• Published
  • 158th Fighter Wing

By Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel

JERICHO, Vt. − Vermont Airmen and Soldiers recently teamed-up against five Air and Army National Guard units for a three-day regional marksmanship competition. From June 21st through the 23rd, guard members from across six states squared off to determine which marksmen will advance to the national level later this year. 

Guardsmen from Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont participated in the three-day 2019 Region 1 National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council (MAC) competition at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site (CEATS) in Jericho, Vermont. 

This event entailed small arms disciplines on both the Beretta M-9 pistol and shooter’s choice of M-4, M-16A2, or M-16A4 rifle platforms, utilizing optics and iron sites, throughout a regimen of 10 unique team and individualized matches. Seasoned competitors and novice shooters put their trigger skills to task where every Soldier and Airmen drew arms as equals, gunning for the opportunity to compete on the national Winston P. Willson stage. 

The truly unique aspects of the state TAG (The Adjutant General) and MAC marksmanship matches is that any organizationally approved novice Airman, or Soldier, are encouraged to participate; seven Airmen of the 158th Fighter Wing stepped up to the 2019 MAC firing line. 

“I was a traditional (guardsman) for five years as a junior enlisted member, and I lived in Boston at the time. I could’ve spent my summers doing drill weekends on Cape Cod, but instead I decided to continue to come up to Vermont and a big reason for that is the marksmanship opportunities here. There were some individuals at the time, it was Senior Master Sgt. Renyolds and Staff Sgt. Jenks, they really opened up that door for me,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Wardwell, budget officer assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont Air National Guard. 

Vermont Soldiers stood apart from their regional peers, especially U.S. Army Sgt. Maxim Nickerson, Detachment 3, Delta Company (AVN SPT), who conquered five of the six individual pistol and rifle matches, who also placed first in “Individual Overall Aggregate.” Additionally, U.S. Air Force Capt. Christopher Clements, intelligence analyst assigned to the 158th Operations Group, placed third in three of the six individual pistol and rifle matches ranked and third in “Individual Overall Aggregate” as a novice. Sunday’s event consisted primarily of squad competition and again, Vermont National Guard teams placed first in all four categories. 

As a MAC requirement, both individual and team events require novice entries in order to be added to the competitive roster to add expanded interest to the program. 

“Vermont had 19 shooters out of the 73 total individuals that participated. I’m most proud of how we did in the team matches. We clenched first by a pretty wide margin and it was mostly the (Vermont) Army team who absolutely dominated everybody else,” said Clements. 

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Knight, The Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard, previously mentioned, “I am excited by the possibilities the Guard can offer young women and men. The guard is all about possibilities and potential.” Events such as these offer friendly competition, improved their skills and the opportunity to build connections − all while having a great time!