OTF Soldier Story for June 6, 2011 - Sgt. Sherri Jo Gallagher
Current Unit: U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit
Current Position: Service Rifle Shooter and Instructor
Component: Active Duty
Current Location: Fort Benning, Ga.
Hometown: Prescott, Ariz.
Years of Service: 2
While deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year, Sgt. Sherri Jo Gallagher had the opportunity to train female Soldiers in the Afghan National Army (ANA) in basic marksmanship skills. Working alongside many of the women who had never previously operated a firearm, Gallagher was able to use her decades of precision shooting experience to increase the Army’s overall combat readiness and provide further training to American Soldiers and their allies.
During her deployment, Gallagher and other members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) taught female officer candidates how to operate weapons, particularly the M15 rifle and M9 pistol. In addition to marksmanship fundamentals, the ANA Soldiers were instructed in weapon safety, range commands and gun maintenance.
“It was very rewarding to work with the female ANA Soldiers and watch them succeed on the range, knowing this success will further their confidence, ability and credibility as female officers in a male-dominated country,” Gallagher said.
The impact of her sharpshooting program went far beyond the classroom—this was one of the first times that Afghan females were eligible to participate in officer candidate school.
“They are all very proud to be serving their ‘Mother Afghanistan’ to better their country and their lives,” said Gallagher. “These are such great opportunities for them, as just a few years previously they weren’t even allowed out of their house. I am extremely proud of all of them.”
Now stateside, she continues to serve with the USAMU, which is known for providing the most comprehensive small-arms marksmanship training within the military.
“I have an amazing job for the simple reason that I know that what I do directly affects those around me and it makes a difference,” she said. “It is very rewarding to instruct others knowing that what you teach them could possibly save their lives or the lives of those around them.”
Competing in marksmanship events since she was young girl, Gallagher’s reputation as an outstanding precision shooter has helped her excel within the Army. Last fall, Gallagher was the first female to be named Soldier of the Year. Competing at the Best Warrior event at Fort Lee, Va., she went head-to-head against some of the Army’s most experienced enlisted Soldiers in physical, mental and leadership challenges.
“It was a great honor to be selected as the Soldier of the Year,” she said. “The efforts I put into it were not my own, but an accumulation of knowledge passed to me through the training of the USAMU and other mentors throughout my career. There is no better feeling than to realize that your goals have been accomplished due to the hard work of yourself and your team around you.”
Originally from Prescott, Ariz., Gallagher is currently stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., where she serves with the USAMU on the service rifle platoon. And for the young Soldier, everything has come full circle.
“I had been competing against the Service Rifle Platoon at the national marksmanship championships since I was 10 years old,” she said. “But after I was recruited to join the Army in 2008, I now compete with them.”