By Mr. Michael Molinaro (TRADOC)June 21, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. - The Army prevailed once again as Soldiers with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit dominated the competition at the 51st Interservice Pistol championship matches held here June 14-18.
Staff Sgt. Robert Park II, USAMU, won the overall individual championship for the first time in one of the closest competitions in the history of the 51-year-old event. Park tallied a score of 3515-182x, beating the USAMU's Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson, the two-time defending champion, by one point and fellow USAMU Soldier Staff Sgt. Patrick Franks by two points. Park was also a member of the first-place winning team U.S. Army Blue, giving the Army and the USAMU a clean sweep.
"This is a big deal for me," the champion remarked. "This is one of the ones I really wanted to win. I've come in second twice and third a few times and it's a lot of prestige for a military guy to be the best shooter there is in the military. It gives me something to stand on when I teach my marksmanship to Soldiers."
Park is one of the USAMU's top marksmanship instructors and is slated to deploy this fall to Afghanistan as part of a cross-functional team of USAMU Soldiers training Afghan National Army Soldiers on the fundamentals of marksmanship. He feels that competitions like these are critical to the overall mission of the USAMU and the military as a whole.
"This match is all about learning how to better instruct and better put these skills in Soldiers hands, especially with the war," Park said. "It's very important. We're one force. We're the United States military and its one fight. We compete and we want (the Army) to win but when it comes down to it we're all trying to do one thing and pass these skills to combat Soldiers."
More than 100 marksmen representing all services competed in the annual event, which promotes a friendly yet fierce competition that also acts as the ultimate training event. It allows servicemembers to share techniques, develop new ideas and enhance the overall combat readiness of the military.
Shooters compete with four different calibers of pistol, shooting one gun a day in individual and team matches. It makes it important that the competitors are proficient in a broad array of pistols and enables the competition to crown the best of the best.
"As we are part of a joint force that has been engaged in combat operations for the past nearly 9 years, and a joint force that will remain engaged in combat operations for the foreseeable future, the training provided to all of our fellow Servicemembers will help shape the course of future battles and propel our nation to future victories," said Lt. Col. Daniel Hodne, commander, USAMU.
Besides winning the overall championship, Park also won seven other individual titles, including the 2700 aggregate and .22-caliber individual aggregate championship. USAMU Soldiers Staff Sgt. Timothy Barber (centerfire), Franks (.45-cal) and Staff Sgt. Lyman Grover (service pistol) won the other individual aggregate titles. The USAMU's Sgt. Lawrence Cleveland won the Excellence-in-Competition match.
The high shooters from each service were recognized as champions and won a pistol for their accomplishment. Park won for the Army. The other winners were: Marine Cpl. Luis Esparza; Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matt Bartel; Airmen Col. Mark Hays; and high guardsman/reservist went to Army Reservist Master Sgt. Robert Mango.
Members of the first-place winning U.S. Army Blue team were Park, Grover, Henderson, Cleveland, Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Wilson and Staff Sgt. Jason Sargent. U.S. Army Grey took second place and U.S. Army Reserve Team Black earned third place. The South Carolina National Guard team won the post/station championship for smaller teams.
Called the "Home of Champions" and putting their reputation on the line time after time against the best the nation and the world has to offer, the Soldiers of the USAMU continue to excel and hone their talents that they ultimately pass off to Soldiers headed to harms' way.
"We won the team championship and we won all of the individual matches that could be won here at the Interservice Pistol matches," Park concluded. "The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit service pistol team is the best in the nation. I think we proved that here."