Military Appreciation Night at the Ogden Pioneer Rodeo gave attendees a chance to see the winner of the bronc riding take first place with an unofficial 88 points, later adjusted to 90 points in the official standings. His ride ended up being good enough to take the bronc riding check atop the leaderboard for the whole rodeo.
Wade Sundell, of Boxholm, Iowa, rode Ned Pepper provided by Three Hills Rodeo Inc. Sundell, a three time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo finalist, currently holds the lead in the world saddle bronc riding standings with $72,958 according to the WNFR website.
Events for the appreciation night included a skydiver with a display of Old Glory as he entered the arena by parachute, a tribute to five military veterans, and 2nd Lt. Stacy Glaus, of 2nd Combat Camera, singing the national anthem. Brig. Gen. H. Brent Baker Sr., Ogden Air Logistics Complex commander, Col. Tom Miller, Deputy Director of Maintenance, with the OO-ALC, Col Sarah Zabel, 75th Air Base Wing commander, and Col. Kathryn Kolbe, vice commander of the 75th ABW, Col. Richard LeBlanc, commander of the 388th Range Squadron, Col.Patrick Wade, vice commander of the 419th Fighter Wing and Col. Dane West, commander of the 388th Maintenance Group were in attendance.
Hill Air Force Base plays a prominent role in providing volunteers at the rodeo. One in particular, Tonie Eaton, 573rd AMXS/MXAD, has worked the rough stock gate for a number of years.
"The first night I ever worked, I worked at the bridge gate," Eaton said. "That's the only place that has shade the entire time. So I volunteered (for that spot), besides I have horses, and I wasn't afraid of the parade of horses coming across."
The very next night they asked her to man the contestants entrance to the chutes, so she must have done a good job.
Eaton, who comes from a long military background, says her ancestors must be "spinning." They were in the Navy dating back to 1775, she reports. So, her 6 years in the Army Corps of Engineers, and 22 years in the Air Force, are a real departure from the family tree.
"Being that long in this country and going back that far, we were raised to be excruciatingly patriotic," she said.
"When people forget to take their hats off when the flag comes by, including women, that offends me," Eaton said. "That's the one time a woman should remove her hat, particularly at the rodeo."
Eaton's volunteer T-shirt has signatures scrawled across the back of it -- all the cowboys she lets in the gate, who are willing to take a marker and scratch their name on it. "We get some of the best cowboys here," she said.
The cowboys remember her from year to year, because she has been a regular. While talking she admits various cowboys through the gate, and one of them gives her a jibe about being on the other side of the gate, contrary to the night before. "They must have fixed your gate," he says.
Eaton has a reputation with the cowboys for being courteous and fair, and takes satisfaction in making sure they have a good experience at the Ogden rodeo. Last year she started asking the bronc riders and bull riders to sign her shirt. She was told she could put that shirt in eBay for some good money, but Eaton said that's not her goal.
What she would really like to do is attend the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and wear her shirts there. "Maybe someday," she said.
Eaton adds that any volunteer who works one night earns two tickets to another night of the rodeo.