FORT HOOD, Texas - Thousands of free barbecue plates were served from chuck wagons to Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and family members as they viewed modern and classic cars at the Cowboys 4 Heroes Bumpers and BBQ event in front of the Phantom Warrior Center here, Oct. 22.
“It’s just so fun to be on base,” Greg Liles, co-founder of Cowboys 4 Heroes said about being at Fort Hood.
The Houston-based organization was founded in 2009 to assist physically and/or mentally wounded military and their families during their transition from active duty to civilian life. Today, the organization serves active duty and retired military as well as first responders. They also have helped some organizations in Houston fundraise for their efforts in helping military needs in their counties by providing them meat.
Cowboys 4 Heroes first visited Fort Hood in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and they served visitors in a drive-thru style. In 2021 and at this year’s event, visitors could walk between the different chuck wagons and watch as the food was prepared.
“Last year, we did the same style event as this with chuck wagons and cook teams. We’ll probably serve 15,000 meals today and we’re excited to be here,” Liles said.
Liles said he along with Cowboys 4 Heroes co-founder Charles Norris were the first in their families to not serve in the military, but it was their passion to give back and serve the military community. They began by taking transitioning military members on hunting trips, but realized they could better serve the community by feeding them.
“We have the resources to go get meat, have it processed and custom feed Soldiers, military and first responders,” Liles said.
Since their founding, the volunteers at Cowboys 4 Heroes have served close to two million meals and John Karnes with the 1298 Cowboys and Cuisine chuck wagon was happy to add to that number by giving back to Fort Hood.
“I come from a law enforcement background myself so I appreciate what (Soldiers) do on a national and international basis,” Karnes said. “We like the fact that we’re the ones that take care of you guys at home, and you’re the ones protecting our freedoms abroad.”
Col. Chad R. Foster, commander, U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood, was excited to try some great food and have the support from the Cowboy 4 Heroes organization and its volunteers.
“It’s really an atmosphere that these great individuals that come here … 200 volunteers from the Cowboys 4 Heroes foundation, people from all over the states of Texas and Oklahoma, who come here to show their appreciation and their support for our Soldiers, military families and veterans,” Foster said. “They bring with them this spirit of friendship, the spirit of cooperation and support that you don’t find everywhere you go as a uniformed service member. We’ve got it in abundance here and that’s something that we’re all very grateful for.”
Liles is already looking to the future and when Cowboys 4 Heroes can return to the Great Place.
“We’re looking forward to next year,” Liles said, “and the planning process will start tomorrow.”