vet Roy Hughes gets a rodeo welcome. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Arneta Sampson, Cristen Steele, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
BHP Billiton volunteers Arneta Sampson, left, and Cristen Steele. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Memory wall, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
Donations of $500 earn a spot on the memory boards for veterans' photos. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Renee Brown, Maj. Kevin Smith, Carol Sawyer, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Carrie Carr serves chili, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, happy day for military families,Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Medal of Honor recipient Ty Carter, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, chili cookers, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Ike Hargraves, Renee Brown, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Lee Smith, Todd McCorquodale, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, soldiers pour in, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, committee member, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, the military brass arrives, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Leslie Romas, Valerie Willhoite, Laurin Nabors, Amber Hatfield,Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Tod Fitzgerald, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Roy Hughes, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Arneta Sampson, Cristen Steele, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014
News, Shelby, Memory wall, Rodeo Armed Services Day, March 2014

There is much about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that is heartwarming, but surely nothing beats the gratification that comes from serving on the Armed Forces Appreciation Committee. Each year during Armed Forces Appreciation Day, the 160 committee members host veterans and active duty servicemen, servicewomen and their families for a day of barbecue feasting, carnival activities and the rodeo performance.

By the time the barbecue volunteers and the greeters packed it in late Wednesday afternoon, the committee had served close to 4,000 military and their families, many of them arriving by school bus transport.

They came from Ft. Hood, Ft. Sam Houston, Ellington Field and neighboring communities. They represented those from the "greatest generation" of World War II veterans, Vietnam vets, other veterans and new recruits who would be part of the group swearing-in ceremonies later in the afternoon. Among them was Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, who shared his tale of heroism with all who asked. The Marine Corps Marching Band from San Diego flew in to entertain.

Among those greeting the fresh arrivals was 88-year-old World War II veteran Ike Hargraves in full Navy seaman's uniform, medals gleaming. 

With assistance from appreciation day sponsor BHP Billiton, the volunteers raise the money to host the troops and their families and have enough left over to support five scholarships. Formed in 2010, the event has grown from originally 500 service people to Wednesday's mega field of visitors.

The action takes place in The Hideout, which from noon to 5 p.m. on this day, becomes party headquarters for appreciation day ceremonies. 

In relation to the other committees, Larry Schmiel said, "With the other committees you're raising money for scholarships. This is different. It's like an immediate thing." He added that 60 percent of the men on the committee are veterans themselves.

Among those greeting the fresh arrivals was 88-year-old World War II veteran Ike Hargraves in full Navy seaman's uniform, medals gleaming. Inside the Hideout tent where the barbecue was served and entertainment was on stage among the veterans were WWII vet Roy Hughes and wounded warriors Frank Ellis and Dave Bradshaw.

Among committee members working on this day were Carrie Carr, Tod Fitzgerald, Renee Brown, Carol and Dr. Tom Sawyer, Lee Smith, Todd McCorquodale and Robby Clarkson as well as BHP Billiton volunteers including Arneta Sampson and Cristen Steele.

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