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    New York Soldiers supports Ohio Guard and shooting's 'National Matches'

    New York Soldier volunteers to support national matches in Ohio

    Courtesy Photo | Spc. Michael Valasquez, of the 1108th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, New York...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Harley Jelis 

    New York National Guard

    CAMP PERRY, Ohio -- New York Army National Guard Spc. Michael Valasquez doesn’t understand the long-held military tradition to “never volunteer for anything.” Valesquez turned that phrase on its head when he became the first out-of-state volunteer to support the Ohio National Guard’s mission at the annual National Rifle & Pistol Championships here this summer.

    “I love to work, and I want to experience as much as the military can give me,” said Valasquez, who is currently serving with the 1108th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, based in Scotia, N.Y.

    The 32-year-old chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist from Manhattan sought the opportunity to be the first New York National Guardsman to assist with the National Matches.

    The National Matches are referred to as the country’s “World Series of the Shooting Sports.” The matches are a rifle and handgun shooting competition drawing in thousands of civilian and military marksmen and women over five weeks of matches in July and August for a variety of events.

    When he learned of the matches from past military training with Ohio Guardsmen, Valasquez was quick to volunteer, he said.

    “I just like to donate my time and abilities to helping other units,” said Valasquez. “I called up [Lt. Finlayson] and asked him if I could participate.”

    Lt. Neil Finlayson with the Ohio Army National Guard, helped organize and plan this year’s event. In 2008, the Ohio Army National Guard took over responsibility of the 112-year-old event from the Army Reserve, according to Finlayson. Since then, the event has only been staffed by Ohio Guardsmen - but that didn't deter Valasquez.

    “When I arrived, I discovered I was the first one from another state to support the national matches,” said Velasquez. He was quickly put to work doing various jobs, eventually settling in with the military police guarding the event.

    He was granted one special perk in recognition of being the first Guardsman from another state to support Ohio's mission: firing the historic 75mm M1897 cannon that signaled the start of the match.

    “It was an honor just to fire their cannons,” said Valasquez.
    He has already asked to come back next year, and the organizers quickly agreed. With much of the setup starting in the spring they could always use more volunteers, said Finlayson.

    Master Sgt. Donald Messersmith, the National Matches Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, said that Valasquez seamlessly integrated with volunteers from the Ohio National Guard.

    “I would definitely recommend this to Soldiers who are willing to go this far to do the work that’s needed,” said Valasquez. “It’s a great opportunity, especially for those who haven’t been able to train out of the state.

    Starting in 1903, the National Matches have been held annually and include small arms schools as well as a series of pistol and rifle championships and events. The Civilian Marksmanship Program conducts the National Matches through a partnership that includes the Ohio Army National Guard and the National Rifle Association.

    For more information on the National Matches and the Civilian Marksmanship, and how to compete in 2016, visit thecmp.org/cmp-national-matches/



    Date Taken: 08.15.2015
    Date Posted: 08.17.2015 15:57
    Story ID: 173424
    Location: CAMP PERRY, OH, US 

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