American300 Tour aims to inspire Malmstrom AFB Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Two visitors came to inspire change through determination to Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen stationed here March 21 and 22 .

Robi Powers, the founder of the American300 Warrior Tours, was accompanied by Tom Whittaker, who shared his journey in becoming the first disabled person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. Whittaker's story is part of "The Promise Tour," being delivered by the American300 Warrior Tours' Never Quit series to all AFGSC bases throughout the coming months.

"The goal of the tours we have at each base is to promote that 'never quit' attitude," Powers said. "By having people like Tom Whittaker share their stories, we can give Airmen hope and maybe something to relate to when they, too, face adversity."

The Airmen here had two chances to attend the presentation put on by Powers and Whittaker - one given each day. During the presentations, Whittaker shared the struggles he faced and overcame in climbing, literally, to the top of his goals.

At 31, Whittaker, who was vastly making his way up in the mountain climbing world, was hit head-on by a drunk driver on a remote Idaho road. Upon gaining consciousness after an emergency surgery, he awoke to find his right foot was amputated and his kneecap was also removed.

Whittaker was devastated by this loss and soon turned to his friends and family -- his wingmen -- to help rediscover himself and continue his dreams of mountain climbing. One of his friends heard the news and hitchhiked from Maine to Idaho in the heart of winter to help nurse him back to health.

"When something happens to us, it opens our humility and our humanity," he said. "If anyone sees a glimmer of hope in you, they'll help. I believe it was Yogi Berra who said, 'if you see a tortoise on a fence post, you can assume it had some help getting there.'"

Even though he lost his right foot, he didn't lose his "dream big" and imperishable positive attitude. One of Whittaker's biggest dreams, even before his accident, was to reach the top of the world's tallest mountain.

But his attempts at climbing Mount Everest didn't come without adversity as it was on his third climb that he finally reached the top of the mountain. The presentation showed Airmen just how far a positive attitude and a little help from wingmen can get them on the journey to accomplishing their goals.

"At some stage of your life, something is going to hit - something is going to roll over you like a tank." Whittaker said. "The bad news is you can't overcome it by yourself, but the result is you will come out a better person because an outer journey leads to an inner journey."

Powers also mentioned plans for the American300 Tour's next stop here - a kick off for a month-long, command-wide rowing competition. Accompanying him on that stop April 3 to 4 will be Dan Beery, an Olympic gold medalist and rowing hall of fame member, and Sean Colgan, a 1980 Olympic Team World Champion and rowing hall of fame member.

To learn more about the American300 Foundation, visit