From Service Medals to Gold Medals, U.S. Army Soldiers Shoot for the Win in Rio

The United States has won more Olympic medals in marksmanship than almost any other sport, and Army Soldiers make up more than a third of the team. This year, five Soldiers will be competing in the Rio Olympics.

2016 Olympic Qualified Soldiers

  • Sgt. 1st Class Glen Eller
    • Earned a 2016 Olympic Team nomination in double trap
    • Won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has competed in four previous Olympic Games
  • Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail
    • Earned a 2016 Olympic Team nomination in men’s 50-meter rifle prone
    • Competed in the 2012 London Olympics
  • Sgt. 1st Class Josh Richmond
    • Earned a 2016 Olympic Team nomination in double trap during the May 2016 Shotgun Olympic Trials in Tillar, Arkansas
    • Competed in the 2012 London Olympics
  • Spc. Daniel Lowe
    • Earned a 2016 Olympic Team nomination in Air Rifle by winning the 2016 Air Olympic Trials June 3-5 at Camp Perry, Ohio
    • This will be his first Olympics
  • Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson
    • Earned a 2016 Olympic Team nomination in 25-meter rapid fire pistol
    • Rio will be his third Olympic appearance

These Army-Olympians demonstrate the scope and scale of the U.S. Army, the unique opportunities available through Army service, and the breadth of missions the Army team conducts every day to make a difference.

“In 2012, at 24-years-old, I went from being an Olympian to being an Olympic gold medalist,” said Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller. “Those are two very distinct categories. To know you’ve achieved the pinnacle of the sport, being able to call yourself an Olympic gold medalist, and for other people to call you a gold medalist, it just takes time to sink in.”

“The Army takes raw talent and hones that into a trained competitor,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail. “Not only through the training, but also through the learning. Learning how to win. Competing is one thing, but winning is something else and learning how to win is important. I do believe it is a learned skill and I’ve learned that [in the Army].”

Eller, McPhail, Richmond and Lowe are assigned to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) at Fort Benning, Georgia. USAMU is the only unit in the Army that is focused solely on marksmanship. The unit also plays a role in enhancing Army recruiting and being at the forefront in small-arms research and development to increase the Army’s overall combat readiness.

USAMU has its own Custom Firearms Shop that produces top-quality, match-grade rifles, pistols, and shotguns, including the Olympic competition firearms, as well as much of the ammunition for the unit. The shop also develops and builds weapons that have been used by the Army for more than five decades.

Sgt 1st Class Sanderson is stationed at The World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colorado. This unit is made up of nationally ranked Soldier-athletes, who compete in the Pan American Games, World Championships, and Olympic and Paralympic competitions. The unit also supports U.S. Army Recruiting command, fellow active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops, and the Joint-Service Parathlete Program.

Soldiers from both units have a dual mission of publically representing the Army, as some of the country’s most elite athletes, but also training other Soldiers. Their training, successes and lessons learned are adapted to train all Army Soldiers and translates into an optimized readiness for the total force.

These Soldiers are continuously improving and always at the top of their game. Their motivation for winning and pride in how the Army has helped them advance their kills is apparent in competition and in the field.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply