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Sturgis Buffalo Chip to honor veterans

An announcement from the Buffalo Chip states that Thursday, August 8 has been designated as a day to honor all who have served our country and to celebrate American freedom through main stage awards, special presentations and ceremonies. The Buffalo Chip will honor several courageous veterans with the Bob Hanson Distinguished Service Award. The Bob Hanson Distinguished Patriot Award will also be presented and a combat amputee will be honored with a specially built trike.

A special Veterans’ Charity Auction will be held at the Buffalo Chip’s Event Center near the East Gate on Thursday, Aug. 8 at 4 p.m. Auction items up for grabs include a brand-new firearm, a one-of-a-kind piece of memorabilia, and a 1990 HD FXLR Custom, completely redone with military-themed graphics from one of the top airbrush artists in the world. The live and silent auction will benefit two charities, America’s Mighty Warriors and The Warrior Dog Foundation.

2019 Bob Hanson Distinguished Service Honorees

8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8 Wolfman Jack Stage

Each year the Buffalo Chip honors members of the military for their courage, sacrifice and heroic patriotism by presenting them with the Bob Hanson Distinguished Service Award. Past recipients of this award include Retired Navy SEAL Richard “Skipper” Marcinko, “Senator John McCain, Colonel Steve Ritchie, Bob Woodruff, Retired Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods and Former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty. Buffalo Chip President Rod Woodruff will present awards to this year’s honorees on the main stage before a performance from Toby Keith.

Sonar Technician (STG2) Rick Benjamin, U.S. Navy SEAL, graduated BUD/S class 109 in 1980 and reported to SEAL Team 1. While at SEAL Team 1, he participated in the inaugural Operation Bright Star. Rick was instrumental in implementing Naval Special Warfares current Desert Warfare program. Rick transitioned into the reserves serving with SEAL Team 19 in support of SEAL Team 1, SEAL Team 3, and SEAL Team 5. Rick continued to serve our country with various government agencies until his retirement in 2010, and to this day proudly serves the SEAL community annually at the UDT/SEAL Museum by swimming out the ashes of his fallen Team mates during Muster.

William T Skavdahl, Chief Warrant Officer 2, 175th Aviation Company, US Army. CW2 Skavdahl received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and an Air Metal with Oak Leaf Cluster and V for valor for actions in Vietnam and during the Tet Offensive.

Eugene “Gene” Murphy, Sgt, Co C, 1st Bn, 12th Inf Div while serving in Vietnam Specialist Four Murphy was awarded the Bronze Star Metal with V for Valor for heroism in connection with military operations against an armed hostile force. At a later time, the now Sgt Murphy, just 30-days before he was scheduled to return to the United States was on patrol when his unit came under fire. Sgt Murphy sustained wounds that left his legs paralyzed, for which he received the Purple Heart. 

Brooks T Schild, SSG, Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery, US Army was awarded the Bronze Star with the V for Valor for “Exceptionally Meritorious Heroism in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His brother Richard L Schild, SFC, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery Brigade was Killed in Combat on 4 December 2005. Richard was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. 

2019 Bob Hanson Distinguished Patriot Award

8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8 Wolfman Jack Stage

Scott and Deb Whitman


Scott and Deb Whitman have been the quiet strength behind many of the annual Freedom Celebration events and activities for over 5 years. The Buffalo Chip Freedom Field is due in large part to their hard work and dedication in honoring all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. They will receive the 2019 Bob Hanson Distinguished Patriot Award.   

Special Freedom Celebration Presentations

8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8 Wolfman Jack Stag

2019 Trike Recipient

This trike build is part of an annual effort on behalf of Norm Lovelace, Greg Smith and donors to present a combat injured soldier or veteran with a motorcycle designed to accommodate their specific needs. The 2019 recipient is Justin Day, Senior Airman, United States Air Force who was deployed to Afghanistan and was attached to a Green Beret Special Forces team. After conducting a tactical clearance of a compound Justin stepped on an IED that resulted in the amputation of his right leg above the knee, as well as full and partial amputations of fingers on both hands.

2019 Special Operations Wounded Warrior Service Dog Presentation 

Special Operations Wounded Warriors and Baden K9 have teamed up to present Retired Chief Special Warfare Operate Oscar Sosa Jr., a Belgian Malinois named “Reaper One”. Master Chief Bellan served as a Navy Seal for over 23 years and on the SOWW board over seven where he continued to support his Special Forces brothers.

In addition to the these activities, Buffalo Chip visitors are welcome to pay tribute to those who have served and, in some cases, paid the ultimate sacrifice throughout the Sturgis Rally by visiting Freedom Field, 800 American Flags which honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, bronzed Battlefield Cross Memorial and an 80% replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall all located at the free-access Buffalo Chip CrossRoads. 

More information and campground admission passes allowing access to Freedom Celebration activities within the Buffalo Chip amphitheater are available at

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