From Humvees to Horses: the LRS Airman Behind the Cattle Drive

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm
  • 97 AMW Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Black, the Vehicle Maintenance NCO in charge assigned to the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron, has experienced country living his entire life. For the past 15 years, TSgt Black has committed himself to this lifestyle by helping kick-off one of Altus AFB’s most distinctive events, the Cattle Drive.

Every year, Mobility’s Hometown hosts the Cattle Drive, a unique opportunity allowing local and foreign ranchers to herd their longhorn steers around base before kicking off rodeo week. This is an event that is special to Altus AFB and garners interest from many people. For those who admire the country life, the Rodeo Committee offers an opportunity for Airmen to become involved in events like the Cattle Drive, which has become an iconic event reflecting the strong partnership between the Altus and base communities.

“This is really something unique,” said Black. “Being able to keep the ‘hometown’ atmosphere and the strong connection we have with the community through the rodeo committee is something truly great.”

Black grew up on a farm in Waco, Texas, where he established his love for the country and the rodeo. For a period of time while growing up, Black picked up bull riding but shortly realized it was not what he wanted as a career. After considering his options, Black decided to join the Air Force, where he began his career in Vehicle Maintenance.

In August of 2004, Black was assigned to his first duty station right here at Altus AFB. Being so close to home, Black appreciated the southwestern atmosphere and after a few short years, Black realized Altus AFB had something that made him feel more at home every day. Black has spent his entire career at Altus AFB, making this his 15th year stationed here. In 2006, Black decided to join the Rodeo Committee, where he would be involved in making the Cattle Drive and rodeo happen.

“The cattle drive is a great way to help build strong relationships with the community,” said Black. “The base supports the town in many ways, and creating something exciting like the cattle drive is something I think really brings us closer to the community.”

Black originally joined the rodeo committee just to see what it was about and to get the opportunity to work with country animals he enjoys such as horses and cattle. He began his journey as the “little guy on the totem pole,” said Black, but he slowly began to gain more interest. After a few years, he became the special event and parade coordinator responsible for setting up events on and off base. After three years, Black was nominated into the Military Affairs position, placing him in charge of the annual Cattle Drive.

“In all honesty, the rodeo committee itself has made a big impact on my life and helped my decision in staying here,” said Black. “What I hear from other Airmen, Commanders and Chiefs, out of all the bases they have been to, they have never seen anything like this; it makes us one of a kind.”

The annual Cattle Drive is a distinct event special to Altus AFB and its Warrior Airmen. The long standing relationship the 97 AMW has had with its community is because of these events that continue every year. As community members from around Altus continue to welcome Airmen and their families to local events, Mobility’s Hometown gladly returns the favor. All of these things help build trust, strength and unique opportunities for the men and women of the Mighty 97th and the local community to experience together.