Henry Repeating Arms honored three Texas heroes at the NRA Foundation Banquet on May 3 during the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Dallas, Texas. Anthony Imperato, president of Henry Repeating Arms, presented the heroes with American-made Henry God Bless America Edition lever-action rifles to recognize their outstanding acts of bravery, heroism and going above and beyond the call of duty to help their communities.
As a main sponsor of the event, Imperato invited the recipients, Stephen Willeford and Johnnie Langendorff, to join him on the stage. Both men are hailed as heroes for chasing down and stopping the gunman responsible for the mass shooting that took place at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 300 miles south of Dallas. “These two gentleman that just walked out on stage are the epitome of true American heroes. They embody the person that we should all aspire to be,” Imperato told the crowd.
Willeford, a former NRA instructor, heard the gunshots from his home and sprang into action without hesitation. He grabbed his rifle and ran barefoot across the road where he and the gunman exchanged gunfire, which led to the gunman fleeing in his SUV. Langendorff, who saw the action unfold from inside his car, let Willeford into his truck and a high-speed pursuit began to chase down the gunman. While keeping local law enforcement informed of their location, they followed the wounded shooter until the chase ended when the gunman crashed his SUV into a ditch.
“Stephen and Johnnie’s actions on that fateful day stopped evil, saved lives, and ended one of the most tragic events of 2017. Twenty-six people lost their lives that day and may God continue to comfort the families, friends, and neighbors who lost a loved one that day,” Imperato said as the crowd rose to their feet for the two heroes.
The third honoree, Ryan Ashcraft, became known as “the flying cowboy” because of his actions immediately following Hurricane Harvey. The devastating storm inflicted $125 billion in damages throughout Texas where it made landfall. The extensive flooding put thousands of people and millions of heads of cattle at risk, so Ashcraft took to the skies in his helicopter to help ranchers drive their cattle to high ground, a task that would be impossible over land. Ashcraft saved thousands of cattle and dozens of people across seven counties.
As Ashcraft took hold of his Henry rifle, Mr. Imperato stated, “We would like to thank Mr. Ashcraft for his selfless acts and showing the rest of the country what being a Texan is all about, helping your neighbors.”
The crowd of more than 2,000 people rose to give multiple standing ovations during the presentation. “Thank you again to all of our recipients and thank you all for coming tonight. God Bless you all, and God Bless the United States of America,” Imperato concluded as the crowd rose to applaud the heroes one last time.