Broadie’s passion for the beef industry goes back to his childhood. His dad Raymond owned and operated the Ashland Sales Co. sales barn, and ran stocker cattle across the country. Broadie spent his after-school hours and summers with his dad at the auctions and in the pickup truck traveling to cattle sales ever since he was 13 years old.

Upon graduating from high school, Broadie enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Within six months, he was in Vietnam; just five months later, he was convalescing in the hospital.

“After coming home from Vietnam, I spent a lot of time in the hospital healing. I was released in March 1968, and on July 27, I married my sweetheart, Linda (Clark),” he says.

Broadie studied business administration at Fort Hayes State and graduated in 1971. He then moved back to Ashland and started farming in a partnership with a neighbor.

“We farmed 1,000 acres of crops and ran stocker cattle on 1,000 acres of grass. My grandpa gave me $25,000 to buy a tractor and some equipment. My dad set me up with the money for the cattle, and I went on shares with him. I got two-thirds of the profit, and Dad took the rest. Two years later, we went into a full partnership together and ran stockers all across the country.”

His dad’s sale barn closed in 1972, but Broadie kept running cattle. In 1989, Broadie began working for Superior Livestock.

“The first cattle I sold with Superior were my own,” he says.

Although he’s since left the stocker business, working for Superior Livestock keeps Broadie busy at cattle sales – logging thousands of miles in his pickup truck each week – a “road warrior,” as he calls himself. His busy travel schedule makes it tough to stay home and feed cows, although he fondly recalls his days in the business.

Broadie and his late wife Linda raised two children, Barrett and Amy. Barrett and his wife Lori live in Burns, KS; they have three children – Reagan, Colt and Austin. Barrett is also a field representative for Superior Livestock. Daughter Amy (Broadie) Deudig lives in Milwaukee, WI, with her husband Jeff and two children, Luke and Grace.

Broadie’s focus on cattle sales and AABB events went on the backburner when Linda was diagnosed with cancer in June 2011; she passed away in early 2012. To honor her life, more than $30,000 was donated on her behalf by various beef industry organizations and individuals to support AABB.

“When Linda got sick, I really focused on her. She was the most important thing in my life. Now, I’m trying to get more active and involved with AABB again. If it hadn’t been for the board of directors, especially Jon Fort, AABB would have folded. He kept the ball rolling. We use all of his equipment for the feeds. We can cook for 5,000 now without any outside support because of his grill and trailer,” Broadie says.

Volunteers keep AABB thriving

The AABB board includes Broadie, Fort, Larry Bilberry, Jim Odle, Kendal Kay, Kevin Hathaway, Craig Mock, Mike Arnold and General Richardson.

“I knew AABB could get big, but I didn’t know how big; our goal is to take this thing all the way to the troops in Afghanistan,” Broadie says. “When I saw how the mainstream media was trying to treat our troops – the same way they did us when we were in Vietnam, I knew I had to do something. I called Jim Odle (co-founder of Superior Livestock) and told him I had a crazy idea. The rest is history.”

AABB is entirely volunteer; directors foot the bill for their own travel. They give their time, talent and treasure to support the troops and promote the beef industry, but the reward comes from seeing the appreciation on the troops’ faces.

Although the organization has been quietly operating without a lot of outside support, folks are starting to pay attention. AABB was recognized as the 2012 Prime Promoter by the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.

“How do you put it in words? It’s so humbling to be around these kids. Ever since 9/11, these soldiers know where they are going. You’re trying to tell them thank you, but they are thanking us right back. It’s such an honor to be around them,” Broadie says. "Would you buy a soldier a steak?" 

The long-haul effort

The favorite steak feeds of Bill Broadie, 2012 Trailblazer Award winner and founder of the All-American Beef Battalion (AABB), are those dedicated to the Wounded Warriors Project. “Because I’ve been through it, they ask me how to deal with the pain after they come home – the survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress. One of my goals is to organize a group of wounded Vietnam veterans to show these kids there’s a lot of life yet to live.”

Support for AABB from the beef industry continues to grow. Creekstone Farms, Tyson and U.S. Premium Beef are major sponsors of AABB; and individual ranchers have auctioned their own stock, with all proceeds going to AABB. Meanwhile, commodity groups and cattlemen’s organizations have also stepped forward to gather funds to keep AABB on its feet. Broadie hopes even more people in the beef industry will get involved.

“I’m going to keep promoting beef and keep thanking the troops, no matter what. I’m in this thing for the long haul,” he says.

Amanda Radke is Editor of BEEF Daily.