SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 10, 2011) -- The Army Marksmanship Unit hit a bullseye with educators and business leaders from around the United States Jan. 6-7, at the San Antonio Gun Club.
The world-class competitive-shooting Soldiers provided shotgun instruction, performed a trick-shooting demonstration, and hosted a shooting competition for dozens of the 87 distinguished guests of U.S. Army Accessions Command here for the Army's All-American Bowl game, Jan. 8.
"As I heard some of the people say during introductions this morning, a lot of people don't realize the Army even has a shooting team," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Holguin, a double trap shooter who was the 2009 World Championships silver medalist and 2008 Olympian. "To be able to get to know us on a personal basis - a lot of the public's exposure to the military is on television - is a good way to meet them face-to-face and get to know them on a more personal level."
Olympic gold medalists Sgt. Glenn Eller and Sgt. Vincent Hancock gave the guests hands-on instruction, along with world champion Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond and Sgt. Sherri Gallagher, the Army Soldier of the year.
"You see their eyes light up and their faces light up when the two Olympic gold medalists are introduced," Holguin said. "They're like, 'Oh, wow,' because that's something that they can relate to.
"Everyone knows what the Olympics are, and not everyone has a chance to meet an Olympic gold medalist. It's special for a lot of them. Some of the ladies were going around getting autographs from all of us. That was pretty neat."
Jacquinita Rose, a dean of academic affairs at Pearce College in Los Angeles, was one of those autograph seekers.
"In the media, when they talk about the Army shooting this and shooting that, they don't show you the other side of it," said Rose, who has two sons in the Navy. "The media only gives you that one biased perspective. Unfortunately, what people tend to think of are assault weapons, those big barrels that shoot like 50 things, and snipers, but this is fantastic to be able to see another side of the Army that is not exposed to the masses. I really enjoyed myself."
Rose was one of the 87 Accessions Command guests to network and learn more about the Army during the week of the All-American Bowl, the Army's annual East vs. West all-star football game for high school seniors.
"My primary purpose for this week is to come and discover wonderful new and exciting opportunities with the Army," Rose said. "My family was military and my sons are in the military, so I'm familiar with the Army and some of their educational opportunities, but this was a great week to learn more."
Mark Mayberry, president of ExamExperts USA of Canton, Mich., says his company, like the Army, "inspires students to greatness."
"I'm here to learn about the educational options that the Army offers to students who may want to look at military service as an option and what educational opportunities they can take advantage of if they choose to go into the military," he said. "If students want to pursue military service, we want to help them achieve those objectives."
Mayberry also networked with educators to gain knowledge to share with his students, 80 percent of whom are in high school.
"My father was a war veteran and my brother served in the Army Reserve so I've always looked at the military as an option," he said. "I believe that the Army is growing in what it offers to citizens, so I'm here to find out more about that."
A former semi-pro baseball player, Mayberry had never shot a shotgun before.
"Being an athlete, it requires hand-eye coordination, so I understand what it takes," he said. "To have an opportunity to meet them and see just how excellent they are at their craft - being Olympic and World champions - I am really impressed by their humility. They are the guys you want on your side."
Mayberry appreciated the military for making the Army All-American Bowl more than just a football game.
"It helps us see the role that the Army plays not only in the defense of the country but also in everyday activities of life," he said. "It's really good to see it up close and personal."
Patrick Finn of Cisco Systems U.S. Federal Organization in Herndon, Va., knows rifles but engaged different targets with the AMU in San Antonio.
"I've been on a couple pheasant hunts but nothing big," he said. "This was excellent. It gives you a lot of pride to see young men and women who are national champions who are part of our military and part of our Army.
"I'm totally blown away. I was very surprised, but if you think about it, it does make a lot of sense that our young men and women are participating in the Army as marksmen on the Olympic and World Championship level."
The military has taught him a great deal in his business dealings with them.
"My customer is the Army," Finn said. "Not only do we work with them on communications from a technology perspective, we actually partner with them on the recruiting front. We've been involved with the Partnership for Youth Success program, where we are a corporate sponsor, and in that way we can actually educate the recruiting youth about potential opportunities in the technology field with Cisco Systems."
Hunter Crandall, a former Soldier who works with Finn for Cisco, won the shotgun shooting contest among the guests.
"As Lt. Gen. (Ben) Freakley (commander of Accessions Command) said in his opening remarks, I think we took it for granted for many years and decades that there were so many people in our society who had the experience in Korea and World War II and even Vietnam, but we've gotten to the point now where kids aren't exposed to those adult role models in their community who have that background," Crandall said. "So I think it's more important than ever to get people energized about going back into their community and educating and informing the young kids, that Army service is a great option for them."
Finn said the entire week of events was one big eye-opener.
"Just pride in what our men and women do," he explained. "I'll definitely be an advocate for what the Army is all about. They are involved in peacekeeping efforts and diplomacy and marksmanship and sportsmanship, and representing the United States at a world level and that's important for our country to understand.
"If you meet somebody from the Army and you don't walk away impressed, something is wrong with you."