Fort Benning welcomes home Olympic marksmanship team

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By Capt. Ken Woods, Fort Benning Public Affairs /

Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit returned home to Fort Benning during a welcome home ceremony held at Hook Range after competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The ceremony featured the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment Silver Wings jump team jumping-in the American flag during the National Anthem, an exhibition shoot by the Army Olympic shooters and remarks given by Maj. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, Maneuver Center of Excellence commanding general.

Soldier-athletes, like USAMU’s Olympic shooters, demonstrate the scope and scale of the U.S. Army, the unique opportunities available through Army service and the breadth of missions the Army team conducts every day to make a difference. Soldiers competing on the world stage in international shooting competitions and the Olympic Games are a testament to the skills and training American Soldiers receive and develop.

Five-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller, the Beijing 2008 Olympic champion, finished 14th in qualifying with a score of 131 in the men’s double trap shotgun shooting event at this year’s Rio Olympic games. “It’s an honor to be able to support not only the Army but the United States of America,” said Eller.

USAMU shooters represent the skill, professionalism and dedication of the elite U.S. Army team by competing and winning for the Army and the nation on the world stage. “Being on the world’s biggest stage for a month is huge, it felt really good to represent the Army in a world class arena,” said first time Olympian Spc. Dan Lowe. Lowe placed 28th in the men’s 3-position rifle event and 34th-place in the men’s 10-meter air rifle competition at the Rio Olympics.

There is a direct correlation between the training, values and dedication it takes to be a U.S. Soldier and achieving athletic success. Both require a desire for excellence, physical discipline, mental agility, training and teamwork. USAMU Soldiers culminate these attributes to serve the nation as Soldiers while training for and reaching their goal of representing the United States of America at the Olympics.

“This was my second Olympics, my first being London. It’s unbelievable to make an Olympic team, let alone go back five times or even two times, but to be an Army Olympian is really the icing on the cake for all of us,” stated Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond. Richmond finished seventh in the men’s double trap shotgun shooting event Aug. 10, 2016, at the Rio Olympic Games, missing his 12th target in a three-way shoot-off for the final spot in the semifinals.

USAMU Soldiers translate their shooting skills and lessons learned from competitions into training for other Soldiers, applying what they learn to teach Soldiers how to shoot their weapons more accurately and lethally in combat. Two-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, finished 19th in the men’s 50-meter prone rifle shooting event. “It’s an honor to represent the Army and the United States,” said McPhail.

Since USAMU’s establishment by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, USAMU shooters have won 25 Olympic Medals out of the 48 Shooting Sport Olympic Medals that the United States has won. Still left to compete is Staff Sgt. John Joss who will soon depart to compete in the Paralympics in Rio.

For more pictures of the welcome home ceremony, visit fortbenningphotos.com.

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