Winners of the 2020 Bucks for the Brave Heroes Hunt
In honor of upcoming Veteran’s Day, Cowboy Lifestyle Network, partnered with Record Rack Feed (a brand of Cargill) wants to take some time to recognize the winners of the 2020 Bucks for the Brave Heroes Hunt. For those of you who are just hearing about the Bucks for the Brave program, here’s a little backstory. Four years ago, Record Rack recognized the need to give back to those who have put their lives on the line for their community and their country. They wanted to be able to provide these heroes with a once and a lifetime opportunity that they may not have received otherwise. So, the Bucks for the Brave Program was born. You can check out highlights from last year below.
Earlier this year, families had the opportunity to nominate their own heroes to win this all-inclusive, weekend hunting trip at the Thumbtack Ranch in Batesville, Texas. Each year, eight winners from each branch of the military as well as one retired Firefighter, one retired Law Enforcement Officer and one retired EMT have the chance to win. This year is no different, we are excited to introduce to you the eight winners of this year’s Bucks for the Brave Heroes Hunt.
Ricardo Soto – Air Force Veteran & Current LEO
Nominated by his wife
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8
This is what my husband heard when he decided to enlist in the United States Air Force. Since September 11, 2001, he knew that he had to do something to make this world a better and safer place. He knew he was called to serve our nation. At just 17 years of age, he enlisted in the Air Force and waited patiently to begin his training. He completed his training in 2006 and headed to serve overseas in his new position in Security Forces. He was deployed twice and did all he could to serve our nation well. He separated from the military in 2009 and began working on life after the military. It was a bit of an adjustment, to say the least but he still felt called to serve. He remained in the USAF Reserve and pursued a career in Law Enforcement. Though he no longer serves our nation through the military, his calling is still the same. He knew something needed to be done to make this world a better place and safer for our generations to come. I believe he is deserving of this hunt because he continuously puts others before himself whether he is wearing a uniform or not. This hunt would be a dream hunt because not only would he get to live out his dream to get an amazing buck but most importantly he would get the comradery that only happens with other members of the military. My hopes are that you select my husband because of selfless, sacrificial service in the United States Air Force.
Thomas Stone – Army Veteran & Current LEO
Nominated by a friend: Tom served in the Army for 25 years retiring as a Sergeant Major. He was on active duty, National Guard and Reserves. He was deployed to combat 3 times in his 25 years, and during his service received a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart. Tom served in Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. After active duty became a police officer and has been with the LAPD for 22 years. He has worked several assignments and is now a sergeant in Metropolitan Division. In 2017 Tom joined the board of directors of Dark Horse Project. It is a 501C3 veteran and first responder charity organization. Tom has done so much for others and given his life to service and helping others.
Jeff Mallory – Coast Guard Veteran
Nominated by a friend: Jeff is a retired Senior Chief Boatswains Mate with the US Coast Guard from 1980-2008 (28 years). Jeff currently resides in Northern Michigan with his wife of 38 years. Jeff has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. During Jeff’s 28 years in the Coast Guard, there more lives than we can count that he saved or touched. Being a Chief at the Stations, Jeff shaped the lives of many young people into high-quality productive adults for this great nation. Jeff is a certified boat operator on vessels ranging from 14 ft ice skiffs to 140 ft ice breakers. Jeff has operated boats and cutters on the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence Seaway, and Alaskan waters.
Jeff is a certified Surfman – this is the highest level of Coast Guard boat operations. 2 Coast Guard Commendation Awards 4 Coast Guard Achievement Awards 9 Coast Guard Good Conduct Awards After retiring from the Coast Guard Jeff has continued to honor his country and the local community. Jeff now serves as the Harbormaster for the city of Frankfort, MI. He has been a high school softball coach in Frankfort for 21 years. He gives back his time to the community on the Frankfort board of the athletic association. Jeff has always been an outdoorsman with a passion for fishing, and fly fishing in particular. Jeff is a member of Sport Fish Michigan where he passes his love and knowledge for fly fishing to others.
Joe Pizzini – Marine Corps & Air Force Veteran
Nominated by a family member: My Grandfather is my hero and I am proud of him. He served in Korea with the Marines that got surrounded by the Chinese at the Chosen Reservoir and he loves to tell me the stories of how he survived it. Especially how cold it was and how they all froze during the fighting. He also served in the Airforce during Vietnam and he tells me stories about his time there and other countries that he was stationed at. He also took part in the nuclear bomb testing that was done in the ocean. He was on one of the ships when they exploded nuclear bombs to see what the effects if any would be on him and the others. He ended doing over 20 years in between the Marines and the Air Force and retired.
James Walker – Navy & Army Veteran
James joined the Navy on his 18 birthday and turned 19 in boot camp. He served on 5 different submarines in his first 14 years. He survived the fire and loss of the USS Bonefish where he lost three shipmates. Even after that, James didn’t hesitate to take orders to 4 more submarines. He received his officer’s commission as a nurse and served 10 more years. James then deployed to Kuwait and served with the Army Coordinating medivacs out of southern Iraq and Kuwait. He retired and was hired by The Army as a nurse and continues to serve our active duty service members and their families. On 25 August James completed 35 years of continuous service between the Navy and Army. He currently works in the mental health field working with families struggling with mental health issues and coordinating care to make sure our servicemen and servicewomen can focus on the mission.
Patrick Burns – Retired Law Enforcement & Marine Corp Veteran
Nominated by a friend: Where do I begin? To say that Patrick Burns is a role model does not do it justice. The oldest of seven, Patrick and his younger siblings grew up in a very abusive household. At a young age, he was forced to leave his home and in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, Patrick chose to drop out of high school and enlist with the U.S. Marine Corp. At the age of seventeen, Patrick deployed to Vietnam where he proudly served his country. During this time, Patrick was infected with malaria and was severely wounded while in battle requiring several operations and being hospitalized for one year. His heroic efforts as a Marine in Vietnam lead to him being awarded a Purple Heart. While recovering in the hospital, he managed to obtain a GED. Once he returned home, Patrick decided he was not done serving yet. In 1972, he joined the City of Miami Police Department where he served for twenty-five years, eventually retiring in 1995 as a Major.
During his service with the police department, Patrick virtually worked in every capacity of law enforcement including training field officers and commanding tactical units. Prior to retiring, Patrick received the very prestigious Medal of Honor from the City of Miami for his work in the 1980 Miami Riots (a very violent time in Miami’s history). Believe it or not, the story does not stop there. Due to growing up in such an abusive household, Patrick wanted to do his part to make sure kids in a similar situation had a chance to make something out of themselves. As a police officer, he introduced an inner-city boxing program aimed at keeping young boys off the streets and out of trouble. What started as his own project, soon became a City of Miami Police Department Community Relations program with five boxing gyms located in the most trouble-stricken neighborhoods of Miami. Patrick is responsible for keeping a number of kids out of the gang life and for giving them something to fight for. He eventually went on to coach six world champions in the sport of boxing, including some popular names you may know today. In 1988, Patrick would go on to marry the woman of his dreams and now has two wonderful children that are also doing their part to make an impact in this world. Although he is on 100% disability from his injuries sustained fighting the Vietnam War, there is nothing that Patrick loves more than hunting. Patrick is someone that so many people can say had such an amazing impact on them and to this day, he would still give you the shirt off of his back. Speaking from my heart, Patrick is someone that deserves nothing but the best. For the work he and the others in this contest have done, I will forever be grateful.
Bingham Hefner – Retired Firefighter
Nominated by a friend: Bingham is a retired Charlotte, NC firefighter. He served for 27 years and during his service, he received several medals of honor for his rescue and bravery. He has a humble side and never boast or brag about the rescues he made during his time of service. Just another day in the life of a firefighter was the motto he lived by. After retiring he continues his work for the line of duty. He rides bicycles 500-600 miles in a week with the Brotherhood organizations around the country raising money for the families of the line of duty deaths (Police, Firefighters, EMTs, and service animals killed in the line of duty). He has traveled from NC, SC, LA, KY, and Texas to honor these families.
Last year he nominated Danny Foley, Bucks for the Brave 2019 Winner. Danny was an FDNY firefighter that lost his brother FDNY Tommy Foley when the South Tower collapsed on 9/11. Danny spent 11 days at Ground Zero and found Tommy. Sadly, Danny developed pancreatic cancer from all the toxic exposures at Ground Zero. He got to enjoy this hunt while battling cancer. We lost Danny in February 2020. I am grateful that Bingham knew what another brother in the fire service who loved to hunt would benefit from this experience of a lifetime. That is the kind of man he is. He sees the need in others. He has a servant’s heart. Bingham is an avid hunter and fisherman. He also competed on the rodeo circuit as a bareback rider and steer wrestler for many years. But more importantly, he loves the Lord, his wife of 34 years, three sons, and two beautiful Daughters-in-Law. He is a family man. He has passed on his love of the sport of hunting, fishing, and rodeo onto his sons. Thank you to this organization for hosting the hunt and honoring those who risk their lives for others.
Steven Oswald – Retired EMT & Vietnam Veteran
Nominated by a family member: Steven is a Vietnam Veteran, 1st Army Cav, 82nd Airborne, Retired Firefighter after 30 years of firefighting, and Paramedic!! He has been spending part of his retirement teaching our Son-in-Law, and now Granddaughter, how to hunt. We would love for it to be his turn to be taken care of and be the primary hunter!
CLN on Scene
Wow! What an amazing group of heroes. I speak for the whole team when I say that we are truly honored to be in the presence of this many American heroes in one place. I can’t wait to join these men on a trip of a lifetime, hear their personal stories, and watch this amazing group of people come together to celebrate them. a special thanks to the partners below that make this Heroes Hunt possible each year.