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Ship Ahoy: PBR bucks on USS Lexington flight deck

Luciano De Castro Rides Safety Meeting for 90.5 Points on the USS Lexington_Credit_AndyWatson_BullStockMedia.JPG
Posted at 3:06 PM, Nov 23, 2020

Here’s one you’ve never seen before -- because it’s never happened.

Cowboys from the Professional Bull Riders tour spent Sunday bucking bulls on the flight deck of the legendary World War II aircraft carrier USS Lexington.

Workers hauled in an estimated 300 tons of dirt and steel to build the makeshift arena, according to the PBR. The USS Lexington Museum docked in Corpus Christie Bay with the flight deck stretching 872 feet across “The Blue Ghost.”

Why did they do it? For a new charitable PBR event called Cowboys for a Cause. The day raised $250,000 for Operation Homefront, a not-for-profit group that provides military families with critical financial assistance, transitional and permanent housing and family support services to prevent short-term needs from turning into chronic, long-term struggles.

“Our biggest heroes in the world at the PBR are our military veterans, our active military, our first responders," said PBR CEO Sean Gleason. "We honor them across this country at all of our events, so to have the opportunity to do this — there was no better choice.”

“These are the people who keep us safe and help us to do what we love to do, so any chance I can get to to help them, I’m going to do that,” said bull rider Dalen Swearingen.

According to archives the USS Lexington was the Navy’s longest-serving working carrier when decommissioned in 1991. During World War II the ship spent 21 months in combat. Her planes destroyed 372 enemy aircraft in the air and 475 more on the ground. She sank or destroyed 300,000 tons of enemy cargo. The ship’s guns are also said to have shot down 15 planes. According to the the museum, the Japanese reported Lexington sunk no less than four times. Yet, each time she returned to fight again, leading the propagandist Tokyo Rose to nickname her “The Blue Ghost.”

As for Sunday’s competition, 15 PBR riders were paired into teams with Team Bad Boy Mowers winning by a point and a half.

“It’s really cool to be riding on a ship," Swearingen said. "I don’t know if that’s ever been done and I’m blessed to be here.”

The PBR is scheduled for an early season stop at First Interstate Arena in Billings on Jan. 22-24.