Tag Archives: U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

NCO posts highest finish for American man in rifle prone at Rio Paralympics

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Staff Sgt. John Joss may not have reached the medal stand Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the 2016 Paralympic Games, but the four-year member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit certainly proved his name belongs alongside the shooting world’s elite.

Joss started the day next to 40 of the world’s best shooters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, competing in the mixed R6-50-meter rifle prone competition. By day’s end, his scores netted him a fifth-place finish. It was the highest finish for an American man at the competition.

While not bringing home any hardware is certainly disappointing, the top-five finish showcased Joss’ deftness with the rifle in his first Paralympics. He qualified for the medal round after a sixth-place finish in outdoor qualification amid blustery conditions. National Paralympic Coach Bob Foth said Joss made smart decisions throughout qualification in reading wind speed and movement. Once action moved indoors for the finals, Joss improved his standing by one position.

Staff Sgt. John Joss placed fifth in the mixed R6 50-meter rifle prone event Sept. 14 at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (File photo courtesy of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
Staff Sgt. John Joss placed fifth in the mixed R6 50-meter rifle prone event Sept. 14 at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (File photo courtesy of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)

“This is totally different than anything I’ve ever done before,” Joss told USA Shooting after the competition. “I felt calm and on fire at the same time. I know I was working with a kind of shaky hold. I was making smart decisions, but there isn’t much I could do at the end. I did the best I could, and I really took a lot out of it. It’s hard to hit a target that small alone, then when you have an elevated heart rate, a pulse in your hand and your front sight starts moving around, it makes it a lot harder.”

Joss’ performance is also testament to how far he has come since sustaining both physical injuries and emotional hardship in 2007. Joss had both of his legs seriously injured in an improvised explosive device attack while deployed north of Baghdad, Iraq. He returned to the United States to undergo multiple surgeries and begin a grueling rehabilitation process before he was dealt another blow — Joss’ father was killed in a vehicle accident two months after his arrival at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Joss subsequently made the difficult decision to amputate his right leg. He began shooting competitively at Fort Benning, Georgia, to supplement his rehabilitation. Joss soon found success. He joined the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, he won gold at the USA Shooting National Championships. Two years later, he has served notice to the rest of the shooting world that he will be a force in the coming years.

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks broke a Paralympic swimming world record in winning her first gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Marks won the women's 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1.28:13. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
Sgt. Elizabeth Marks broke a Paralympic swimming world record in winning her first gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Marks won the women’s 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1.28:13. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)

WCAP swimmer back in action

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks returns to the pool Thursday, Sept. 15, for the first of three events she is scheduled to compete in.

The Paralympic swimmer from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program competes in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay Sept. 15. She will swim the 4×100-meter medley relay Friday, Sept. 16, and closes the Rio Paralympics in the SM8 200-meter individual medley.

Marks has already claimed one gold medal at these Paralympics, winning the SB7 100-meter breaststroke with a world record time during the weekend.

Army athletes continue quest for gold at Rio Olympics

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

The gold-medal chase is still on for several Soldier-athletes taking part in the 2016 Olympic Games as the competition enters its final week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sgt. Hillary Bor continued to impress in his unlikely trek to the Games by winning his semifinal heat Monday in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 8:25.01. Bor’s time ranks sixth overall among competitors. He will run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase final Wednesday morning.

For Bor, who wasn’t mentioned in most media projections of pre-Olympic Trials favorites to earn berths on Team USA, the chance to race for a medal is an unprecedented opportunity. While he was an accomplished NCAA steeplechaser, having been named an All-American four times while attending Iowa State University, Bor had stopped running competitively for nearly two years before he enlisted in 2013.

“I was not running when I joined the military,” Bor told the Army news service last month after his runner-up finish at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. “Then I started running for fun just to represent the Army at the Army Ten-Miler and in cross country.”

That fun developed into a competitive streak, one that Bor used to help his All-Army team win this year’s Armed Forces Cross Country Championship at Bend, Oregon. Bor followed that up with his Olympic berth. Now he has a chance to claim one of sports’ biggest prizes, something he said he wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the resilience he has honed while part of the Army. He is also grateful for the opportunity to compete at all given that his unit – the 230th Financial Management Support Unit, 4th Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade – at Fort Carson, Colorado, is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

“I was actually scheduled to deploy with my unit, but my (Army) brothers deployed instead of me,” Bor said. “That changed my mindset, that I needed to work out, because you don’t take anything for granted. I started training hard, and I realized that I had a chance.”

That chance arrives Wednesday.

Boxing team

Three U.S. boxers remain in the hunt for the country’s first gold medal since Andre Ward claimed the hardware in the light heavyweight division of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

When Shakur Stevenson (bantamweight), Gary Russell (light welterweight) and Claressa Shields (women’s middleweight) return to the ring for action today and Wednesday, they will have an NCO in their corner.

Sgt. 1st Class Joe Guzman is part of the coaching staff led by Billy Walsh. For Guzman, who is an assistant boxing coach for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colorado, the Olympics are familiar territory. He was part of the staff for Team USA Boxing at the 2012 London Olympics as a trainer. This time around, he is a full-fledged assistant, part of a staff that includes Augie Sanchez in addition to Walsh.

Guzman has been a WCAP coach since 2008. Before his foray into coaching, he was an accomplished boxer in his own right. Guzman was a three-time All Armed Forces champion and won a silver medal at the 2007 World Military Championships. He qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2008, but his career was cut short by a knee injury.

Other news

Three other Soldiers, including two NCOs, from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program compete later this week.

Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher begins action in the modern pentathlon Thursday. Schrimsher is coached by fellow Soldier, Staff Sgt. Dennis Bowsher. Staff Sgt. John Nunn competes in the 50-kilometer race walk Friday. Spc. Paul Chelimo will run Wednesday in the 5,000-meter race.

Six other athletes from WCAP and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit have already finished competition at the Rio Olympics. They include:

  • Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond finished 7th overall in the men’s double trap competition Aug. 10.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller finished 14th overall in the men’s double trap competition Aug. 10
  • Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson finished 10th overall in the men’s 25-meter rapid fire pistol competition Saturday.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail finished 19th overall in the men’s 50-meter rifle prone competition Friday.
  • Spc. Leonard Korir finished 14th overall and Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir finished 19th overall in the men’s 10,000-meter race
  • Sgt. Hillary Bor runs the 3,000-meter steeplechase July 8 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Bor finished second to earn a spot in the Rio Olympics. He has reached the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, which will be run Wednesday (Tim Hipps / Army News Service)
    Sgt. Hillary Bor runs the 3,000-meter steeplechase July 8 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Bor finished second to earn a spot in the Rio Olympics. He has reached the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, which will be run Wednesday (Tim Hipps / Army News Service)

Third U.S. Army Marksmanship Soldier heading to 2016 Olympics

By BRENDA ROLIN
U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

After seven months of speculation and uncertainty, Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) double trap competitor and shooter-instructor, is now headed to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Richmond earned the last double trap seat on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Shooting Team May 19 during the 2016 Shotgun Olympic Trials in Tillar, Arkansas.

Richmond, of Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania, won the gold medal in the 2015 Fall Selection match in Tucson, Arizona, in October. That match was one of two Olympic trials for shotgun, and he has been in a waiting game since then to finish what he started.

Richmond said it was hard to describe the level of competition he faced at Tillar.

“I just kept trying to stay in the present, stay in the moment and continue my routine and just hit more targets than the rest of them,” he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, accepts congratulations after winning the final double trap seat on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team during the 2016 Shotgun Olympic Trials Part II in Tillar, Arkansas, May 19, 2016. Richmond also competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. (U.S. Army photos by Brenda Rolin)
Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, accepts congratulations after winning the final double trap seat on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team during the 2016 Shotgun Olympic Trials Part II in Tillar, Arkansas, May 19, 2016. Richmond also competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. (U.S. Army photos by Brenda Rolin)

Richmond’s win in Tucson in October also put him in direct competition with two of his USAMU teammates — Sgt. Derek Haldeman of Pendleton, Oregon; and Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Holguin of Yorba Linda, California — who won the silver and gold, respectively.

Although each one of them planned to win the nomination to the Olympic Team, Richmond, who also participated in the 2012 Olympic Games, said the three continued to train and prepare for this day together.

“We are only as strong as the weakest member of the team,” he said. “We have a strong bond and sharing this brotherhood of the Army takes it to another level. We are all happy to see each other succeed.”

Four-time Olympian and U.S. Olympic Shotgun Team coach Todd Graves said natural talent and the opportunity for Olympians to train together often gives them an edge. For the USAMU double trap team, he said this is especially true.

“As a group, being able to train together when you’ve got two or three of the top double trap shooters in the world, it helps when you get to train with them,” he said.

As for whether Graves had a favorite, he said this was a win-win situation.

“With these guys, you could have put their pictures up on a board and thrown darts at them, and I would have been happy with any of them,” he said.

Despite high hopes for skeet shooter Spc. Hayden Stewart, who is also assigned to USAMU and who tied for the gold during the 2015 Fall Selection Match, none of the USAMU skeet team members won enough points during competition to secure the final skeet position on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Shooting Team.

Though Stewart of Columbia, Tennessee, was one of the favorites to win the remaining skeet position after tying with U.S. Team member Frank Thompson in the Fall Selection Match in Tucson, Thompson ended up winning the coveted seat on the Olympic Team. Stewart finished 3rd overall.

Three other USAMU skeet team members also competed: Spc. Mark Staffen, Spc. Dustan Taylor and Pvt. Christian Elliott.

Staffen was in top form and won the gold in the skeet competition at the Shotgun Olympic Trials in Tillar.

Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, fires at one of the hundreds of clays he needed to hit to earn the final double trap seat on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team during the 2016 Shotgun Olympic Trials Part II in Tillar, Arkansas, May 19. Richmond will join two other USAMU Soldiers at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, fires at one of the hundreds of clays he needed to hit to earn the final double trap seat on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team during the 2016 Shotgun Olympic Trials Part II in Tillar, Arkansas, May 19. Richmond will join two other USAMU Soldiers at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

However, Staffen didn’t have enough points from the Fall Selection Match to earn the skeet position on the Olympic Team and ended up in 5th place overall. Taylor of Shawnee, Oklahoma, and Elliott of Bedford, Indiana, finished 11th and 12th respectively.

Staffen, from Lewis Center, Ohio, said he was very happy to win the Tillar event, and he would not be shooting in the Olympic trials without the Army behind him.

“The Army has helped me a lot with getting my skill level up and providing resources to shoot at this level,” he said.

Richmond is the third Soldier from USAMU to make the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team.

He will join teammates Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail and Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller at the Games this August. McPhail, an International rifle competitor, won an automatic berth for 50-meter prone rifle Sept 3, 2015. Eller won an automatic berth for double trap Sept. 14, 2015.

McPhail of Darlington, Wisconsin, and Eller of Katy, Texas, earned their automatic berths on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team through high finishes in international world shooting sport events in the year prior to the Games.

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.

USAMU Soldiers translate their shooting skills and lessons learned from competitions into training for other Soldiers in preparation for missions across the globe.