All-new, back-to-back episodes of Amazing America with Sarah Palin treated viewers to a bomb disarming robot, a home inside an abandoned missile silo, a special hunting excursion for veterans, and a profile of a true American hero known as The Horse Soldier. This eclectic hour of entertainment truly showcased just how amazing Americans can be.
In the first show, field host Tara Conner was busy. First, she visited Tennessee to meet the Bristol Bomb Squad at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Conner met with Officer Brandon Barr who told her about what it takes to protect the iconic race track. Bristol Motor Speedway seats over 170,000 people, so many lives potentially hang in the balance as Barr and his colleagues are on standby in case the bomb squad is needed. That squad includes Frank The Tank, a state-of-the-art robot. Frank is equipped with cameras and the ability to fire at targets if necessary. The robot can even climb stairs. When things appear too dangerous for the officers, Frank The Tank is dispatched to get up close and personal with any suspicious packages or items.
The squad conducts some suspicious package drills. Conner gets dressed in a bomb suit, which can weigh 80-100 pounds not including the helmet. The necessary protection costs around $25,000. After hearing of an Army man who actually ran a marathon in the suit, Conner was inspired to try to take a lap around the track. She took about ten steps, which led Palin to quip that perhaps she’ll finish by “next summer.”
Conner also had the exciting task of driving the robot, using a remote control from an office. She got Frank The Tank to fire at a cooler. After a big explosion, Conner and the squad investigated the debris. Sgt. Dave Slagle and Sgt. Brian Hess explained that before the robot was on the team or if it isn’t working for some reason, officers would have to get a lot closer than desired to a potential dangerous situation.
The fun continued for Conner, who got to blow some stuff up with Lt. Grant Hale. It was an exciting and entertaining endeavor with a very serious lesson. Bomb squads “put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Palin said.
In the same half-hour installment Conner headed to Kansas. “You never know when disaster will strike,” warned Palin. Well, if it strikes in the Sunflower State, there are some people who will be more than ready. “She [Conner] discovered in true Wizard Of Oz fashion, there’s no place like this home,” said Palin. That home is underground, stocked with food and amenities, and highly guarded. When Conner arrived she was greeted by a guard who checked her for weapons. Finally she met up with Larry Hall, the owner of Luxury Survival Condo. “This is crazy,” Conner marveled. You can see why she put it that way. The facility used to be an intercontinental ballistic missile silo designed to withstand a direct nuclear strike and keep functioning. Hall and crew have preserved that capability. Many people prep for disaster nowadays but what’s different about this condo is its ability to allow people to live off grid indefinitely. There’s a shooting range, a movie theater, a bar and lounge, a pool table, and workout rooms.A 75-foot swimming pool is also included.
Palin calls it “a miracle of engineering” that feels light and airy despite being deep underground. What about eating, you ask? They’ve got that covered and then some. Thanks to a backup food supply with a shelf life of 25-30 years and a hydroponics and aquaculture farm that could raise up to 70 types of plants and three kinds of tilapia. Conner took a turn in the security chair to oversee the entire facility, quite a job considering these units go for about a million and a half dollars each.”If disaster strikes do you have a designated meeting spot in place?,” Palin asked. “And how are you fixed for staples like canned food and bottled water and batteries? It’s better to have that stuff on hand and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
In the second episode it was time to play Army. We all loved to do that as a kid, but this time it’s for adults. Field host Jerry Carroll flew to Florida to meet Dave Winters, the head of Black Dagger Military Hunt Club. The group provides an outdoor experience for wounded vets with live ammo and live animals. The idea is to help those who were injured in war have some fun as they battle their serious obstacles.
Carroll’s visit included ambitious day and night ops. Along the way he met three amazing vets who were there as guests of the all-volunteer nonprofit. Each day in America 22 veterans commit suicide. That has to change. “You stood for us, now we want to stand for you,” said Winters.
Before the guys set out for some target practice, tracking, and more, two vets and a vet’s spouse dropped from the sky on parachutes, including Keith Hanley, an Army vet and weapons trainer with Black Dagger. Then we’re introduced to the unbelievable men who will take part in a day of rewarding activities.
Joel Tavera is an Army vet who was injured in Iraq in 2008. The burn patient has to stay out of direct sunlight and he admits he’s “more like a vampire” these days. He came in search of the healing that comes with being out in the woods. Frank Wade was part of the Army military police for seven years. He medically retired with PTSD. “I need to salute the courage of Frank,” said Palin. “He’s coping with an incredibly traumatic affliction that many of our vets deal with, PTSD. Since it’s invisible to the naked eye, too often post traumatic stress, it goes undiagnosed. And because so many soldiers, they have that tough, independent mindset well, they assume that seeking help is a sign of weakness. But, on the contrary it takes guts to reach out and the help is out there for you.”
Wade often misses his buddies and the comradery of being in the service. Days like this bring that feeling back to him. Terry Del Pizzo Jr. is also on this trip. The Army vet is now confined to a wheelchair. His speech is labored and he pulls the trigger with his mouth. Through it all his sense of humor stayed in tact. Del Pizzo provides much comic relief in this moving episode. Bird house targets and real animals were no match for this spirited group of heroes. They took part in a successful black boar hunt, a ram hunt, and a night vision hunt. A well-deserved day of fun and fellowship for America’s finest people. The big night on Sportsman Channel finished up in Tennessee, where Tara Conner returned to meet with Todd Nichols, a U.S. Special Forces vet who was among the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11. He also helped put the first hoofs on the ground.
Only two people from Nashville ever rode a horse into battle: Andrew Jackson and Todd Nichols. Lofty company for sure. Nichols was able to ride horses through the rugged, mountainous terrain while saving lives in the process. This amazing American speaks three languages and he’s been to over 70 countries. Nichols took Conner horse back riding, target shooting, and bow hunting. Perhaps the best part however–the stories Nichols told of his unique place in the war on terror. “Thank you Todd for your service and for being a great poster boy for the kind of man that the U.S. armed forces helped produce,” Palin said. “And who knew in this day and age of laser guided weapons, we still have a highly trained mountain calvary fighting for us. Sometimes the old ways are the best. And I also want to give an extra special thanks to Joel, Frank, and Terry for sacrificing so much to preserve the freedoms of every man, woman, and child in America.”
Amazing America with Sarah Palin airs Thursdays on Sportsman Channel.