By MELISSA HOUSE/MACH Public Affairs OfficeApril 16, 2010
The New Year brought a new addition to Martin Army Community Hospital with the fielding of the first USA Medical Department Activity Intramural Marksmanship Team.
"Why did we form a team - because we didn't have one," said SSG Micah Smith, the team captain and NCO in charge of the hospital's Mother and Baby Unit. But the team's mission is more than just competing for the MEDDAC in a variety of sanctioned shooting events - the team members are also committed to helping improve marksmanship and combat readiness of MEDDAC Soldiers.
Smith, a longtime shooter and "gun nut" was looking for opportunities to compete in a number of open invitational matches held throughout the year. In mid-January, he found four other Soldiers interested and willing to shoot. The team first competed in the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Pistol Championship Feb. 3-5 and in the All-Army Small Arms Championships held on post Feb. 20-27. Among the obstacles the team faced were coordinating their hospital work schedules and finding weapons to shoot with. Since the hospital has no armorer, no arms room and no weapons, MEDDAC Soldiers borrow weapons from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit to use for qualification.
And in that first competition, Smith was pleased with the results from his "3-gun team" shooting with the M9 pistol, M16 rifle, and M24 sniper rifle at distances from seven to 1,000 yards. The team, rounded out by MAJ Robert Davis, SSG Cory Price, SGT Christopher Grasham and SPC Matthew Jones, shot their way to third place in the MCoE Pistol Championship and a second place in the MCoE Rifle Championship.
"And we had some pretty high individual scores," said Smith, who took second place in the Commanding General's Cup at the Rifle Championship, but said the real stories of the team belonged to Grasham and Jones.
"Grasham is an experienced competition shooter who volunteered to assist as a shooting coach, and I put him on the team," he said. "He's one of my strongest rifle assets."
Smith said Jones, a new competitive shooter, established himself as the team's MVP with his performance in the All-Army matches. Jones earned top honors as the High Active Duty Soldier (E1-E4) first place in Match 5 (Rapid Fire) in the Regular Army Novice Class and second place in the Pistol Excellence in Competition match.
"The EIC - it's the badge that trumps all marksmanship badges," Smith said. "It's the highest you can get and the one guys like me have been chasing for years. Matthew Jones earned it this year, his first time out. I'm so impressed with him."
The MEDDAC "One Team" doesn't plan to rest on their initial successes.
"We're going to take the lessons we learned and take them to our (unit) ranges," Smith said. "We're going to apply them to shooters having trouble qualifying. We'll help with (preliminary marksmanship training), we'll mentor at the ranges and serve as shooting coaches. I know we can advance our own level of marksmanship and we anticipate we can advance the hospital's."
He'll also work on refining the team, recruiting two new shooters, with a plan of changing out two or three shooters each year.
"I'll take anybody, as long as they are willing to come out to all four ranges and train," Smith said.