Altus AFB hosts annual cattle drive

Altus AFB hosts annual cattle drive

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla._Service members at Altus Air Force Base were given a glimpse of the Old West through a longhorn cattle drive.

Thirty head of longhorn cattle were driven three miles across the base. The event kicks off the 38th annual Great Plains Stampede Rodeo. The annual cattle drive started August 26, 1999. Rodeo organizers say they see it as an opportunity to get military personnel familiar with Oklahoma's western heritage.

Altus Air Force Base Commander Colonel Todd Hohn says this is a phenomenal tradition to be a part of; opening the gates of the base to cowboys and cowgirls alike.

"This is one of the most amazing places in the country. The local community completely embraces us and this is just another example of them opening up their arms and their hospitality and generosity and a way for us to give back a little bit as they give us so much," Col. Hohn said.

Members of the rodeo association let airmen and women borrow their horses to participate in the cattle drive.

Rodeo vice president Shawn Parker says the cattle drive dates back to the Civil War and it is a piece of history he wants to preserve.

"When the economy was terrible and the people up in the north and the east needed beef, a group of Texas cowboys decided to make them some money," Parker said.

Colonel Hohn says it had been almost 20 years since he rode a horse, but his favorite part of the day has been the looks on people's faces.

"As we have been going around the base, you see the kids and their faces just light up. Some of the adults out here, some of the spouses and some of the active military folks that are getting to ride, when most of them don't ride all that often and they are just having a ball," Col. Hohn said.

The 30 head of longhorn cattle were brought to Altus Wednesday night from Woodward for the cattle drive.

The three day rodeo starts each night at 8:00 p.m., including Thursday night. It's happening at the Great Plains Stampede Arena, just south of Highway 62 on Veterans Drive.