The cattle business is blessed with good people,” says Ashland, KS, cattleman Bill Broadie. Without a doubt, Broadie is among them.

As a U.S. Marine, Broadie served in Vietnam where he was wounded twice. The second wound was disabling.

“I will never forget the plane ride home,” Broadie says. “I came home to a country violently opposed to the war effort and the troops who had risked their lives.”

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the inception of the war in Iraq, Broadie was determined that his experience wouldn’t be replayed for these new warriors. So the field representative for Superior Livestock rounded up his fellow cattlemen and started the All-American Beef Battalion (AABB) in August 2007. AABB is a non-profit organization dedicated to expressing its gratitude by providing a steak dinner to every U.S. soldier.

“This is our way of saying thanks and letting them know their sacrifice and service is appreciated,” Broadie says.

The first AABB steak feed was in Olathe, KS, on April 26, 2008. It was served to members of the 731st Transportation Co., a National Guard unit just returning from duty in Iraq.

Since then, the AABB effort has only gained momentum. In just four years, the organization has grilled up and served more than 130,000 steaks to deploying and returning U.S. troops and their families in events across the country.

Why steak? Because Broadie says  there’s no better way to say “thank you.” It’s also his way of promoting the beef industry.

“AABB is great for our industry; every time we host a steak feed, there is a good chance we are sending a positive message about beef to all 50 states,” he says. “The troops share our story with their friends and families. They gush about the gesture and great-tasting steaks we serve. Every steak we serve at our feeds is USDA Choice and dry-aged for 30-40 days. You can cut them with a plastic fork and knife.”

Troops feel the love

Lori Huber, whose son Lance is stationed in Afghanistan withthe South Dakota Army National Guard’s 842nd Engineering Co., can attest to the meaning of the gesture.

“I thank Bill for the generosity and foresight that he has for our troops. Sometimes, I think our politicians have forgotten the core of our nation – our American soldiers, who sacrifice so much for our country,” she says. “As a mom, I’m counting down the days until my son is home, and Lance tells me they’re very excited about coming home to the AABB steak feed and eating all-American beef!”

Huber and her husband Kevin donated a Simmental heifer that was auctioned off in their hometown of Yankton, SD. The roll-over auction raised almost $50,000, which was donated to AABB to support the troops and promote beef.

Broadie was among those touched by the auction. “South Dakota has been a big supporter of AABB,” he says, “and I challenge other states to follow its lead.”

Although it was midnight in Afghanistan at the time of the auction, Lance joined in on the action through Skype; his wife Debra made the connection with her phone. Broadie says it’s individual stories like the Hubers’ that drive the AABB crew to continue the mission to thank a soldier, one steak at a time.