History and tradition are part of the U.S. Army culture. By embracing history, and the lessons learned from it, Army units can continue their missions and make a difference. Behind any unit’s success though, are the Soldiers who make everything happen.
Like all other successful Army units, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit was built by the hard work of past Soldiers. Since its creation in 1956, the unique Army unit has contributed directly to weapons advancements that increased combat effectiveness. Not only that, the ‘Home of Champions’ has gained worldwide respect by winning hundreds of individual national titles, more than 40 World Championships, and 25 Olympic Medals in shooting sports disciplines.
In true Army tradition, the USAMU annually honors those Soldiers who have made a difference and gone above the standard of excellence that the unit has become known for.
This year, the USAMU and the Military Marksmanship Association honored six veterans during a Facility Dedication and Hall of Fame Ceremony on October 13, 2023.
The ceremony started with a demonstration of the capabilities of Finals Hall and its official renaming to Pullum Hall, after Lt. Col. (retired) William C. Pullum.
When Pullum came to the unit, he was known as a demanding leader, but he helped us reach new heights, said two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Gary Anderson, via a written statement read by Ray Carter, President of the MMA.
“When the 1964 Olympic Games took place, the impact of Bill Pullum’s leadership was emerging. I won my first Gold Medal in 300m Free Rifle and Martin Gunnarsson won Bronze. Lones Wigger achieved his great breakthrough by first winning Bronze in 50m Prone and then, winning Gold in 50m Three Position, while Tommy Pool took Bronze.”
Over the years, Pullum’s success as a rifle coach made people wonder how he did it, but us shooters knew, he made us learn how to coach ourselves, said Anderson.
“Bill Pullum never told us what to do. He coached us by asking questions. When we dug deep within ourselves to answer his probing questions, we found answers that made us better shooters.
Pullum’s impact on marksmanship expanded well beyond the range. As the USAMU shop foreman, his creativity and ingenuity helped USA shooters obtain better equipment. He then went on to write three marksmanship training publications. Pullum’s expertise led him to become part of the developing shooting sports governance that was instrumental in the creation of what ultimately became USA Shooting.
All this hard work made Pullum a widely acclaimed world leader in his field, said Anderson.
“Lt. Col. Bill Pullum, U.S. Army retired, was a coach, teacher and leader who made America’s marksmanship efforts reach unprecedented heights. Placing his hallowed name on this Finals Hall so that new generations of Soldiers and shooting sports athletes can be inspired by his efforts to excel is most appropriate.”
Next on the ceremony agenda was the dedication and renaming of the 50m Outdoor Range to Lones Wigger Hall, after Lt. Col. (retired) Lones W. Wigger Jr.
People called him Wig, Sir or the Big Guy, said Carter. This U.S. shooting legend is known for a long list of accomplishments, which was even more impressive when you realize there were no World Cups back then, said Carter.
“He had one chance a year to win medals and set world records and only three out of four years at that. Then throw in two tours to Vietnam, and he was a busy guy.”
Carter said Wigger was not only a legendary marksman but also a mentor to many athletes in the sport.
“Wigger was instrumental in inspiring many of us to start shooting, including myself.”
Overall, his impact on the sport is undeniable, said Carter.
The Wigger family expressed heartfelt gratitude for the smallbore range dedication honoring their father and applauded Robert Aylward, the USAMU executive officer, for his commitment to making this happen, said, Ron Wigger, son of Lones Wigger.
“For those of you who don’t know, it’s a pretty lengthy process to get a building or range or a hall named at Fort Moore. It’s about a two-year process, and it finally happened. We are really blessed that it was able to happen during the USAMU reunion too—that’s just icing on the cake.”
2022 MMA Persons of the Year
From the five competitive teams, the Custom Firearms Shop and Instructor Training Group, the USAMU Soldiers stay busy. When the 2022 shooting season was complete, they sent their nominations to the MMA for the Persons of the Year Awards. Those awards were announced at the ceremony.
Sgt. Alison Weisz, International Rifle Team, was named the 2022 Shooter of the Year.
Spc. Samantha Simonton, Shotgun Team, was named the 2022 New Shooter of the Year.
John Feamster, Custom Firearms Shop, was named the 2022 Support Person of the Year.
Support Hall of Fame Inductee
After the Persons of the Year announcement, it was time to induct alumni into the USAMU Hall of Fame. Col. (retired) Stanley J. Parmentier was the first honoree and inducted into the USAMU Support Hall of Fame.
Parmentier commanded the USAMU and served as the U.S. Chief of Delegation for the International Military Sports Council (CISM) from 1978-1984. His influence and hard work helped establish women’s teams at CISM shooting events, develop the precursor of the current U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, and establish the need for the Infantry Sniper School.
This Support Hall of Fame inductee is also known to be the key leader who “strong-armed” the Corps of Engineers to “fast track” the construction of the Tommy Pool International Range. Though the U.S. Army Chief of Staff had provided one million dollars for the construction project, the Corps of Engineers were reluctant.
Parmentier said did not accept the reasons for their reluctance and pushed back against the Corps of Engineers commander, demanding the Army Chief of Staff’s wishes to be fulfilled.
I went to his office and said, “I wonder how it would look when I show up at the Chief of Staff’s office on Monday morning, and tell him, you don’t want to build the range that he has just allocated one million dollars to for the next CISM range.”
After a moment, Parmentier said the Corps of Engineers commander replied, “You know, maybe we can get it built.”
Hall of Fame Inductees
The next portion of the ceremony included the induction of three USAMU veterans into the Hall of Fame. The first inductee was Olympic Silver Medalist Maj. (retired) Michael E. Anti.
Anti, who earned his Distinguished International Shooter Badge before starting college, competed in 50m Three-Position Rifle and represented the United States and Army at four Olympics, two Pan American Games, three Championships of the Americas, and three World Shooting Championships, earning numerous medals and titles.
The four-time Olympian said he was honored by the Hall of Fame induction but could not take all the credit himself since the Home of Champions offered him amazing support. With that, he humbly thanked the crowd and offered the current Soldiers some advice.
“Understand that being assigned to the USAMU is a privilege afforded to only a few. Take full advantage of that time you have here to be the best you can be. Again, thank you all for this incredible honor.”
The next Hall of Fame inductee was Olympic Bronze Medalist Lt. Col. (retired) Wanda R. Jewell.
Jewell served on both active duty and Reserve status as an instructor/shooter in both 10m air rifle and 50m Three-Position Rifle, in which she won her Olympic medal. This Soldier competed in seven consecutive World Shooting Championships, three Pan American Games and one Championships of the Americas. Jewell, who also earned the Distinguished International Shooter Badge, holds the distinction of being the first woman in history to win two World Championship titles at the same competition when she won both the 10m Air Rifle and Three-Position Rifle Champion titles at the 1978 World Shooting Champion in Seoul.
Like Anti, Jewell said she attributes a lot of her success to the USAMU’s support of its Soldiers.
“I cannot thank you guys enough. For everyone who came before me, everyone who was here with me, and everyone who’s to come, thank you. It’s a great team to be on.”
The next Hall of Fame inductee was Col. (retired) Bruce A. Meredith. This USAMU alum served for 30 total years on both active and Reserve status as a shooter and coach.
The West Virginia native competed, and at times supported, in 40 nations, including five Olympics, ten World Shooting Championships, eight Pan American Games, six Championships of the Americas, eight World Crossbow Championships, and five Central American and Caribbean Games. Meredith was a teammate of some of the greatest of all time shooters, and with them, he won 65 national team championships and set 146 national records. Individually, he set 73 national records.
This prolific marksman also earned the Distinguished Rifle, Pistol and International Badges, as well as the President’s 100 Tab in both rifle and pistol.
Upon leaving active duty, Meredith continued to impact the shooting community by leading the U.S. Army Reserve International Team, which provided former USAMU shooters an opportunity to continue to excel after leaving active duty. In this capacity, he managed 84 Soldiers, many of whom became Hall of Fame inductees themselves. These Soldiers won a total of 105 medals for the United States in the Olympic Games, World Shooting Championships, Pan American Games, and the Championships of the Americas.
This Hall of Fame inductee said he competed in what is called the golden years for the U.S. rifle teams, when Lt. Col. Bill Pullum was the coach, and it was during that era, that the USAMU made great contributions, but was almost deactivated.
“You’re predecessors built and saved this unit for you. Commanders like Col. Parmentier saved it when it was destined for elimination—it almost wasn’t here. So, you are now here, living your dreams, thanks to the old timers.”
*** To watch the full ceremony, go to our YouTube page at https://youtu.be/y_TvdrJKz3g?si=5AP4yc9PAqog_xmL