Virginia Guard soldier to lead the Pistol Team

by Lt. Col. Chester C. Carter, II
Public Affairs Officer

FORT PICKETT, VA – A Virginia Army National Guard soldier has been selected to lead the National Guard International Pistol Team to the Olympic level. EffectiveMay 6, 2001, 1st Lt. Jeff Williams was appointed as the Officer-In-Charge of the team by Col Steve Kavanaugh, commander of the National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit in Little Rock, Arkansas. Williams is currently serving as the employee development specialist for the Human Resource Office at the Virginia National Guard State Headquarters.

“The National Guard should be represented in international competition," said Williams. "The US Shooting Team is largely composed of military shooters, and we should be able to capitalize on that and gain representation on the US team. My mission is to get National Guard shooters on the US Shooting Team and to the 2004 Olympic Games."

Williams, whose family lives in Martinsville, Virginia, is a former national champion shooter, having won the national intercollegiate title in 1992 at the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. He is also a United States Distinguished Pistol Shot, one of the youngest Army officers ever to receive the award. The Distinguished Pistol Shot badge is awarded for exceptional skill exhibited in competition with the .45 caliber or 9MM service pistol. “When I earned my badge,” explains Williams, “mine was badge number 1007; the badge has been in existence since the middle 1890s. There aren’t many around.” Williams has shot on two national champion teams and was invited to try-out for the US Shooting Team for the 1991 Pan American Games, the 1992 Olympic Games, and the 1993 Championships of the Americas.

As the Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the team, Williams is empowered to appoint the coach and the team members. “While the selection of team members is an ongoing process, I have selected a coach,” explains Williams. 1st Lt. Ed Suarez of the Minnesota Army National Guard will be the coach. “Ed and I have been good friends for nine years. There aren’t many world-class shooters out there, fewer are in the National Guard, and fewer still are able to teach their skill in the capacity of a coach, but Ed is one of those people who satisfies all three criteria,” explained Williams.

Suarez was a member of the 1984 and 1988 US Olympic teams and has medaled in various matches at the World Championships, Pan-American Games, Championships of the Americas, and World Cups. Suarez is a United States Distinguished International Shooter, a designation given to athletes that medal as individuals or members of teams at world competitions. Suarez was the 295th person to earn the badge, having earned it at the 1985 Championships of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia

Williams is assigned as the senior instructor at the Virginia Army National Guard Officer Candidate School. His assignment as the OIC of the All-Guard International Pistol Team is as an additional duty. Any National Guard member, Army or Air, can be selected for the team if they qualify.

“I love to train soldiers, especially in a critical skill like marksmanship,” explained Williams. “When one can combine a significant soldier skill like marksmanship with the potential impact of having an Olympic athlete, everyone is a winner. I look forward to working for the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in such a way that would bring great credit to the National Guard, from Virginia to the National Guard Bureau as a whole.”

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