Riding High

  • Published
  • By SrA Melissa Harvey
  • 301st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
    
Thirty-five years ago in Layton, Utah, a ten-year-old boy named Kurt convinced his dad to let him participate in a "Little Buckaroo's" rodeo. He won first place in the bare-back riding event and also beat out 50 other kids to catch the pig in the "pig chase". For his accomplishments, he received a big trophy. He also rode away with $25 dollars from a guy who bought the pig from him. 
    
He was hooked.
    
Colonel Kurt Gallegos, 301st Operations Group commander, went on to win rodeos during high school and college. He took a break when he joined the military, but eventually found his way back while stationed overseas.
    
He has since won more awards, with his best event being bull riding.
   
"In 1997, I was the Korean-American Cowboy Association Bull Riding Champion and the 2000 European Rodeo Cowboy Association All-Around Champion," Gallegos said

His interest in horses began as a little boy because his dad rode them for hunting and recreation, he said. He was the only child out of five to take an interest in the rodeo, but had his family's support. 
    
"My Mother and Father went to almost every rodeo I competed in through high school and college," he said. "I had a lot of support from my brothers and sister as well."
Gallegos' passion for the extreme began with rodeos but eventually he was drawn to the ultimate extreme, supersonic fighters. He now flies F-16 Fighting Falcons.
    
They are both "Extreme activities, he said. It's a thrill of a lifetime to do them."
    
He says his interest for the extreme came from competing with his brothers and participating in sports during school.
    
Camaraderie between his team mates, competitors and wingmen is also an attraction for him, he said.
    
Although Gallegos no longer actively participates in rodeos, he recently made a special appearance. He volunteered for and was chosen to represent the Air Force at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo's Military Appreciation Day, along with two other members from the wing.

His most memorable moment came when he rode in the grand entry as, "kids were giving us high-fives," he said.

For more than two decades Gallegos has participated in rodeos and flown F-16s, he said. 

"Whether you go to after-burner in an F-16 or ride eight seconds on a bull, you feel like you accomplished something," he said. "It's exhilarating. An adrenaline rush."

After realizing the dream of flying the F-16 and competing successfully at the semi-professional rodeo level, Gallegos learned that, "With hard work and determination you can accomplish anything you set your sights and goals on," he said.
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