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U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's Olympics Connection
by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michelle Lunato
June 19, 2024

Shooting sports debuted at the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece in front of an audience of 40,000 spectators.

The sport, which was one of the original nine disciplines at those first modern Games, included five events: 200m Military Rifle, 300m Three-Position Rifle, 25m Military Pistol, 25m Rapid Fire Pistol and 30m Free Pistol.

And with the exception of the 1904 and 1928 Olympics, shooting sports have been a vital part of every Summer Olympics since.

Today, the number of events has increased to 15: Men’s and Women’s Olympic Trap, Men’s and Women’s Skeet, Men’s and Women’s 10m Air Rifle, Men’s and Women’s 50m Three-Position Rifle (or Smallbore), Men’s and Women’s 10m Air Pistol, Women’s 25m Pistol, Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, Mixed 10m Air Rifle Team, Mixed 10m Air Pistol Team and Mixed Skeet Team.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit was established in 1956 by President Eisenhower with the goal of increasing the Nation’s marksmanship skills in competition. Since then, Soldiers of the unit have earned spots on every U.S. Olympic Shooting Team.

The first official Olympic medal for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit technically predates the unit and was won by Huelet “Joe” Benner in the Slow Fire Free Pistol event at the 1952 Games in Helsinki, Finland. Benner earned his spot on Team USA when he was in the unit that was renamed the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit just four years later.

By the 1964 Tokyo, Japan Games, the USAMU Soldiers were well established and sent a powerhouse of marksmen to compete, bringing home six individual Olympic Medals.

William Morris claimed the Bronze Medal in Olympic Trap while Martin Gunnarsson and Tommy Pool secured their own Bronze Medals in Three-Position Free Rifle and Prone Smallbore Rifle, respectively. Lones Wigger edged out Pool for the Silver Medal in Prone Smallbore Rifle. And Wigger and Gary Anderson both won Gold Medals in Three-Position Smallbore Rifle and Three-Position Free Rifle, respectively.

In 1968, Captain Jack Writer won the Silver Medal in Three-Position Smallbore Rifle at the Mexico City Olympic Games. Then four years later, he won the Gold in that same event at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Today, this Olympian is a vital part of the USAMU Custom Firearms Shop.

The first woman to win an Olympic shooting medal was a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Major Margret Murdock won the Silver Medal at the 1976 Three-Position Smallbore Rifle event in Montreal, Canada. This medal was also unique in the fact that there were no separate events for women at the time. That meant this Soldier had to compete against the men. Murdock had no problem doing that. In fact, she actually tied the Gold Medalist, Major Lanny Bassham who as also part of the U.S. Marksmanship Unit.

By the 1984 Olympics, women were given their own shooting sports events. And again, members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit stood out. Capt. Wanda Jewell secured the Bronze Medal in Three-Position Smallbore Rifle. Meanwhile, Staff Sgt. Dan Carlisle claimed the Bronze Medal in Olympic Trap. Then adding two Gold Medals to the Team USA count were Staff Sgt. Matt Dryke and Capt. Edward Etzel in the Skeet and Smallbore Prone Rifle events, respectively.

As the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit earned more Olympic Medals over the years, the unit became known as the Home of Champions.

The last four Olympic Medals won by USAMU Soldiers have been Gold.

At the 2008 Beijing, China Olympics Sergeants Glenn Eller and Vincent Hancock stood at the top of the podium in Men’s Double Trap and Men’s Skeet.

Hancock then went on to claim his second Gold Medal at the 2012 Games in London, England.

Then at the most recent Summer Games in 2020, 1st Lt. Amber English brought home the Gold in Women’s Skeet, making the USAMU Olympic medal count 26.

Four USAMU Soldiers have earned spots on Team USA and will represent the Nation at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

June 10, 2024 - Four U.S. Army soldiers ... (L-R) Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier, Sgt. Sagen Maddalena, Sgt. Ivan Roe, and Staff Sgt. Will Hinton ... have qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France. They are marksmanship instructors/competitive shooters for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit stationed at Fort Moore, Georgia. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Michelle Lunato.)
June 10, 2024 - Four U.S. Army soldiers ... (L-R) Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier, Sgt. Sagen Maddalena, Sgt. Ivan Roe, and Staff Sgt. Will Hinton ... have qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France. They are marksmanship instructors/competitive shooters for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit stationed at Fort Moore, Georgia. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Michelle Lunato.)

Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier, a Pattonsburg, Missouri native, will compete in Women’s Olympic Trap. This will be her first Olympics.

Sgt. Sagen Maddalena, a Groveland, California native will compete in both the Women’s 10m Air Rifle and 50m Three-Position Rifle (or Smallbore) events. This will be the first Olympic Games for Maddalena in the 10m Air Rifle event, but the second in the 50m Three-Position Rifle (or Smallbore) event. She competed at the Tokyo Games, where she placed 5th in the Smallbore Finals.

Sgt. Ivan Roe, a Manhattan, Montana native will compete in at his first Olympic Games in both the Men’s 10m Air Rifle and 50m Three-Position Rifle (or Smallbore) events.

Staff Sgt. Will Hinton, a Dacula, Georgia native, will represent the Nation in Men’s Olympic Trap. This will be his first Olympics.

After the Olympic Games, the Paralympics will begin and U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s Staff Sergeant Kevin Nguyen, a Westminster, California native, will be there to compete in the R6 Prone Rifle event.

All of them ... continuing the rich history of Soldier-Olympians from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit!

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