BAREBACK RIDING, BULL RIDING TO BE PART OF DANNY DIETZ MEMORIAL CLASSIC
ROSENBERG, Texas – The movie “Lone Survivor” shined a bright and graphic light on Operation RedWings, a battle in the Afghanistan mountains that left 19 U.S. warriors dead in June 2005.
Their sacrifice – as well as the sacrifices of countless other servicemen, servicewomen and their families – should never be forgotten. Danny Quinlan has made it his mission to honor these heroes for all they have done.
That’s why he organizes the annual U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial Classic, a multi-event celebration that takes place every Memorial Day weekend at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds in Rosenburg.
“This whole event started out as trying to keep Danny’s name alive and where we thought Danny would want the money to go,” said Quinlan, who works closely with Dietz’s surviving wife, co-founder Patsy Dietz. “He was always seen as the ultimate team guy, so it was only fitting that the money would go to the Navy SEAL Foundation.”
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz was part of four-man Navy SEAL team sent into the area on a surveillance and reconnaissance mission. He and two of his teammates – Lt. Michael Murphy and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Axelson – were killed during a firefight; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell was the only survivor of the four SEALs on the mission.
The event that honors Dietz is now in its seventh year, and organizers are adding to the flavor of the celebration by including a bull riding and bareback riding showcase that will be sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. It will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28.
“We’re going to have 24 bareback riders and 24 bull riders competing that day,” said Kirby Cannon, who is helping organize that aspect of the memorial celebration with his brother, Clint, a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in bareback riding. “It’s exciting for us to be involved because 100 percent of many money raised will go to the Navy SEAL Foundation, to the surviving families and to other surviving SEALs.”
The combined bareback riding-bull riding will be the first event of its kind sanctioned by the PRCA.
“As bareback riders, Kirby and I are excited to be part of it,” Clint Cannon said. “The Danny Dietz Memorial Classic will have numerous surviving wives, their families and veterans all there. It’s a big deal, and the bareback riding and bull riding is just a small part of it.
“This wouldn’t happen without the help of (PRCA Commissioner) Karl Stressman and Heath Ford, who is our bareback riding representative. They’ve been great helping us get this sanctioned.”
Both disciplines will feature a $10,000 committee stake, and that added money will be mixed with the contestants’ entry fees to come up with the overall purse. That prize money, combined with top stock from contractor Pickett Pro Rodeo, will increase incentive for the best bull riders and bareback riders in the PRCA to be part of the action.
“Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, who is the chairman of the Navy SEAL Foundation, is ecstatic about how the PRCA is involved and wanting to help take care of our families,” Quinlan said. “So many people want to take care of those families. Our event has that outreach. We’ll have kids that are 12 years old out here picking up trash because they want to help.
“It’s something special.”
The Classic will feature a team roping, a barbecue cookoff and a car show, and it takes place from Friday-Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. It’s the perfect time of year to honor servicemen and servicewomen.
“For me, I think it’s a time for us to spend a weekend to say ‘thank you,’ ” Quinlan said. “That’s what I want to teach my kids. I know I have used the freedom these people have given me with their sacrifices; I just want to give back now.”
He’s not alone. Team roper Tyler Magnus – a nine-time NFR qualifier who also produces “Riding and Roping with Tyler Magnus” on RFD-TV – has recorded the event as a donation.
“There are so many people who make this thing happen, including a great group of volunteers,” Quinlan said. “It’s all for these surviving spouses, their families, surviving SEALS and other veterans who have helped make our country free.”