Monday, March 30, 2015

U.S. Army decides Fort Hood victims will receive Purple Heart

I know this is a little late, but I honestly thought I posted this here as a follow-up to my post regarding the Army denying the troops who were wounded during the Fort Hood terrorist attack Purple Hearts.

For some of you who don't know, I also take care of the blog/website for our local American Legion Post up here. 

Yes, I mistakenly posted this report there instead of here first. I want to thank you for writing in and asking about this.

It was announced on February 6th, 2015, that the Fort Hood victims will indeed receive Purple Hearts for their combat action against a Muslim terrorist.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced that victims of the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attack will receive the Purple Heart.

This is an about-face for the military which initially went along with the Obama administration and described the attacks as "workplace violence."

The decision to award the Purple Heart was first reported by Fox News. 

The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed, while serving with the U.S. military. 

With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members.

The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington who was then the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

He authorized the Badge of Military Merit by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. 

Surpringly the Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three soldiers during the Revolutionary War. From then on, as its legend grew; so did its appearance. 

Although never abolished, also surprising is the fact that the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.

The most Purple Hearts awarded to a single individual is nine. Marine Sgt. Albert L. Ireland holds that distinction, being awarded five Purple Heart Medals in World War II and four more in the Korean War.

Seven soldiers, including two Medal of Honor recipients, were awarded eight Purple Hearts:
  • Robert T. Frederick: Eight awards, World War II
  • Richard J. Buck: Four awards, Korean War / Four awards, Vietnam War
  • David H. Hackworth: Three awards, Korean War / Five awards in the Vietnam War
  • Joe Hooper: Eight awards, Vietnam War
  • Robert L. Howard: Eight awards, Vietnam War
  • William Waugh: Eight awards, Vietnam War
While the award of the Purple Heart is considered automatic for all wounds received in combat, each award presentation must still be reviewed to ensure that the wounds received were as a result of enemy action. 

Modern day Purple Heart presentations are recorded in both hardcopy and electronic service records. The annotation of the Purple Heart is denoted both with the service member's parent command and at the headquarters of the military service department. 

An original citation and award certificate are presented to the service member and filed in their service record (personnel file).

During World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, the Purple Heart was often awarded on the spot, with occasional entries actually made into service records -- sometimes entries were never made at all. 

It is said that during periods of demobilization following each of America's major wars of the 20th century, it was a common occurrence for a unit's admin section to omit even a mention in a recipient's of a Purple Heart award from service records, personnel files. 

This occurred due to clerical errors, and became problematic once a service record was closed upon discharge. In terms of keeping accurate records, it was commonplace for some field commanders to engage in bedside presentations of the Purple Heart. 

This typically entailed one's Commanding Officer entering a hospital with a number of Purple Hearts and pinning them on the pillows of wounded service members, then departing with no official records kept of the visit, or the award of the Purple Heart given. 

Service members, themselves, complicated matters by unofficially leaving hospitals, hastily returning to their units to rejoin battle so as to not appear a malingerer. Yes, this happened more than most people realize.

In such cases, even if a service member had received actual wounds in combat, both the award of the Purple Heart and the Commanding Officer's visit to the hospital was unrecorded in their service record.

Yes, clerical errors are certainly not out of the ordinary as anyone in the military can swear to.

If a Purple Heart is denoted in military records but was simply omitted from a DD Form 214 (Report of Separation form), then a correction can be issued by way of a DD-215 document. These can be found on site at the National Personnel Records Center.

In a written statement, Army Secretary McHugh cited a recent change in the Purple Heart law that allowed the Army to proceed with the medals for those eligible as a result of the Fort Hood terrorist attack.

"The Purple Heart's strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood," McHugh said in a statement.

"Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized" with either the Purple Heart or, for civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal.

"It's an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice," McHugh said.

Victims of the 2009 shooting and their families had been pressing the military to award the Purple Heart, and the benefits that come with it, for years.

They got a boost when the Republican controlled Congress passed recent funding legislation requiring the Defense Department to reconsider whether the victims qualify for the honor. 

The Army statement on Friday said the legislation expanded the eligibility criteria by broadening what can be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization.

The Army determined the shooting could be considered an attack because the shooter "was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack."

Texas Republican Rep. John Carter, who had pushed for the honor, hailed the announcement.

"This has been a long, hard fight," he said in a statement. "The victims of this attack have struggled, suffered and been abandoned by this Administration. No more. Today is a day of victory and I am honored to have fought on their behalf."

Fox News was first to report that the Islamic terrorist attack which was really a massacre with 13 killed and more than 30 wounded. 

The Muslim responsible for the attact was Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan. He opened fire after shouting "Allahu Akbar," but the Obama administration decided give Hasan a pass and classified the attack as mere "workplace violence."

Further evidence has steadily emerged since the attack that Hasan was motivated by his extreme religious views. In fact, Intelligence agencies intercepted emails between Hasan and the radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who, at the time, was a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Awlaki was later killed in a drone strike in 2011.

Hasan was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to death by a general court martial. He is currently incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, awaiting appeal.

After his August 2013 conviction, Hasan told his lawyer, John Galligan, to release letters to Fox News in which Hasan pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS -- the Islamic State.

Earlier this year, a lawyer for victims of the shooting and their families told Fox News that some victims are still so damaged physically and mentally they are unable to work five years after the massacre -- and the benefits that come with the Purple Heart would be a lifeline.

"No one will be the same," attorney Neal Sher told Fox News last month.

Mr Sher told Fox News in January there was stiff resistance to the new congressional language requiring a review of Purple Heart consideration.

"The [Obama] administration and the Pentagon," Mr Sher explained. "They lobbied hard against it. But we worked very hard and we were successful in garnering bi-partisan support for this."

As for me, since combat is combat and location has little to do with being in combat, I think it's about time that those in the terrorist attack at Fort Hood get the awards which they are entitled.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Veterans Choice Program May Get Fixed

About a month or so ago, I received a Veterans Choice Card in the mail. And as instructed, I called the VA to register.

The VA created the Veterans Choice Program to help reduce delays by scheduling appointments with private facilities when the VA couldn't provide treatment in a timely manner.

To qualify, Veterans must live more a 40-mile from a VA facility or are unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days.

After a lengthy conversation with the VA Choice representative on the phone, I came away thinking that was a waste of time and effort.

What took place was standard operating procedure when dealing with a big organization. 

First, I gave the VA rep my name, Social Security number, and then sat through a litany of questions pertaining to my health.

Second, I was told that the VA is not responsible for any emergency services administered at a local hospital unless first authorized by the VA. 

So yes, if I have a heart attack and need to get to a local hospital -- I should get pre-authorization from the VA.

Finally we got down to the reason for my call, I received a Veterans Choice Card in the mail instructing me to register with the VA before using it. 

When I told the VA rep what I was calling about, I was told that was "inaccurate." 

After I read the letter to her, she told me that I was being instructed to call to find out if I qualify for the VA's Veterams Choice Program of seeking medical assistance away from the VA. 

I asked if this could be used for emergenciesy? I was told no.

After giving her my address, she advised me that I am within the 40 mile limit and that I do not qualify for the Choice Program. 

She said the reason that I do not qualify is that her computer lists my residence as 29 miles from a VA hospital or clinic. She told me that a VA clinic in Sonora, California, is only 29 miles away. 

I laughed and told her that Sonora is 62 miles away. I also told her that VA clinic is another 4 or 5 miles on the other side of the actual town of Sonora, and that it is almost a hour and a twenty minute drive because of the mountain roads and such. 

She said that she was "not concerned about my driving issues" and that the VA only care about the distance "as the crow flies".

I told her that the "crow flies" over 3 mountain ranges, two rivers and a lake to get to Sonora, but I'm not a crow. 

I said thanks for you assistance and I figured that I would simply throw the Choice Card away. 

Was I frustrated, disappointed, angry? No, none of the above.

While the VA has provided me with great medical coverage, I frankly have come to accept this sort of thing from the Obama Administration who has a real problem with supporting Veterans. 

If you remember, back in 2009, a few months after taking office, the Obama administration advised America that the biggest threat to our National Security came from Veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

It's true, in 2009, Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano endorsed a DHS report which classifies returning US Veterans as "potential terrorist threats." And no, the administration has never gone back on that report.

As for the VA Choice Program, I see the program as "damage control" after the VA in various locations across the nations were caught putting Vets on extended waiting lists and refusing treatment. 

The Choice Program was supposedly going to stop the waiting lists and the treatment delays, but reports started to surface of how the VA administration was fighting the new program because it would take the focus of treatment elsewhere instead of only at VA hospitals and clinic locations. 

The Choice Program has been a failure and the Democrats in Washington DC have stated that Vets are not interested in using the program -- that is a lie!

Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA, now claims the Veterans Choice is not being used and in February there was a proposal by President Obama to divert funds from the program into other areas such as his amnesty program.

Given the program is just a couples months old, one has to ask why the hurry to defund it? Why the push to divert funds?

Why try to gut it? Most veterans of the 8.6 million veterans received their Veterans Choice Cards in the past couple months.

Fact is, Obama's VA has tried to discourage Vets like myself from using the program by saying we are close to a hospital or clinic "as the "crow flies." 

It is not a matter of Vets not wanting to use the program. 

It is about the VA rigging the system to make it appear as though Vets don't want to use it -- when in reality it is the VA who has been telling Vets they do not qualify because of distance. 

To give an example of how the VA discouraged Vets from using the Veterans Choice program, it is believed that 80% of the Vets who thought they qualified for the outside care options were rejected by the VA because of the "as the crow flies" standard.

While that it pathetic on the part of the VA, now a new development is taking place. 

On March 24th, 2015, just a few days ago, it was reported that the VA Choice program's distance rule may get a fix. 

After much debate over how the VA has chose to define the 40-mile distance rule for Vets seeking access the new VA Choice Program, the VA has announced that it's changing the definition.

Rather than using the "as the crow flies" measure of 40 miles, the VA will now rely on driving distance from a VA medical facility as the qualifier to use Veterans Choice.

The program lets Veterans see a civilian health care provider if they live in a remote area or can't get an appointment at a VA facility.

Under the VA Access, Choice and Accountability Act passed by Congress last year, veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility were supposed to have access to the Choice Card program.

The days of the VA's strict "as the crow flies" straight-line interpretation may be numbered. And yes, Vets with lengthy drives because of geographic obstacles or convoluted roadway routes may find help in the future.

The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee had a hearing scheduled on March 24th regarding the 40-mile rule. Earlier this month, 41 Senators petitioned VA to relax its interpretation.

House lawmakers also have pressed VA Secretary Robert McDonald for a change, sending him a letter on March 3rd signed by 53 House Representatives.

McDonald says VA decided to make the change after receiving "constructive feedback."

"We've determined that changing the distance calculation will help ensure more veterans have access to care when and where they want it," McDonald said.

According to the VA, the policy change will be made through "regulatory action in the coming weeks."

It seems they are getting it together, but we will still have to wait and see.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S. Army Charges Bowe Bergdahl with Desertion

Clockwise from top left: Sgt. Michael Murphrey, age 25, was killed in an IED blast on Sept. 5, 2009; Private First Class Morris Walker, age 23, and Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen, age 29 were killed in an IED explosion on Aug. 18, 2009. Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss, age 27, died in a firefight on Aug. 26, 2009. Second Lt. Darryn Andrews, age 34, and Private First class Matthew Michael Martinek, age 20 died after an RPG ambush on Sept. 4, 2009.
We Must Never Forget

Above are the faces of those killed while looking for Bergdahl in the days following his desertion.

We must never forget the six U.S. Army soldiers who were killed as a result of soldier Bowe Bergdahl deserting and joining the enemy in Afghanistan.

Now that Bowe Bergdahl is being charged with desertion, maybe now families of the soldiers killed looking for Bergdahl can get closure.

Yes, we must never forget that six soldiers killed looking for Bergdahl after he "walked off" and deserted while in Afghanistan.

The families of these troops know very well how they died while looking for Bergdahl. Like many others, they believe there should be justice for the needless deaths of their family members.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deserted and joined the Taliban after abandoning his post in Afghanistan.

He was then freed five years later in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees in a deal hailed by the White House but blasted by his fellow soldiers for deserting.

Today, March 25th, 2015, it was announced the U.S. Army will charge Bowe Bergdahl with desertion.

The development comes 10 months after his May 2014 release -- which initially was a joyous occasion, with his parents joining President Obama in celebrating the news in the Rose Garden.

Bob Bergdahl, who actually made contact with the Taliban and studied Islam during his son's captivity, appeared with Obama with a full beard and read a Muslim prayer while Bergdahl's wife Jani embraced the president.

But that euphoria quickly gave way to controversy in Washington as Bergdahl was accused of walking away from his post and putting his fellow soldiers in danger.

The trade of hardened Taliban fighters for his freedom raised deep concerns on Capitol Hill that the administration struck an unbalanced and possibly illegal deal.

Bergdahl will be specifically charged with desertion and misbehavior toward the enemy. A senior U.S. official said he will face a court martial and trial.

Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, has been reviewing the massive case files and had a broad range of legal options, including various degrees of desertion charges.

A major consideration was whether military officials would be able to prove that Bergdahl had no intention of returning to his unit -- a key element in the more serious desertion charges.

The announcement marks a sharp turnaround for the administration's narrative of Bergdahl's service and release.

After the swap last year, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Bergdahl served with "honor and distinction."

But as Bergdahl faced criticism from fellow troops for his actions, the administration faced heated complaints from Congress over the Taliban trade itself.

"This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages," said former Rep. Mike Rogers, (R-Mich.), then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Bergdahl disappeared from his base in the eastern Afghanistan province of Paktika on June 30, 2009. A private first class at the time, he had three days earlier emailed his parents expressing disillusionment with the war.

"The future is too good to waste on lies," Bergdahl wrote, according to the late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. "And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American."

Bob Bergdahl, his father, a former UPS delivery driver in Sun Valley Idaho, replied with a message bearing the subject line, "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!"

But what if he was not a Hostage and simply Joined the Enemy?

The Army said Bergdahl was "captured" by the Taliban after abandoning his post in Afghanistan. And yes, people keep talking about his "captivity".

But what if he was never "captured" and was never a "captive?" Can this be the truth?
This are legitimate questions since Bergdahl did in fact leave a note in his tent that said he was leaving to start a new life and renounced his citizenship. 

For the next five years, Bergdahl is believed to have been helped the Taliban and Pakistan's infamous Haqqani network.

In one of several hostage videos released during his absence, he said he was "captured when he fell behind a patrol."

But fellow soldiers who knew the truth of what took place were outraged after the trade was made with the Taliban, and have accused him of deserting.

Along with this, we know that the lives of American troops were lost while looking for him -- and some troops from his unit in Afghanistan assert that other American lives were put at risk in the hunt for Bergdahl as well.

Bergdahl was freed on May 31, 2014, after the White House agreed to trade five high value Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay for him.

He was turned over to Delta Force operatives in eastern Afghanistan, near the border village of Khost, while the Taliban members were handed over to authorities in Qatar, which helped broker the swap.

The trade was blasted by critics who said it violated America’s longstanding tradition of not negotiating with terrorists, and from Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers, many of whom view him as a traitor.

There were also concerns – which would prove well-founded – that the Taliban members would return to the fight against the West.

Of the five, Mohammad Fazl, the former Taliban army chief of staff; Khairullah Khairkhwa, a Taliban intelligence official; Abdul Haq Wasiq, a former Taliban government official; and Norullah Noori and Mohammad Nabi Omari, at least three have attempted to rejoin their old comrades, sources told Fox News.

Then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Bergdahl was a “prisoner of war,” and that the deal did not amount to negotiating with terrorists. He also said concerns about Bergdahl’s deteriorating condition made it imperative that the U.S. move quickly to make the trade.

A Pentagon probe concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl had "walked away" from his base, but stopped short of accusing him of desertion, reopening the probe after his return.

Bergdhal was promoted to sergeant while in captivity, and had accrued more than $200,000 in back pay by the time he was traded for the Taliban Five.

He was assigned to duty at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, after his return.

Now that Bergdahl is being charged with desertion, families will see if Bergdahl will truly be held responsible for the deaths of their loved ones who risked everything to find him -- when he did not want to be found.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Native American Folklore & Our Connection With Eagles

I love animal symbolism. I've always been fascinated with the link we make connecting ourselves to the traits, abilities, and characteristics of animals. As for eagles, the eagle has been a symbol of power and strength for thousands of years. 

Eagles are known for their sharp vision, keen sense of perception, and powers of intuition,  Eagles represent action, resolve, and grace.

Eagles figure prominently in the mythology of nearly every Native American tribe. 

In most Native cultures, eagles are considered medicine birds with impressive magical powers and play a major role in the religious ceremonies of many tribes.Native American Indians see the Eagle as a symbol of great strength, leadership, and vision. 

Bald Eagles are a sacred bird in most Native American cultures, and their feathers, like those of the Golden Eagle, are central to many religious and spiritual customs among Native Americans. Eagles are considered spiritual messengers between gods and humans by most Native American cultures.

Some Native American cultures represent the eagle with the "thunderbird." The "thunderbird" was a mythical super eagle responsible for creating thunder and lightning by beating its wings. Some believed that its feathers carry prayers to the sun. 

Eagle totems appear to inspire us to reach higher and become more than we think we are capable of. 

The "thunderbird" symbol is atop traditional totem poles of the Pacific Northwest Coast in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, and in British Columbia. In the sacred circles of wisdom among these Northwest coastal tribes, the "thunderbird" is said to be perched regally atop totem poles to denote the ultimate status of an emblem of power. 

The 'thunderbird" is said to be the supreme chief among the Native pantheon of natural spirit energies. 
Totem poles are traditionally made from the cedar tree, as the cedar tree is considered sacred to the "thunderbird." 

For the tribes of the Northwest, legend states the "thunderbird" dwells in regal solitude in mystic cedar forests where no human is allowed. Believe it or not, the Northwest tribes' legend also says the "thunderbird" smokes tobacco from cedar pipes. Yes, we have to remember that legends are just legends.

Of course, as with most legends, they do contain some truth. Whether that's the reason for it or not, in some Northwest Coast tribes, the floor used to be dusted with eagle down at potlatches and other ceremonies as a symbol of peace and hospitality. 

In the mythology of some tribes, the eagle plays a leadership role either as king of the birds or as a chief who humans interact with. In other legends, the eagle serves as a messenger between humans and the Creator. 

Many pow-wow dancers use the eagle claw as part of their regalia as well. Eagle feathers are often used in traditional ceremonies, particularly in the construction of regalia worn and as a part of fans, bustles and headdresses. The golden eagle, also known as the "war eagle," is particularly associated with warriors and courage in battle, and it is golden eagle feathers that were earned by Plains Indian men as war honors and worn in their feather headdresses.

In some tribes, this practice continues to this day, and eagle feathers are still given to soldiers returning from war or people who have achieved a great accomplishment.

As for the Native American Indian "warbonnet" headdress -- full eagle-feather warbonnets like that worn by the Lakota Sioux or Cheyenne? 

Believe it or not, from what I've read, most American Indian tribes hardly ever used eagle feather headdresses. In fact, while feathered warbonnets may be the best-known American Indian headdresses, they were not the most commonly used.

As far as taboos, because the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle are considered such a powerful medicine animal, the hunting or killing of eagles was restricted by many taboos.

Eating eagle meat was forbidden in many tribes. It is said that in some legends, a person who eats eagle meat is transformed into a monster. 

In Southeastern tribes, only men with special eagle medicine, known as Eagle-Killers were permitted to kill eagles. In the Cherokee tribe, even Eagle-Killers were only permitted to kill eagles during wintertime.

In some Plains Indian tribes, feathers were required to be plucked from a live eagle so as to avoid killing them. To accomplish this, eagles were trapped in a net and released. The Lakota give an eagle feather as a symbol of honor to someone who achieves a task. In modern times, it may be given at an event such as a graduation from college.

The Choctaw considered the Bald Eagle, who has direct contact with the upper world of the sun, as a symbol of peace. The eagle plays a crucial role in the sun dance of the Plains Indians and symbolizes the sun in the rites of some of the Southwestern tribes.

The Iroquois tell of Keneu, the golden eagle, and of Oshadagea, the giant eagle with a lake of dew on his back who lives in the western sky. The Pawnee believed eagles to be a symbol of fertility because they build large nests high off the ground and valiantly protect their young. They honored the eagle with songs, chants, and dances.

The Comanche's myth of eagle creation began when the young son of a chief died and was turned into the first eagle as an answer to his father's prayers. The Comanche eagle dance celebrates this legend. The Pueblo Indians associated the eagle with the energies of the sun, both physical and spiritual, as well as symbols of greater sight and perception. The Zunis carve stone eagle fetishes for protection, ascribing to them both healing and hunting powers, and the Eagle Dance is one of the most important traditional dances held by the Hopi and other Pueblo tribes. 

The Navajo Indians have a myth that says eagles originated when a warrior, Nayenezgani, slayed a monster who lived at Wing Rock. Afterward, he turned to the beast's offspring, who were now alone in their nest. Rather than have them grow up evil, he turned the youngest into an owl and the oldest into an eagle, who would be a source of feathers for rites and bones for whistles.

Eagles are also one of the most widespread clan animals used by Native American cultures.

Tribes with Eagle Clans include the Chippewa whose Bald Eagle Clan and its totem are called Migizi, while the Golden Eagle Clan is called Giniw, the Hopi whose Eagle Clan is called Kwaangyam or Qua-wungwa, the Zuni whose Eagle Clan name is K'yak'yali-kwe, and other Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, Plains tribes like the Caddo and Osage, and Northwest Coast tribes like the Haida, Kwakiutl, Tsimshian, and Tlingit.

The eagle was an important Clan crest on the Northwest Coast, and eagle designs can often be found carved on totem poles, ceremonial staffs, and other traditional Northwestern art. And many eastern tribes, such as the Cherokee, also have an Eagle Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

While eagle legends vary from tribe to tribe throughout the United States and Canada, most Native American legends agree that when an eagle appears to you, it means that you are being put on notice. The sight of an eagle is said to be telling us to be courageous. To dream of a flying eagle or one who is perched high signifies good fortune or victory coming your way. It is also said that if it scares you or attacks you, it means there are some self-imposed limitations you need to get through. 

But please, don't think the Native Americans had a corner on how humans perceive eagles. Across our Southern border, among the ancient Aztecs, legend says that during the creation of the present world, the eagle and the jaguar fought over who would have the honor of becoming the sun. 

The Aztecs say the eagle settled the matter by flying into a fire and becoming the sun. The jaguar, following close behind, settled for becoming the moon, with the spots on his coat showing that he had been only partially burned. The Aztecs also believed that their chief god told people to settle at a place where they found an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake. Legend says that place is Mexico City. 

And yes, the eagle has been used as a "banner" by many of the great empires throughout history, from Babylon to Egypt, through to Rome, and even the United States. 

In ancient Greece, Zeus changed into the form of an eagle to help himself control thunder and lightning. Greeks regarded eagles as the sacred emblem of Zeus. Believe it or not, in early Christianity, the eagle was seen as a symbol of hope and strength, representing salvation. The eagle appears twice in the book of Revelation, both times in a context that suggests it is on the side of God. 

Not surprisingly, for Muslims, eagles represent war and ferocity, and dominance.

Long before Mohammed, who died around 632 AD, and even longer than before the birth of Christ, the eagle was a strong emblem in the Roman Empire. Besides believing in human sacrifice, among other things, eagles were once revered as a symbol of wisdom and power by the ancient Druids in Ireland.

For the Norse, legend has it that the eagle is associated with their god Odin because of its wisdom and light. 


It may not be a coincidence that such different cultures across thousands of years have adopted the same symbol. For those fighting for freedom, the Eagle's ability to fly high to the tops of mountains and silently into valleys, makes it associated with a free spirit. 

That's not bad for a bird that weighs only 15 pounds in its adult stage, has a wingspan of more than seven feet, and is capable of flying at speeds nearing 100 miles per hour before using its two-inch-long talons to inflict up to 1,000 pounds per square inch worth of force on its prey.

The Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States of America. On June 20, 1782, the Continental Congress adopted the still-current design for the Great Seal of the United States including a bald eagle grasping 13 arrows and a 13-leaf olive branch with its talons. 

The Bald Eagle appears on most official seals of the U.S. government, including the presidential seal, the presidential flag, and in the logos of many U.S. federal agencies.

During the days following the cowardly Muslim attack on 9/11/2001, the American Bald Eagle played a role in uniting our nation with the circulation of pictures like these seen here.


While I have read the popular legend, I can't find solid evidence that Benjamin Franklin ever publicly supported the wild turkey rather than the Bald Eagle as a symbol of the United States. And while many might not realize it, Golden Eagles typically have larger bodies and shorter wingspans compared to Bald Eagles. 

As most of us know, adult Bald Eagles are easily identified by their brilliant white heads and tail feathers and black bodies and wings. They have black talons and yellow eyes, beaks and feet. In contrast, Golden Eagles have shorter, darker bills and dark feathers with a pale golden cast in the area around the neck. 


Some confuse Golden Eagles for young Bald Eagles because young Bald Eagles do not obtain their adult colors until they are about five years old. In captivity, bald eagles have a life expectancy of up to 50 years, but almost all in nature die before reaching maturity because of environmental hazards and stresses. 

An eagle's eyes are up to eight times sharper than that of humans and are much more color-sensitive. Located on the side of the head, their eyes provide a wide field of view. Bald eagles have large wings compared to other birds, allowing them to soar and hunt vast areas with a minimum of effort. During migration, they can travel 400 to 500 miles a day. 

Bald Eagles have large, sharp talons and strong feet which they use to catch their prey. All of these traits can be viewed symbolically as ideas to assist humans to be more successful in their own lives. Even with the eagle's magnificent ability to fly, it stays connected to the Earth. 

So how far back in man's history can we trace the idea that we must keep ourselves grounded and lay a solid foundation for ourselves? 

The talons - meant to grasp and hunt - reflect the need to utilize the things of the earth but also have been the symbol of power and strength. It appears eagles have represented power far longer than we suspect. A recent report speaks to the connection mankind has with eagles. 

On March 14th, 2015, it was reported that Neanderthals wore eagle talons as jewelry 130,000 years ago.

The eight eagle talons from Krapina are arranged with an eagle phalanx that was also found at the site.

So yes. long before they shared the landscape with modern humans, Neanderthals in Europe wore eagle talons. In fact, researchers identified eight talons from white-tailed eagles -- including four that had distinct notches and cut marks -- from a 130,000-year-old Neanderthal cave in Croatia. Researchers suspect the claws were once strung together as part of a necklace or bracelet.

The talons were first excavated more than 100 years ago at a famous sandstone rock shelter site called Krapina in Croatia. There, archaeologists found more than 900 Neanderthal bones dating back to a relatively warm, interglacial period about 120,000 to 130,000 years ago. They also found Mousterian stone tools, a sign of Neanderthal occupation, a hearth, and the bones of rhinos and cave bears, but no signs of modern human occupation. 

Homo sapiens didn't spread into Europe until about 40,000 years ago. The eagle talons were all found in the same archaeological layer. The talons had been studied a few times before, but no one noticed the cut marks until last year when the curator of the Croatian Natural History Museum was reassessing some of the Krapina objects in the collection.

The researchers don't know exactly how the talons would have been assembled into "jewelry", but some facets on the claws look quite polished -- perhaps made smooth from being wrapped in some kind of fiber, or from rubbing against the surface of the other talons. There were also nicks in three of the talons that wouldn't have been created during an eagle's life some 130,000 years ago,

Now extinct, Neanderthals were the closest known relatives of modern humans. They lived in Eurasia from about 200,000 to 30,000 years ago. Recent research has uncovered evidence that Neanderthals may have engaged in some familiar behaviors, such as burying their dead, adorning themselves with feathers, and even making art and jewelry.

While the report said that scientists debate the extent to which Neanderthals were capable of abstract thinking, their ability to deliberately make and wear jewelry suggests that they could be wrong.

Did the Neanderthals connect with the eagles spiritually like say the Native Americans or other cultures did later? Did they use their talons as a sign of status in their clans or tribes? Did others see a wearer of eagle talons as someone in the same vein as an Indian warrior? No one knows the answers to those questions.

And of course, if this find is simply about talons being used as an adornment, this is still significant because it's more proof of how long humans have tried to associate themselves with eagles for one reason or another.

And yes, that's just the way I see it. 

Tom Correa

Cattle Breed -- The Texas Longhorn

Survivor of the Past - Bright Promise for the Future

by Dr. Stewart H. Fowler, PhD

Cattlemen caught in a devastating cost-price squeeze are now taking a serious second look at the old Texas Longhorn. Doubly stunned by the inflation of all cost factors and the recession of cattle prices, cattlemen are actively seeking new "profit genes" for their beef herds.

The quest has broadened to an international search for "new" genes that might boost productivity and profits. In this process, many have tended to overlook a promising gene source close to home. I refer to the Texas Longhorn.

An almost forgotten reservoir of unique genetic material, the Longhorn is literally an old source of new genes! In fact, the Texas Longhorn may prove to be a real "genetic gold-mine" in the future of our beef industry.

Foundation stock

What is so unique about the Texas Longhorn? What makes it different from the multitude of other breeds now available in North America?

Simply this: The Texas Longhorn was fashioned entirely by nature right here in North America.

Stemming from ancestors that were the first cattle to set foot on American soil almost 500 years ago, it became the sound end product of "survival of the fittest".

Shaped by a combination of natural selection and adaptation to the environment, the Texas Longhorn is the only cattle breed in America which - without aid from man - is truly adapted to America.

In his book The Longhorns, J. Frank Dobie states this situation well: "Had they been registered and regulated, restrained and provided for by man, they would not have been what they were."

Hardy, aggressive, and adaptable, the Texas Longhorns were well suited to the rigors of life on the ranges of the southwestern United States.

They survived as a primitive animal on the most primitive of ranges and became the foundation stock of that region's great cattle industry.

With the destruction of the buffalo following the Civil War, the Longhorns were rushed in to occupy the Great Plains, a vast empire of grass vacated by the buffalo.

Cattlemen brought their breeding herds north to run on the rich grazing lands of western Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Montana. Thus, the Great Plains became stocked largely with these "bovine citizens" from the Southwest. And, the Texas Longhorns adapted well to their expanding world.

They had reached their historical heyday, dominating the beef scene of North America like no other cattle breed has done since.

However, the romantic Longhorn era came to an end when their range was fenced in and plowed under and imported cattle with quick maturing characteristics were brought in to "improve" beef qualities.

Intensive crossbreeding had nearly erased the true typical Longhorn by 1900.

Rescue from extinction

Fortunately, beginning in 1927, the Texas Longhorn was preserved by the United States Government on wildlife refuges in Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Also, a few southwestern cattlemen, convinced of the Longhorn's value as a genetic link and concerned for their preservation, maintained small herds through the years.

The Texas Longhorn has been perpetuated further by members of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, which was formed in 1964. Thus, the Texas Longhorn was rescued from extinction.

It was unfortunate for today's beef industry, however, that most of the continuing interest in the Texas Longhorn was in its historic and academic aspects.

The Longhorn's genetic prospects and economic potential were almost completely overlooked for many years.

Genetic diversity

After seven years of closely observing and studying Texas Longhorns, I am convinced that these cattle may prove to be a real genetic goldmine. Preserving the Texas Longhorn has maintained a substantial amount of unique biological variation which was accumulated over some 400 years in these nature-made cattle.

This genetic goldmine provides insurance against genetic erosion that stems from genetic uniformity in our modern cattle breeds. Such genetic erosion could make it almost impossible for cattlemen of today and tomorrow to meet emerging new needs.

The reservoir of unique genes of the Texas Longhorn can provide some of the genetic variation and flexibility needed to meet the emerging and future needs of the beef industry.

At the same time, the Texas Longhorn maintains genetic diversity capable of maximizing hybrid vigor for man's current needs.

Thus, the reservoir of genetic material in the Texas Longhorn represents a valuable natural resource. This genetic reservoir grows more valuable as our rapidly-changing economy forces new needs, handicaps, and demands on our cattle industry.

It becomes increasingly valuable as our human population bites off increasing amounts of our more productive land, as our grain supply moves into international trade, and as farm and ranch labor becomes less available.

This is why the Texas Longhorn is rapidly becoming "the old breed with the new future."

Profit-building trails

By utilizing the Texas Longhorn's unique genetic potential, several of the physical and economic problems confronting the rancher and feeder can be solved or greatly eased.

This genetic potential includes genes for high fertility, easy calving, disease and parasite resistance, hardiness, longevity, and the ability to utilize the browse and coarse forage material on marginal range lands more efficiently than most other cattle breeds.

Under the harsh environmental conditions of many areas of North America, the existence of these traits, which have been strongly fixed by nature's culling in the Texas Longhorn, spell the difference between a comfortable profit and the cattle enterprise becoming a "story written in red ink!"

High fertility is the most important economic trait in the beef industry. Without a live calf with which to work, all other traits are purely academic!

Unfortunately, many of the European breeds of beef cattle are not noted for high fertility, and several are plagued with real difficulties at calving.

During a long period of survival of the fittest, however, a Texas Longhorn strain evolved which virtually assures that every healthy cow will present a new addition to the herd each year.

This extremely high fertility, which is built into the Longhorn, could perhaps boost the low calf crop percentage found in many beef herds.

Cattle Breed - Corriente

The Corriente can be traced back to the first cattle brought to the new world by the Spanish as early as 1493.

These cattle were hardy breeds chosen especially to withstand the ocean crossing and adapt to their new land.

They were brought to the West Indies and south Florida, as well as to Central and South America.

Over the centuries the descendants of these cattle bred for different purposes - milk, meat and draft animals. They also adapted through natural selection to the various regions in which they lived.

Eventually, their descendants spread across the southern U.S. and up the coast of California.

In the early 1800's, European and other breeds were introduced to the new world, and by the 1900's many ranchers in the Americas were upgrading their herds with modern beef cattle.

Nearly pure descendants of the original Spanish cattle almost disappeared, but some managed to survive with little human care or intervention in remote areas of Central and South America, and in very limited numbers in some areas of the southern U.S.

Today there is evidence of a worldwide growing interest in preserving various strains of these hardy, native cattle.

Cattle associations in Spain, South America and Florida are making efforts similar to the N.A.C.A.'s to recognize their attributes, though few actually support registries.

John E. Rouse, in his book, World Cattle, Vol. III, Cattle of North America, explains the names used in Mexico.

"Descendants of the original Spanish cattle, little influenced by modern breeds, are now seen only in the remote parts of the country. These are generally known as Criollo cattle, although in the state of Sonora the term Corriente is more common, and in Baja California the word Chinampo is used. All these terms, meaning "common cattle" or "cattle of the country" are applied to more or less pure descendants of the Spanish cattle, as well as to the indiscriminate mixtures of these and more recently introduced breeds.

In Florida, the few remaining small, native cattle - cousins of the Mexican Corriente are called Scrub cattle or Cracker cattle, and similar cattle in Louisiana are called Swamp cattle.

Regardless of the name, the N.A.C.A. has made great inroads toward defining, describing and preserving these cattle as a specific breed.

The Name "Corriente": In Central and South America, the various descendants of the early Spanish cattle are generally referred to as "Criollo."

In parts of northern Mexico, they are often called "Corriente," although this term is frequently used for any small cattle of indiscriminate breeding and not just for the type of cattle recognized by the N.A.C.A.

"Corriente" became the most common term used at the border to refer to the cattle purchased for rodeo use.

Consequently, most American cattlemen, ropers and bulldoggers know this name, and it was chosen by the founders of the N.A.C.A. to be used for that registry.

Yes, most stock contractors use Corrientes for rodeos.

Cattle Breed -- The Shorthorn

The Shorthorn breed of cattle originated on the northeastern coast of England in the counties of Northcumberland, Durham, York, and Lincoln.

These counties all touch the North Sea and lie between the Cheviot Hills and the middle part of England.

The first real development of the Shorthorn breed took place in the valley of the Tees River. This river, the valley of which is so well known in the development of the breed, lies between Durham and York counties, and the large cattle that inhabited this fertile valley early became known as Teeswater cattle.

In addition to having acquired a reputation for producing excellent cattle, the Tees River Valley excelled in crops, pastures, and generally high plane of agriculture.

Their Origin

North England is said to have been the home of cattle for centuries.

Sinclair 1 suggests the small Celtic short-horned ox was found in England at the time of the Roman invasion and that later, cattle were introduced from northern Europe by the English, Danes, and others.

By the 17th century well-known types of cattle existed in England, one of which was the "pied" stock of Lincolnshire, which was said to have been more white than colored, and the other red stock of Somerset and Gloucestershire.

There existed in Holderness, a district of Yorkshire, cattle that resembled in size, shape, and color many of the cattle that were found in northern Europe at that time.

At what time cattle had been introduced into England or by whom they were brought in is not definitely known.

The cattle were said to have taken on flesh readily and would fatten into heavy carcasses although their flesh was coarsely grained and dark in color.

Allen 2 states, "The cows were described as large milkers, and the bullocks as attaining a great weight of carcass and extraordinary production of tallow."

The Early Breeders. 

As early as 1580 there existed a race of superior short-horned cattle on the Yorkshire estates of the earls and dukes of Northcumberland.

The coat color of these cattle varied, but among the colors found were light dun, yellow, yellowish red, deep red, red and white patched, white, and roans.

It was not until after 1750 that accurate records of consequence were kept of the cattle of the area or of the breeding practices that were followed. Between 1730 and 1780 many eminent breeders had distinguished themselves in their home localities for cattle of improved type and quality.

Among those who might be mentioned are Sharter, Pickering, Stephenson, Wetherell, Maynard, Dobinson, Charge, Wright, Hutchinson, Robson, Snowden, Waistell, Richard, Masterman, and Robertson.

These men and others recorded pedigrees in the first volume of the English Herd Book, which was not published until 1822, or after most of them were no longer active breeders.

The early breeders of Shorthorn or Teeswater cattle left a heritage with which later breeders could work.

The cattle that they developed were usually of considerable size and scale, with wide back and deep, wide forequarters. Their hair and hide were soft and mellow.

In addition, they were cattle that had ability at the pail and laid on fat readily under conditions of liberal feeding.

It is not to be inferred that these were perfect or ideal cattle as compared to modern standards.

They lacked uniformity and symmetry and were often quite prominent at their hooks and shoulder points; other faults, such as narrowness of chest, lack of spring of rib, short rumps, long legs, and unevenness of fleshing, left much to be desired.

The ability of these cows to produce a good flow of milk has always been an asset to the breed, and size and scale have never been without merit.

Breeders, of course, have striven through the centuries to correct some of the deficiencies that were prevalent in this Tees River stock, and at the same time to retain the most valued characteristics that the breed possessed.

Foundation of the Breed

The Contribution of Robert Bakewell. Robert Bakewell, who was born in Leicestershire in 1726, was a farmer of means who had a great influence on the Shorthorn breed although he never bred Shorthorn cattle.

Prior to the time of Bakewell, farmers practiced the breeding of unrelated animals and prevented the mating of animals that were of close relationship.

It remained for this animal-breeding enthusiast to demonstrate to the English farmer a revolutionary way to improve livestock.

He demonstrated with his Leicester sheep and his long-horned cattle that animals of close relationship could be mated, and if rigid culling was practiced, desirable characteristics could thereby be fixed much more rapidly than by mating unrelated animals.

Following the development of this breeding system by Bakewell, we find not only Shorthorn breeders but also breeders of many classes of livestock adopting his methods.

Today Robert Bakewell is affectionately referred to, as the "Father of Animal Breeding" although in his time he was considered very eccentric and lacking in mental stability.

This was a case of a genius in livestock breeding not being appreciated in his day.


Colling Brothers. 

The Colling brothers, Charles and Robert, are often referred to as the founders of the Shorthorn breed of cattle. Other men had previously contributed to the native cattle of the area, but it remained for these two enterprising breeders to develop the first systematic breeding program.

Charles Colling resided at Ketton, about four miles northeast of Darlington, in the country of Durham.

Darlington had obtained considerable publicity as a market place or "fair" for cattle. Robert Colling settled at Barmpton, which was about a mile closer to the town of Darlington.

It was on these two farms that the foundation of the breed was largely laid. About 1783, the Collings visited the home of Bakewell and made a study of his breeding methods.

The system of inbreeding followed in the Colling herd is illustrated in the diagrammed pedigree of Comet (155) in Chart 2-1.

This bull was calved in 1804 and created quite a sensation when he sold for $5,000 at public auction.

The second calf sired by Favorite (252) was steered and became known as the "Durham Ox."

This beast was fitted for public exhibition and it was shown at the reputed weight of 3,400 pounds.

In those days the cattle were exhibited but were not shown, as are our cattle at the present time. They were toured over the country in somewhat of a sideshow exhibition.

Mr. Robert Colling reared a free-martin heifer that became famous by the name "The White Heifer that Traveled."

This non-breeder was sired by Favorite (252) and attained a live weight of 2,300 pounds.

The publicity that was accorded the "Durham Ox" and "The White Heifer that Traveled" did much to advertise the new breed of Shorthorn cattle that was just being formally founded.

There is no question but that the herds of the Colling Brothers left their mark on the Shorthorn breed because nearly all Shorthorns in the United States or in Great Britain today trace to their herds in one or more lines.

In their herds the bulls Foljambe (263), Favorite (252), and Comet (155) were bred and used, and they also used the great bull Hubback.

The Booth Family.

The Booth family was the next to add considerable merit to the Shorthorn Breed.

It is not definitely known when Thomas Booth of Killerby, in Yorkshire, began breeding purebred Shorthorn cattle, but it is known that in about 1790 he purchased what might be considered the foundation of his herd.

Mr. Booth operated from the estates of Killerby and Warlaby, which were not far apart and only about 15 miles south of Darlington.

Consequently he was near the Colling Brothers and drew heavily upon them for foundation bulls.

Unlike Mr. Bates, his contemporary as a breeder, Mr. Booth did not go to the Colling herd for females but instead used Colling-bred bulls on rather large females that he purchased from other sources.

It is said that he used bulls that were somewhat more refined than the cows to which they were bred.

Apparently Mr. Booth was the first breeder to place great stress on fleshing qualities, and, in contrast to Mr. Bates, valued beef almost to the exclusion of milk.

He developed an aptitude in his cattle to take on flesh, particularly during the dry period. Because of his stress on thickness of flesh and strength of back and loin, the booth family produced a line of Shorthorns of strictly beef type that had strong constitutions.

Mr. Booth seemingly appreciated the Hubback and Favorite breeding more than that of other cattle in the Colling herd, and after securing the type of cattle he wanted, he inbred with much success.

In 1814 Richard Booth, Thomas Booth's son, after studying his father s method of breeding, began breeding Shorthorns. He leased a farm near Studley and later lived at Warlaby.

He is said to have improved upon his father s cattle, and he particularly improved the cattle in the forequarters of bred for straighter underlines.

In 1819, John Booth, the brother of Richard Booth, began breeding cattle at Killerby. After the establishment of the Royal and Yorkshire Shows in 1839, John Booth exhibited at these shows.

Bates Shorthorns.

Thomas Bates was born in Northcumberland in 1775 and was of a good family. In boyhood he was sent to grammar school, spent some time taking more advanced studies, and later was given professional agricultural training.

At 25 years of age he leased the extensive estates of Halton Castle but later lived at Ridley Hall and Kirklevington.

He made a thorough study of the Colling herd and the cattle they produced and inspected the herds of many other breeders of the time before he decided to lay the foundation for a Shorthorn herd.

In establishing his herd Mr. Bates drew very heavily upon the blood of the Collings herd and purchased his first cattle from them in 1800 at what was then regarded as very high prices.

In 1804, he purchased the cow Duchess, by Daisy Bull (186), from Charles Colling at a reported price of $500.

At that time she was four years of age and in calf to Favorite (252). Duchess is a direct descendant of both Favorite and Hubback.

This breeding was said to have greatly impressed Mr. Bates, as he claimed she was the only living direct descendant of these famous bulls.

When Charles Colling affected his Ketton dispersion, Mr. Bates was on hand and purchased and granddaughter of his original Duchess cow and named her Duchess 3d.

She was sired by the $5,000 but Comet (155), who was in turn sired by Favorite (252), and Favorite was also the sire of the dam of Comet, and of the cow Young Phoenix;

Duchess and duchess 3d became the foundation of the very famous Duchess family, which is often thought of as synonymous with Bates breeding.

Thomas Bates stressed heavy milking qualities in his cattle, and our present Milking Shorthorns largely stem from his breeding.

Thomas Bates might be regarded as the founder of the dual-purpose type of Shorthorn.

James Fawcett of Scaleby Castle gave the following description of the Duchess as they were found in the herd of Thomas Bates:

"The character of the Duchess at this time is that of good and handsome wide spread cows, with broad backs, projecting loins and ribs, short legs and prominent bosoms. The head was generally inclined rather to be short and wide than long and narrow, with clear eyes and muzzle, the ears rather long and hairy, the horns of considerable length and waxy. They were good milkers and had for the most part a robust healthy appearance. The color was mostly uniformly red, with in many of them, a tendency to white about the flank."

There was low fertility among the duchess females, and in 1831 the Duchess family had produced only 32 cows in 22 years. Thirty-one of these were recorded in the Herd Book.

During this period of time all of the Bates herd bulls with the exception of one had been of Duchess blood.

In Speaking of the Duchess cattle, Allen 3 states:

"The simple fact was that Duchess cows as a whole, had not been prolific or constant breeders, through abortions and other causes, and whenever they passed a year or two without breeding, he fed off and slaughtered them. The bulls that descended from them showed no lack of virility, and Bates still contended that the tribe had increased in their fineness of quality, were admirable feeders, and good milkers when breeding."

In 1831 Mr. Bates was searching for some females of Colling breeding and spied the bull Belvedere (1706) looking through a barn door at the farm of a Mr. Stephenson, and purchased the bull for $250.

Belvedere was a yellow-roan bull of large scale with heavy shoulders and a mean disposition, but he was a bull of mellow hide.

He was used freely on the Duchess females of the Bates herd, and was the sire of Duchess 34th, who was bred back to her sire to produce Duke of Northumberland (1940), the greatest breeding bull but was also shown to the Championship of England.

Introduction in America

The Shorthorn breed spread to Scotland and then to America in 1783. When first brought to Virginia, the breed had attained the name Durham.

It was the first improved breed to be imported into the new world and the qualities the animal possessed made it in great demand and its influence spread rapidly across America.

Shorthorns were popular with America’s early settlers. They valued this breed for meat and milk and found Shorthorns a willing power for the wagon and plow. 

The breed followed pioneer wagons across the Great Plains and over the Rookies and into the West. 

By 1854, Midwestern farmers had begun direct importations from Scotland, concentrating their efforts on Shorthorns strictly for beef production.

Even in its early history, the breed was recognized because of its ability to adapt. It could be easily bred with the Spanish breed, Longhorns, brought in earlier by conquistadors. 

These early animals fit neatly in the time period to meet demand and needs during the early development of the beef cattle industry.

Although Shorthorns came first, in the 1870’s breeders discovered ‘natural hornless’ cattle occurring from time-to-time in horned herds. Thus, Polled Shorthorns were discovered and were the first major beef breed to be developed in the United States, having gained its origin in 1881 in Minnesota. 

Polled Shorthorns possess the same qualities for adaptability, mothering ability, reproductive performance, good disposition, feed conversion, longevity and popularity as their horned counterparts.

In 1822, the first herd book record was established by Shorthorn breeders called the Coates Herd Book. 

In 1846, The American Shorthorn Herd Book was the first to be published in this country for any breed, with the formation of the American Shorthorn Association (ASA) following 26 years later in 1872. 

Breeders from nine states formulated the organization, wishing to provide a service for its members and a way to record ancestry through the registration of Shorthorns. 

The ASA is one of the oldest American breed organizations in existence today.

Today the ASA has an Appendix Registry (AR) program, which includes Shorthorn Plus and Durham Red registered cattle, which has been ongoing since 1973 with the intent to promote and verify Shorthorn influence in commercial production. 

This program has strengthened the Shorthorn influence by increasing numbers and providing additional germ plasm through the use of related and non-related breeds. 

The ASA is the only British breed with an ongoing Appendix program documenting the influence of related and non-related breeds in the breed registry.

The ASA records approximately 15,000 animals each year. More than 20,000 head are maintained in the association’s whole herd registry. 

The current membership is in excess of 2,500 adult members, with more than 4,000 juniors on the membership roll.

Cattle Breed -- The Beefmaster

Beefmaster is a breed of beef cattle that was developed in the early 1930s by Tom Lasater which was the breed founder.

Headquartered in Texas, his father, Ed C. Lasater, created the breed, from a crossing of Hereford cows and Shorthorn cows with Brahman bulls.

It was the year 1908 when the breeding program leading to their establishment was started by Ed C. Lasater.

He purchased Brahman bulls to use on his commercial herd of Hereford and Shorthorn cattle. The first of these bulls that he used were principally of Gir breeding, although some of the Nelore breed were also used.

In 1925 he introduced Guzerat blood into the herd. And yes, it was Mr. Lasater who also developed a registered Hereford herd in which the cattle had red circles around each eye.

In both his Brahman and Hereford breeding, milk production was stressed.

Following his death in 1930, the breeding operations came under the direction of his son, Tom Lasater, who began to combine the breeding of the Brahman and Hereford cattle and also used some registered Shorthorn bulls.

After making crosses of Brahman-Hereford and Brahman-Shorthorn, he felt a superior animal had been produced and called the cattle "Beefmaster."

The exact mixture of the foundation cattle is unknown, but is thought to be about 25% Hereford, 25% Shorthorn and 50% Brahman.

The Lasater Ranch estimates that modern Beefmaster have slightly less than one-half Brahman blood and slightly more than one-fourth of Hereford and Shorthorn breeding.

Though there are no standards for color, most are red to light red, with white mottled spots. these cattle are a dual purpose breed, meaning that they can be used for milk as well as beef.

The original intention was to produce cattle that could produce economically in the difficult environment of South Texas. Subsequently, the cattle were handled under range conditions that were often adverse,

The breeding operations were carried on in multiple-sire herds and rigid culling was practiced. The culling program was based on disposition, fertility, weight, conformation, hardiness and milk production.

Stress was placed on the production of beef. No selection has been made to characteristics that do not affect the carcass, such as horns, hide or color.

The Lasater Ranch breeding program provided an interesting example of the use of mass selection in reaching a goal.

Critics should recall that other breeds have been established in a similar way -- a blending of breeding followed by selection for economically important points.

Uniformity in many breeds has been achieved only after many generations of selection.

The original concepts of Tom Lasater in developing Beefmaster cattle have continued.

The cattle were selected by using what Mr. Lasater termed "the Six Essentials:" Weight, Conformation, Milking Ability, Fertility, Hardiness and Disposition. 

Considerable progress has been made in selecting cattle that give very satisfactory levels of production under the practical and often severe range conditions.

Satisfaction by ranchers and creditable performance in feedlots indicate the value of stressing the important utilitarian points in developing breeding herds.

Selection continues for those points which were originally used by Mr. Lasater and are now known as the Six Essentials -- Weight, Conformation, Milking Ability, Fertility, Hardiness and Disposition.

 And yes, the Six Essentials are factors looked for in most all breeds today.

Cattle Breed -- Brangus

The Brangus breed was developed to utilize the superior traits of Angus and Brahman cattle. Their genetics are stabilized at 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Angus.

The combination results in a breed which unites the traits of two highly successful parent breeds.

The Brahman, through rigorous natural selection, developed disease resistance, overall hardiness and outstanding maternal instincts.

Angus are known for their superior carcass qualities. They are also extremely functional females which excel in both fertility and milking ability.

How It All Began

A review of the development of the Brangus breed would take us back beyond the founding of the American Brangus Breeders Association in 1949; however, registered Brangus descend from the foundation animals recorded that year or registered Brahman and Angus cattle enrolled since then.

Much of the early work in crossing Brahman and Angus cattle was done at the USDA Experiment Station in Jeanerette, Louisiana.

According to the USDA 1935 Yearbook in Agriculture the research with these crossed started about 1932

During the same period, Clear Creek Ranch of Welch, Oklahoma and Grenada, Mississippi, Raymond Pope of Vinita, Oklahoma, the Essar Ranch of San Antonio, Texas, and a few individual breeders in other parts of the United States and Canada were also carrying on private experimental breeding programs.

They were looking for a desirable beef-type animal that would retain the Brahman's natural ability to thrive under adverse conditions in combination with the excellent qualities for which the Angus are noted.

The early breeders from 16 states and Canada met in Vinita, Oklahoma, on July 2, 1949, and organized the American Brangus Breeders Association.

That organization was later renamed the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA), with headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, and eventually San Antonio, Texas, where the permanent headquarters has been located since January, 1973.

There are now members in nearly every state, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Central America, Argentina, and South Rhodesia in Africa.

Registered Brangus must be 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Angus, solid black and polled. Both sire and dam must be recorded with the International Brangus Breeders Association.

Foundation Angus and Brahman cattle must be registered in their respective breed association prior to being enrolled with the IBBA.

Intermediate crosses necessary to reach the 3/8 - 5/8 percentage are certified by the IBBA.

In recent years, the major portion of the Brangus registered are from Brangus parents, but an increasing number of foundation Brahman and Angus are being enrolled as the breed achieves greater recognition.

Interest in developing breeds of cattle carrying some percentage of Brahman breeding for the general improvement of the commercial cattle of the United States speaks well for the apparent advantages that Bos indicus cattle have in areas of high heat and humidity.

Research at Louisiana has indicated that Brangus cows increased their weights during the summer months while Angus cows lost weight, indicating that they were more adapted to coastal climates.

Calves from Brangus were heavier at birth and weaning and for total pounds produced per cow.

The Angus had an advantage in conception rate and calved earlier, and the calves were more vigorous at birth and survived better to weaning.

The breed have proven resistant to heat and high humidity.

Under conditions of cool and cold climate, they seem to produce enough hair for adequate protection.

The cows are good mothers and the calves are usually of medium size at birth.

They are a hardy, disease and parasite resistant cattle that efficiently produce uniform, predictable calf crops.

The outstanding maternal strengths, feedlot performance, and carcass merit of Brangus are advantageous to ranchers anywhere today -- especially during times of prolonged drought.

This naturally polled, black hide breed was developed to withstand extreme climates and challenging environments. 

Brangus respond well to conditions of abundant feed, but they have shown a toughness to endure under conditions of stress. 

Just for the record, back in the 1950s, my grandfather starting running Brangus on his ranch in Hawaii for all of the same reasons others do today. 

Because they are hardy, disease and parasite resistant, have excellent weight retention and tolerance to heat, anywhere is Brangus country.

Cattle Breed -- The Braford

Braford cattle date to the immediate post-World War II era where they were being developed in United States and Australia about the same time.

Braford cattle are a cross between Brahman and Hereford cattle, hence their name. Brafords are approximately 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Hereford.

The Braford is red like a Hereford with white underbelly, head, and feet. It is stockier than a Hereford, getting the stockiness from the Brahman.

The Braford is primarily used for beef, but sometimes used for rodeo. 

Braford cattle, like most recognized breeds today, were born out of necessity.

In the case of Brafords, the necessity to consistently and efficiently produce a uniform product in specific production environments.

Working with a base of Brahman cows that were primarily Partin and Hudgins breeding.

Alto Adams Jr. began using Hereford bulls on his St. Lucie County, Florida ranch in 1947.

The resulting steer and heifer calves were outstanding, but the Hereford bulls required to produce those calves had extreme problems with feet, eyes and general livability.

Adams quickly realized that using Hereford bulls that were not adapted to South Florida was simply not feasible and he began experimenting with various types of Brahman-Hereford cross bulls.

Eventually he identified Braford bulls that were producing calves that met his needs and he used these bulls and their offspring to form what is recognized as the Foundation Herd of the Braford breed in the United States.

Brafords are known for superior maternal ability.

Early puberty, fertility, calving ease, optimum milk production, maternal aptitude and productive longevity have earned Brafords this distinguished reputation.

Brafords also have heat and insect resistance beacause of a chemical in their blood, this also makes them ornery by nature. They do best in warm climates.

Because Brafords have always been recognized for their superior maternal ability, and early puberty, fertility, calving ease, optimum milk production, maternal aptitude and productive longevity are attributes that have earned Braford females this distinguished reputation, using Braford bulls on adapted purebred or crossbred cows allows cowmen to produce excellent replacement females with the Braford maternal edge.

Braford bulls are not terminal sires. Braford breeders have been careful to increase growth rate in their cattle while avoiding associated large increases in mature size that can reduce the ability of Braford bulls and females to function in everyday conditions. 

By avoiding the "bigger is better" syndrome that has plagued the purebred cattle business for years, Braford breeders have also avoided associated problems of difficult calving and market steers that are too big to fit industry needs when finished.

In 1962, Braford breeders formed the Australian Braford Society. The International Braford Association was organized in 1969 by American breeders. 

In 1985, the American Hereford Association began registering Braford, but concentrated on breeding purebred animals -- mating Brafords to Brafords -- rather than crossing Herefords and Brahmans. 

The IBA and the AHA came together in 1994 to create the United Braford Breeders. 

Today, the breed is found primarily in the United States, Australia and Mexico.

Cattle Breed -- The American Brahman

The American Brahman was the first beef cattle breed developed in the United States.

It was bred in the early 1900s as a cross of four different Indian cattle breeds: Gyr, Gujarat,Nelore and Krishna Valley.

Probably the greatest tribute to the Brahman breed and its breeders is the rapid growth of the breed outside of the United States. They have constituted a large proportion of our exports of breeding cattle outside continental North America.

The Brahman is mainly used for breeding and the meat industry. It has been crossbred extensively with Bos taurus (European) beef breeds of cattle. It has been used to develop numerous other U.S. beef breeds including Brangus, Beefmaster, Simbrah and Santa Gertrudis.

It is said that the disposition of Brahman cattle is often questionable. Yet, Brahmans are intelligent, inquisitive and shy. 

They are unusually thrifty, hardy and adaptable to a wide range of feed and climate. However, these characteristics also suggest careful, kind handling methods. 

Brahmans like affection and can become very docile. They quickly respond to handling they receive, good or bad. Well bred, wisely selected and properly treated Brahmans are as easily handled as other breeds.

As for their physical characteristics:

Brahmans are intermediate in size among beef breeds found in the United States. 

Bulls will generally weigh from 1600 to 2200 pounds and cows from 1000 to 1400 pounds in average condition. 

The calves are small at birth, weighing 60 to 65 pounds, but grow very rapidly and wean at weights comparable to other breeds.

Brahmans very in color from very light grey or red to almost black. A majority of the breed are light to medium grey. 

Mature bulls are normally darker than cows and usually have dark areas on the neck, shoulders and lower thighs.

Studies at the University of Missouri found that Brahman and European cattle thrive equally well at temperatures down to 8° F. 

They found that European cattle begin to suffer adversely as the air temperature goes above 70° F, showing an increase in body temperature and a decline in appetite and milk production as 75° F, is passed. 

Brahmans, on the other hand, show little effect from temperatures up to and beyond 105° F. 

Although heat tolerance is only one factor in environmental adaptation of cattle, it is considered the most important. These are some of the other factors that allow Brahmans to adapt to adverse conditions.

The short, thick, glossy hair coat of the Brahman reflects much of the sun's rays, adding to its ability to graze in the glaring midday sun without suffering.

The black pigmented skin of Brahmans keeps out the intense rays of the sun, which in excessive amounts will damage deeper tissue layers.

An abundance of loose skin on the Brahman is thought to contribute to its ability to withstand warm weather by increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling.

Brahmans have sweat glands and the ability to sweat freely through the pores of the skin, which contributes materially to their heat tolerance.

One factor contributing to the great heat tolerance of Brahmans, discovered in the Missouri studies, is that they produce less internal body heat in warm weather than do cattle of European breeds. 

Waste heat is produced from feed at the expense of growth and milk production.

Brahman cattle have been found to fill a unique place in American cattle production. The Brahman and cattle carrying percentages of Brahman breeding have been found extremely useful in the southern coastal area of the United States, where they have demonstrated their ability to withstand hot and humid weather and to resist insects. 

In more recent years Brahman cattle have spread considerably from their initial locations and are now found widely through the United States. 

They are also good mothers and produce a very satisfactory milk flow under conditions that are adverse for best performance of the European breeds. 

Cancer eye is almost unknown in the breed. 

They have established a considerable reputation for a high dressing percentage, and their carcasses have a very good "cutout" value with minimum of outside fat.

While Brahman cattle are known for their extreme tolerance to heat and are widespread in tropical regions, and their resistant to insects due to their thick skin is also a plus, Brahman cattle live longer than many other breeds -- they often produce calves at ages 15 and older.

As for their origin, the Brahman breed originated from Bos indicus cattle originally brought from India. 

Through centuries of exposure to inadequate food supplies, insect pests, parasites, diseases and the weather extremes of tropical India, the native cattle developed some remarkable adaptations for survival. 

These are the "sacred cattle of India," and many of the Hindu faith will not eat meat from them, will not permit them to be slaughtered, and will not sell them. 

These facts, in conjunction with he quarantine regulations of the United States, have made it difficult to import cattle from India into this country.

All the Bos indicus cattle are characterized by a large hump over the top of the shoulder and neck. Spinal processes below the hump are extended, and there is considerable muscular tissue covering the processes. 

The other characteristics of these cattle are their horns, which usually curve upward and are sometimes tilted to the rear, their ears, which are generally large and pendulous, and the throatlatch and dewlap, which have a large amount of excess skin. 

They also have more highly developed sweat glands than European cattle -- Bos taurus -- and so can perspire more freely. 

Bos indicus cattle produce an oily secretion from the sebaceous glands which has a distinctive odor and is reported to assist in repelling insects.

As for their origin, it is said that there are a least 30 well defined breeds of cattle listed in India. 

Three principal strains or varieties were brought to the United States and used in the development of the Brahman breed are the Guzerat, the Nellore, and Gir. 

In addition, the Krishna Valley strain was introduced and used to a lesser extent. 

The general similarity of the Guzert strain to the cattle selected and developed in this country would indicate that cattlemen working with the breed have generally preferred this type.

As for their introduction into the United States, there are conflicting reports as to the exact manner of the introduction of Indian cattle to the United States, but it is believed that the first Indian cattle which is recorded were imported in 1849 by Dr. James Bolton Davis of Fairfield County, South Carolina, who, it is believed, became acquainted with Bos indicus cattle while serving as agricultural adviser to the Sultan of Turkey. 

Although the descendants of these cattle were spread widely throughout the South, their complete identity was lost during the Civil War. 

The story goes that two Indian bulls were given to Richard Barrow, a cotton and sugar planter of St. Francisville, LA., in 1854, by the British Crown in recognition of Mr. Barrow's services of teaching cotton and sugar cane culture to a British representative who was to take these arts to India. 

The offspring of these cattle became known as "Barrow Grade" cattle, becoming widely known through the Gulf Coast region. 

The success of these two animals led to the importation of two more Indian bulls in 1885 by J.M. Frost and Albert Montgomery of Houston, Texas. 

By mating these two bulls to the offspring of the Barrow bulls, the first attempt to concentrate the blood of Bos indicus cattle in the United States was attempted.

A few animals were imported by circus organizations from time to time, some of the more desirable ones being purchased by farmers and ranchers. 

One of the more famous of such purchases was a red bull named "prince," acquired by A.M. McFaddin, of Victoria, Texas, in 1904, from the Haggenbach Animal Show. 

Another was the sale of about twelve head of Indian cattle by Haggenbach, these finally being acquired by Dr. William States Jacobs of Houston.

In 1905 and 1906, the Pierce Ranch of Pierce, Texas, assisted by Thomas M. O'Connor of Victoria, Texas, imported thirty bulls and three females of several Indian types. 

These were personally selected by Able P. Borden, manager of the Pierce Ranch.

In 1923-24, 90 bulls of the Guzerat, Gir and Nellore types were imported from Brazil. 

In 1925, a second importation from Brazil, including 120 bulls and 18 females, reached this country. 

Both groups were shipped to Mexico and driven overland to the United States.

Eighteen Brazilian bulls were brought to Texas by way of Mexico in 1946.

It is said that during the period from 1910 to 1920, many cattle in the south-western part of Texas and the coastal country along the Gulf of Mexico showed considerable evidence of Bos indicus breeding. 

Naturally, many of the bulls that were used were the result of crosses with other breeds. Some breeders attempted to keep the stock pure, but they were in the minority.

Since there are records of less than 300 imported Brahmans, most of which were bulls, it must be assumed that other breeds supplied the foundation animals for the breed. 

The bulls were used on cows of the European breeds and on the descendants of these crosses. 

By the fifth generation (31/32) the offspring carried not only a preponderance of Bos indicus breeding but selection pressure had permitted the development of an animal generally regarded as superior to the original imports for beef production.

The Brahman is one of the most popular breeds of cattle intended for meat processing and is widely used in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, United States, Colombia and Australia among many other places.