Soldier Olympians from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit made the rounds in Washington D.C. Oct. 19-24, talking about their summer and helping inspire Soldiers and civilians alike.
Sgt. Vincent Hancock, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, 2012 Olympian Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond, and Sgt. 1st Class Josh Olson, the first active-duty Soldier to compete in the Paralympics, took photos, signed autographs and told their unique Army stories to the thousands who attended the Army Ten Miler Expo at the DC Armory Oct. 19-20.
“It is always great to connect with the public, tell them our stories and also talk to them about the great things we do here at the (USAMU),” said Hancock. “Everyone was so enthusiastic and the atmosphere was great. Even though we have been on the road a lot since London, it definitely rubbed off on us and it was a fun event to attend.”
In the midst of vendors selling running shoes, power bars, and cell phone arm bands, attendees were surprised to come across the Soldiers and get a small taste of their Olympic experiences.
“This is awesome,” said Lacy Davis of Roanoke, Va., moments after getting a photo with the gold medal around her neck. “This is my fifth ten-miler and while the expo is fun, I usually just leave with a goodie bag and some socks or something. This photo is going on my computer, my fridge-I will probably frame it too.”At the pre-race dinner, the Soldiers were recognized by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III. He praised their accomplishments in London and urged others to do the same.
“Until tonight I have never met an Olympian,” Chandler told the crowd. “These Soldiers are the best in the entire world at what they do and they are Soldiers. Think about that.”
The Soldiers rubbed elbows with a who’s who in the Army as members of the start line delegation Oct. 21 for the Army Ten-Miler, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno; Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III; Chandler; and Gen. (Ret.) Gordon Sullivan, former Army chief of staff. The delegation cheered on each wave of runners as they started running before heading to the finish line to applaud the winners.
“This was my first ten-miler,” Richmond said. “I definitely want to run it next year. The energy here was incredible. And it was such an honor to meet Gen. Sullivan and all of our leaders. Everyone we have talked to has been so supportive of what we do.”
The next two days Hancock and Olson participated in a few events at the Association of the United States Army annual convention. At the opening ceremony Oct. 22 attended by Secretary of the Army John. M. McHugh and Army leadership from around the world, Hancock and Olson were singled out in front of the distinguished crowd by Sullivan, the current AUSA president, earning a standing ovation.
The following day on the exhibit floor, both Soldiers gave a presentation titled “Representing the Nation-Training the Warfighter.” They told their Army and Olympic stories while discussing the USAMU’s mission of training the warfighter at home, their current mission in Afghanistan, the creation of a Paralympic section, and connecting America’s Army to America’s public through competitions and clinics around the country.
“Anytime we get a chance to tell our stories it can only be a positive,” Olson said. “Inspiring other wounded warriors is something I hold close to my heart so getting out there and telling my story is important. This experience has been great and the hard work it took to make the Paralympic team is still paying off even though the last shot was fired a few months ago. I can’t wait to go back.”
Image courtesy US Army Marksmanship Unit