MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The third and final shooting match in the Competition-In-Arms Program drew to a close during the CIAP Marine Corps Matches award ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 16.
This year presenting the awards was none other than the guest of honor Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, accompanied by Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, sergeant major of the Marine Corps.
“The most deadly weapon on the battlefield is a Marine and his rifle, and that does not change,” said Conway. “That is the importance of what we do here today.”
The three-stage CIAP competition began Feb. 12 and concluded April 16. It started at the intramural level, moved onto division matches, and finally ended with the Marine Corps matches.
“The top 10 percent of shooters in the Marine Corps are (at the Marine Corps matches),” said Gunnery Sgt. James Otto, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team and winner of the individual rifle portion of the match, naming him the best rifle shooter in the Marine Corps. “There’s such a high level of shooting skills here that really accentuates what the Marine Corps is all about.”
Each level of competition also contained its own challenges, including individual rifle and pistol marksmanship, team rifle and pistol marksmanship and various sub-competitions with different awards.
The top three placers for the Marine Corps match portion of the CIAP are as follow:
1 – Gunnery Sgt. James Otto, Marine Corps Shooting Team
2 – Sgt. Mark Windmassinger, Marine Corps Shooting Team
3 – Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mario Heikell, Marine Corps Shooting Team
1 – Staff Sgt. Troy Allenbaugh, Eastern Division Team
2 – Sgt. Curtis Powelson, Eastern Division Team
3 – Cpl. Patrick Saleh, Marine Corps Shooting Team
1 – Western Gold
Team Captain: Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Gehrki
Team Coach: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Allen Young
Sgt. Victor Armenta
Capt. Eric Antonelli
Lance Cpl. Narendra Sookdeo
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Sierra
Sgt. Robert Lynn
1st Lt. Trevor Hengehold
1 – Eastern Gold
Team Captain: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Roderick Palmer
Team Coach: Staff Sgt. James Hicks
Sgt. Curtis Powelson
Staff Sgt. Jorge Rodriguez
Staff Sgt. Troy Allenbaugh
Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Tweedell
Lauchheimer Trophy winner (based on individual rifle & pistol combined score)
1 – Cpl. Patrick Saleh, Marine Corps Shooting Team
2 – Staff Sgt. Troy Allenbaugh, Eastern Division Team
3 – Sgt. Mark Windmassinger, Marine Corps Shooting Team
“Our Marine Corps culture at its very basis is about marksmanship,” said Conway. “We are a rifleman culture and the Marines receiving these awards today are the exact extreme of that skill level. The uniform, the equipment, the rifle has changed, but the determination on the face of the Marine has not changed.”
With their new awards and prestigious titles, Conway encouraged those who participated to take their shooting skills back to their respective units and pass on their knowledge to other Marines. Besides being a rifleman, every Marine is also a mentor. Otto said the competitors are enthusiastic to do just that.
“All the knowledge and information we have is pushed down to younger Marines to make them better marksmen,” said Otto. “Not only will they become better marksmen, they will also have a greater drive to get out on the range and shoot. Once you shoot competition, it sets a spark and makes you hungry to compete against others and keep pushing like Marines are supposed to.”