More than 125 soldiers and supporters of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning gathered at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center today to unveil three display cases filled with Olympic medals, weapons and other items collected over the last 56 years.
“This is impressive,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft, who qualified for the 2012 Olympics last year in men’s rifle prone. “I’m really enjoying this display.”
During a 1:30 p.m. ceremony, Uptagrafft watched the unveiling of the cases, including one that held his red, white and blue jacket worn during the 1996 Olympics. Other items included uniforms, a watch, tickets and Olympic torch.
Uptagrafft, who placed 30th in the Olympics, thought he would return to the competition sooner but learned it takes a lot of hard work.
“It’s a great privilege to represent the United States and the Army,” Uptagrafft said after the ceremony. “I was in the ‘96 Olympics so I’ve been through the experience. It’s unlike anything else. It’s been a long time coming back.”
Five other soldiers, all members of the Marksmanship Unit, have qualified for the London Games. They are Staff Sgt. Michael McPhail in the men’s rifle prone; Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond in double trap; 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Sgt. Glenn Eller in double trap and Sgt. Vincent Hancock, a 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist in men’s skeet.
Sgt. 1st Class Josh Olson has qualified for the 2012 Paralympic Games. Wounded while serving in Iraq, Olson is the first active-duty soldier ever to be nominated for the Paralympic Games.
The display will be at the museum for one year, said Lt. Col. Daniel Hodne, commander of the Marksmanship Unit.