FORT BENNING, Ga. — Hosting a successful world-class event requires the strength of an entire community, and the joint-effort between Fort Benning and the Chattahoochee Valley left a lasting impression on hundreds of people from around the world.
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit hosted the first-ever International Paralympic Committee Shooting World Cup held in the Western Hemisphere Oct. 4-9 here and while several deserving athletes left with medals around their neck, the teamwork between the military and civilian community was a true victory in itself.
“This event was a great opportunity to show the visitors from around the world what right looks like – what a winning combination of partnership between a military installation and the community looks like,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, commander, Maneuver Center of Excellence.
“The Chattahoochee Valley has a heart for the military, more so than any other place I have been and I am not just saying that. It’s evident by the outstanding community support we have from so many organizations. The relationships are mutual too, as our Soldiers get great enjoyment in rolling up their sleeves and volunteering in the community through programs like Partners in Education and supporting local organizations through the Combined Federal Campaign. It is a win-win for the military and our community outside the gate.”
A number of organizations reached out to the USAMU, lending their services for the week. Students from Harris County High School received permission to volunteer their time while navigating around their test week. Gameday for Heroes and Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment teamed together all week and The American Red Cross had volunteers on the grounds throughout the event.
“We feel that helping our military is a priority,” said Michelle Walton, Fort Benning manager for the Red Cross. “Helping out with events such as this are our ‘feel good’ moments.”
Volunteers served food to the athletes, assisted them in traveling from their hotels to the range, helped those in wheelchairs get around the range, and even helped them during their matches by handling their guns while they adjusted their shooting positions or providing a quick rubdown in between rounds.
“By volunteering at this event my daughters, 10 and 14, have been able to do things that many people have not,” said Jana Tarleton, director of Gameday for Heroes. “Not only have they been able to meet others from around the world, they have been able to meet individuals that have a disability do the same things that able bodied individuals can do and more.
“I have met friends that I know will be friends for life. I don’t think people understand everything that goes on at Fort Benning—it’s not just a military base with Soldiers, helicopters, tanks and guns—it is our community with events that have visitors from all over the world and experiences that no other community has to offer.”
By hosting two World Cups alone in 2011, more than a thousand people from the international community have stayed in local hotels, ate their meals at local restaurants, and purchased items from merchants to take back to their countries, pumping dollars into the local economy, Tarleton said. It leaves a positive impact on everyone.
“Having world-class events like the IPC Paralympic World Cup is one of many examples of the high-caliber of activities that happen at Fort Benning, in addition to the world-class training and leader development we do 365 days a year,” said Brown. “There is so much happening at Fort Benning that it is hard to not be a little excited and inspired by the spirit of enthusiasm you see. Having all of these people from around the world come to Fort Benning is a great way to showcase this installation and the impact it makes on the Army and the world.”
Photo: Michael Molinaro, USAMU PAO