Ox wrestler Cody Devers pays tribute to fallen US Marine

Hunter Hogan, better known as HD to his family and friends, was an unusual rodeo cowboy in his youth. In fact, he had the opportunity in 2009 to continue his love of rodeo with a college scholarship.

But his love for the country was greater.

Hogan therefore enlisted in the US Marines in October 2009, extending military service to a third generation of his family. On June 23, 2012, Lance Cpl. Hogan was killed in action at the age of 21 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. His death came 18 months after marrying his beloved wife, Brittney.

Cody Devers was also a standout young rodeo, and now he’s a professional steer wrestler, qualifying this year for his first Wrangler National Finals rodeo. Devers never knew Hogan – and yet the Texan cowboy feels like he has known the Marine his entire life.

“I heard about him when I was in my senior year in 2014,” Devers said. “His father, Steve Hogan, created the HD Hogan Foundation, wanting to give scholarships to rodeos, to people entering the armed forces. Everything HD loved and lived for.

“So I applied for the scholarship. The cool part about it was researching him and learning more about him and his life, learning about his heritage and what he believed in. I really feel like we had a connection. So I wrote my essay and they gave me the scholarship. I was super excited about it.

Devers put that money to good use at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, where he continued to rodeo, and then at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. While in Northwestern Oklahoma State, he took second place in steer wrestling at the 2018 College National Finals rodeo. In fact, first place went to Tristan Martin, who is also this year in his first Wrangler NFR.

Seven years after learning and writing this essay on Hogan, and after winning this scholarship, not a day goes by that Devers doesn’t think of the fallen Marine. Devers competed this week in honor of Hogan, and with tonight’s 10th and final lap deemed Patriot Night, it’s certainly fitting to mention Devers doing it. But that’s really nothing new for Devers.

“I feel like I have devoted my entire career to HD. I feel like I knew him, ”said Devers. “He’s a guy I think about every rodeo, every time I put my hand on my heart for the national anthem. To be able to rodeo, to have our freedom, to do whatever we want to do with our life – without our soldiers we wouldn’t have any of these freedoms.

To some extent, Devers can understand Hogan’s decision to join the Marines. But Devers remains in awe of Hogan or anyone else risking their lives to protect and defend the United States.

“I have had a few family members who served, and I was just extremely proud of them,” Devers said. “They are tougher than I have ever been to stand up and volunteer to protect this country. And the sacrifice HD has made for us is just amazing. It is the ultimate sacrifice.

This is why Devers consistently advocates – and would certainly appreciate donations to – the HD Hogan Foundation (www.circlehdrodeo.org). The foundation maintains Hogan’s spirit by awarding college scholarships and raising funds for veterans organizations.

“It’s just paying everything up front, going to another person who was lucky enough to feel that connection with Hogan and to have this opportunity that I got,” Devers said. “I wish I could have met him in person. I think we would be great friends. With our morals, our beliefs, our way of thinking about America, we are very similar.

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