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It's Time for the Summer Games of the XXX Olympiad      Olympic Logo

Every four years people from all over the world tune in to the excitement of the Summer Olympics. As we all know, this year the games of the XXX Olympiad are being hosted in London and the US will be sending approximately 525 athletes in 25 sports. There are few things as representative of pride in America as competing for your country in the Olympics. One thing that is even more impressive is being a member of both the armed services AND being an Olympian.

This year, the United States will be represented by several individuals who not only serve their country but also find the dedication to become top in their chosen sport. For the first time in twenty years, an active duty Marine has been selected to compete in boxing at the Olympics. In an interview with the Camp Lejeune Globe, Jamel Herring said “the dream is the Olympics and the time is now.” Herring is captain of Team USA Boxing and a member of the All-Marine Boxing Team, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Information Systems Technician 1st Class Sandra UptagrafftAnother Olympian, Information Systems Technician 1st Class Sandra Uptagrafft, is a reservist from the Navy Operational Support Center in Columbus, Georgia. She won the USA Shooting National Championship in the women's 25m pistol trials on June 5 earning a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic shooting team. To demonstrate how competitive this sport is, out of 2100 points possible, Uptagrafft finished less than three points above the next competitor.  For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=67671.

The U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) will send its strongest contingent of athletes and coaches to the 2012 Olympic Games in London since the program's inception in 1997. WCAP provides soldier-athletes the support and training needed to successfully compete in Olympic sports on the national and international levels.

According to WCAP’s website, www.thearmywcap.com , the soldier-athletes serve as ambassadors for the Army by promoting it to the world and assisting with recruiting and retention efforts. 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.

WCAP wrestling head coach Shon Lewis, a retired staff sergeant who has led the Army to 11 national team titles in Greco-Roman wrestling, will lead three of his wrestlers to London as an assistant coach for Team USA. See www.thearmywcap.com “Team USA Loaded with Soldiers.”

One of the soldiers is two-time Olympian SFC Dremiel Byers. Byers, 37, of Kings Mountain, N.C., will wrestle in the 120-kilogram/264.5-pound Greco-Roman division. A world champion in 2002, Byers, a 10-time national champion, is the only U.S. wrestler who has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the world championships.

SPC Justin Lester is a strong medal contender in the 66-kilogram/145.5 pound Greco-Roman division. Lester, 28, who is a native of Akron, Ohio, heads to England as USA Wrestling's reigning Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year. "I've had two bronze medals, but I need an Olympic gold medal," he said.

SPC Justin Lester

SPC Justin Lester takes down an opponent in an earlier competition

Two-time Olympian SGT Spenser Mango will compete in the 55-kilogram/121-pound Greco-Roman class. A four-time national champion, Mango is eager to return to the Olympics.

Two shooters going to London are also part of the WCAP program, SFC Keith Sanderson and SFC Daryl Szarenski. Szarenski is a member of both the free pistol and air pistol teams. Sanderson shoots for the gold in the 25M rapid fire pistol event.

These athletes will be joined by other WCAP coaches, including MAJ David Johnson who will serve as the U.S. Olympic head rifle coach, SSG Charles Leverette, as assistant boxing coach and SSG Joe Guzman will act as a trainer and corner man for the U.S. Olympic boxing team.

Following on the heels of famous American General George S. Patton, who competed for the US in the 1912 Olympics, is SPC Dennis Bowsher who will compete in the modern pentathlon, a five-sport event that includes fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, cross country and laser pistol shooting all in the same day.

In track and field, returning Olympian John Nunn will compete in an event the U.S. has not won a medal in since 1972. The 50-kilometer race walk is widely considered the most grueling event in the Olympics, and has been part of the Olympic program since 1904. Nunn competed in the 20-kilometer race walk in 2004.

Seven soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit will be heading to London. SGT Glenn Eller III will be going to his fourth Olympics along with his teammate SSG Josh Richmond. Richmond was one of the first marksmen to qualify for the Olympics. The YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4KE8dVBhVo gives great insight into the men who make up the Olympic team from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit from Fort Benning, Georgia. Eller won the gold in double trap in Beijing and “realizes that he’s flirting with rare air. Nobody has struck gold twice. The opportunity to make history awaits Eller in London.”  See http://www.usaac.army.mil/amu/news/2012/eller.asp.   SSG Michael McPhail qualified for his first Olympics and will be part of the Men’s Rifle Prone team. He will be joined by his teammate SFC Eric Uptagrafft whose wife is featured earlier in this article.  SGT Vincent Hancock hopes to win a second gold after crushing skeet competitors at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Shotgun Team Trials in May.  The sixth position on the team was won by SFC Jason Parker who won the Men’s Three-Position Rifle match, securing his fourth trip to the Olympic Games. The seventh man from the USAMU to travel to London is SFC Josh Olson who will be shooting in the Paralympics. The Bugler will feature several service personnel who will participate in the Paralympics later in the summer. See http://www.usaac.army.mil/amu/news/news.asp for articles on these soldier/athletes.

Air Force Captain Weston Air Force Captain Weston "Seth" Kelsey will be part of his third Olympics as a member of the U.S. Fencing Team in Epee.

The Olympics is not just about the athletes. Several coaches also have service backgrounds. As you watch the Olympics, cheer on your fellow Americans and the men and women who have also served our country.

Every effort has been made to include every service personnel that will be competing in the London Olympics. However, given the timing of the trials, and the number of athletes, it is possible that we may have missed someone. If you know of someone we have missed,  please email their names to bugler@glendale.com prior to July 8th so that they can be recognized in the next Bugler.

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