Defense Update: Next Mission for Some of Our Military: ‘Win the Olympics’ (Updated)
All the members of the Military USA Olympic Team have now been named.
The Team will consist of 20 athletes and coaches.
The seven Army WCAP members are named in the original article below and so are the four coaches and assistant coaches.
Four-time Olympian Basheer Abdullah, a retired staff sergeant, is in addition to the four coaches and will serve as Team USA’s head boxing coach in London.
Rounding out the Army Team are six sharpshooters from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga. They are, according to the Stars and Stripes:
Vincent Hancock, a skeet shooter, and Glenn Eller and Joshua Richmoned, both double-trap shooters, man the shotguns for the U.S. team. Jason Parker fires three-position rifle, and Michael McPhail and Eric Uptagrafft will try their hands in prone-position rifle.
Capt. Weston “Seth” Kelsey, a Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.-based fencer who will wield the epee in London, will represent the Air Force.
Petty Officer First Class Sandra Uptagrafft, married to prone rifle event competitor Eric Uptagrafft, will represent the Navy in the free and air pistol competition.
Finally, the Marine Corps will be proudly represented by 64-kilogram champion Jamel Herring, a Marine from Camp Lejeune, N.C.
We wish these service members and veterans well in their present mission: “Win the Olympics.”
With 10 days to go before the 2012 London Olympic Games, our American athletes are busy packing their bags for the trip of their lifetime — the opportunity of a lifetime.
This is also the case for our military athletes who will be vying for Olympic Gold.
Our readers might be surprised at “this side” of our military, but our service members have been participating in the Olympics since 1896 as athletes and as coaches in both the summer and winter games and, according to the American Press Service, since 1948, more than 600 soldiers have represented the United States as Olympic athletes and coaches. They have collected more than 140 medals in a variety of sports, including boxing, wrestling, rowing, shooting, bobsled and track and field.
In fact, this year the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) will send what it describes as its strongest contingent of athletes and coaches ever to the Olympic Games in London. Their mission this time, “Win the Olympics.”
These soldiers will compete alongside other Americans at the London Olympics. They will wear the Team USA gear, and when they win, they will step up to the podium to hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” play. “But these Soldier-athletes continually represent the Army on and off the field — through their discipline and determination.”
(WCAP, with headquarters at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs, Colo., provides soldier-athletes the support and training needed to successfully compete in Olympic sports in the summer and winter Olympics and also in the Pan American Games, world championships and Conseil International du Sport Militaire’s Military World Games.)
Among the Army Olympians will be two-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers, 37, of Kings Mountain, N.C. Byers, a Greco-Roman wrestler who will represent the U.S. in the 120-kilogram (264.5-pound) class in London. Byers is the only U.S. wrestler who has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the world championships.
U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program then-Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers wrestles to a 1-1, 2-0 victory over Oleksandr Chernetskyi of Ukraine in their opening match of the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling 120-kilogram tournament Aug. 14, 2008, in Beijing.
Also Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski, an air pistol Olympian, who will return to the Olympics for the fourth time in the shooting event. Previously, Szarenski has gone to the Olympics with the Army Marksmanship Unit, which also sends Soldiers to the Olympics. Szarenski started shooting in the sixth grade and started competing in the eighth grade. He earned a full scholarship to Tennessee Tech Rifle University after winning state and national competitions.
U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program pistol shooter Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski practices at Fort Benning, Ga. He will compete in his fourth Olympics this year in London in the air pistol event.
Other Army Olympians:
Staff Sgt. John Nunn, a dental hygienist, will compete in the 50-kilometer race-walk event in the Olympics, an event he has only competed in three times. He won the Olympic trials for the 50-kilometer racewalk and has competed in the 20-kilometer racewalk in the 2004 Olympics. He puts in 100 miles a week in training.
Two-time Olympian Staff Sgt. Keith Sanderson, 37, of San Antonio and a former Marine, will compete in the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event. He set an Olympic record during the qualification rounds in Beijing but left China without a medal.
Spc. Dennis Bowsher, 29, of Dallas, will compete in modern pentathlon, a five-sport event that includes fencing, and swimming, equestrian show jumping, cross country and laser pistol shooting all in the same day.
Two-time Olympian Sgt. Spenser Mango, 25, of St. Louis, will compete in the 55-kilogram/121-pound Greco-Roman class.
Spc. Justin Lester is a strong medal contender in the 66-kilogram/145.5 pound Greco-Roman division.
Coaching and assisting our athletes will be: WCAP wrestling head coach Shon Lewis, four-time Olympian Maj. David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Charles Leverette, Staff Sgt. Joe Guzman and four-time Olympian Basheer Abdullah.
Military from other services will also be vying for Olympic Gold. For example, Air Force Capt. Weston Kelsey who will be a third-time Olympian as part of the U.S. Men’s Epee Team for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
We will take a look at other brave military athletes, our wounded warriors, who will be participating in the London Paralympic Games in late August.
One of them will be swimming for gold, although according to the Baltimore Sun, when he swims, he can’t see the water, “He can’t see his opposition, he can’t see the clock and, most importantly, he can’t see the wall.”
We are talking about 28-year-old Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder who lost his vision after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan last September while serving as a bomb disposal technician.
After competing in the Warrior Games and winning a total of seven gold medals, four in swimming and three in track, and after winning all five swimming events at the U.S. Paralympic swimming trials, Snyder is now London-bound representing the United States in the London Paralympic Games.
Photos: U.S. Army
Additional Source: American Forces Press Service