Olympic gold medalist Jamie Lynn Gray and three members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning recently spent more than an hour at the White House with President Barack Obama.
"It was a really good experience," Gray said Friday of her Sept. 14 visit in Washington. "I'm really glad I got to go."
Gray, the gold-medal winner in the women's 50 meter rifle three-position event in London, joined fellow Olympians Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft and wife, Sandra, Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker and Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski of Seale, Ala., for a meet and greet on the White House lawn. About 500 U.S. Olympians and Paralympians were at the gathering.
Gray said they stood on the bleachers before the president, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden came to greet them. "They took the time to shake everyone's hand and congratulate everyone that was there," she said.
The first lady gave everyone a hug, Gray said. She also was able to take a little tour of the White House.
Shooters from Fort Benning said it was an honor.
"It was a great experience to visit the White House," said Uptagrafft, who competed in men's prone rifle. "The president, first lady and VP all took the time to shake all the Olympians' hands. They were probably there 75 minutes or so. I did get to talk to a few other athletes, including some of the para athletes who were coaches with me at an Introduction to Sport camp for wounded warriors hosted by the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Ala., this past year."
Richmond said being reunited with the 2012 Olympic team brought back a rush of positive emotions from the games last month.
"Not only was I excited to visit the White House, but it was great to celebrate our team's success on home soil at our nation's capital," he said. "I'm extremely proud and honored to be a part of the greatest country and greatest team."
Parker remembers the speech from the president.
"We started off by walking around on the south lawn for a while then we were called up to the bleachers, by sport, to take a picture when the president came out," Parker said. "He came out with the vice president and first lady and made a very nice speech to a small crowd that had assembled."
Since Gray's championship performance, the assistant coach for the Columbus State University rifle team said she has been home to Lebanon, Pa., and was really busy for a while.
"I was busy every day with multiple appearances," she said. "When I came back here, I've been doing a lot with Columbus State and trying to do as much as possible."
She couldn't count all the appearances, but Gray is sure she's had at least 15 events.
Gray was at Brookstone School on Thursday talking to students.
"If I can touch the lives of younger people, that is what it's all about," she said.