Following the 1982 Military World Championship rodeo in Yuma, AZ a group of cowboys decided they had been through enough and wanted a better way to organize military rodeos. Ron Arrington and Roy Madden worked tirelessly through 1984 to build the Military Rodeo Association (MRA). Using mailing list obtained from previous championships and the Camp Pendleton rodeo, they sent out invitations to join the new association. The early eighties saw the rise of top hands like Steve Wood, John Dougherty and Bill Brown who helped continue building the association. In addition to individual competitions, the MRA was focused on building interservice team competitions. This period in MRA history saw people like Dan May build a team from scratch at New River NAS, Freddie Waltz helping with the MCAS Tustin team, Steve Wood leading the 29 Palms team to back-to-back championships in 1982 and 1983 and the rise of Sonny Borrelli leading the team at Camp Pendleton. The MRA started sanctioning rodeos in 1985 and held the first MRA World Championship at 29 Palms, CA. That first championship saw Jack Walker of the 3rd FSSG Okinawa win the All Around and Saddle Bronc titles. He was joined on the podium by Bareback champion Eric Germany and Bull Riding champion Brad McCassie.
In 1986, Ron Arrington was transferred to Okinawa Japan and turned over day-to-day operations of the MRA to fellow Marine Curt Jones. 1987 saw the MRA back at 29 Palms for another World Championship rodeo. This year saw Sam Lee of the 1st FSSG Camp Pendleton nail the first recorded hat trick in the MRA winning the All Around, Bareback and Saddle Bronc titles. Bud Dissette of MCAS El Toro won the Bull Riding title with Sonny Clark of Ft. Polk, LA winning the Tie-Down roping and teaming with partner Rick Johnson to win the Team Roping title.
The 1988 season ended in Elko, NV where over 45 contestants competed for World Championships. When the dust settled Randy Rimel from Camp Henson Okinawa won the Bareback title while fellow Camp Henson team members Joe Coca and Brad Cummings won the Team Roping. The 1988 All Around title went to Bruce White of MCAS Kaneohe Bay.
With the beginnings of what would become Operation Desert Shield (The Gulf War), most of our military cowboys were involved in operations that prevented them from competing in rodeos. This down time allowed for rethinking how the organization was structured and it was reborn in 1990 as the Military Rodeo Cowboys Association (MRCA).
A video tribute to the MRA years.
If you have documents, pictures or other military rodeo memorabilia, we would love to include it in our Hall of Fame. Please email quality scans, pictures or other information to: firstname.lastname@example.org