This year’s Adjutant General Marksmanship Sustainment
Exercise (AG-MSX), more commonly called the TAG Shoot, was bittersweet for
Master Sgt. John Snoozy. Set to retire later this year, it marked his final
competition of his career.
Snoozy has supported 22 consecutive marksmanship exercises,
mentoring and training almost 6,000 Soldiers along the way. His efforts have
made the TAG Shoot the most significant marksmanship event for Nebraska
National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.
This year’s event brought 117 shooters together from across Nebraska
to compete in eight live-fire exercises.
Both M16 rifles and M9 pistols were fired in individual and team competitions
as countless rounds were fired down range. Capt. Joshua Metcalf, the event’s
officer-in-charge, said competitors had more trigger time this weekend than
they would in 3-5 years of annual weapons qualification.
Sgt. Maxwell Maguire from Kearney’s Company B, 734th Brigade
Support Battalion, swept the individual event competition, taking home top
honors in the State Command Sergeant Major Match, Individual Service Rifle
Championship and the Individual Service Pistol Championship.
Maguire was also awarded the Gary Anderson Trophy. The
prestigious award is named after Gary Anderson, a Nebraska National Guard
shooter who competed in three Olympic Games and became the director of the
Civilian Marksmanship Program. Maguire’s name will be engraved on the trophy
and given to his unit to display.
“The best thing about this though is just the camaraderie
you build here,” Maguire said. “You get to come out, talk to people from
different units, see how they are doing marksmanship training. (I get to) tell them what I know, see what they know, and
just build better shooters.”
This then allows the competitors to go back to units, and
train them up “and come back and do great things,” Maguire added.
Taking top honors in the team competition was TCC Gold from Camp Ashland’s 1-209th Regiment
(Regional Training Institute) Training Center Command consisting of Sgt. 1st
Class Shawn Murphy, Staff Sgt. Brandon Pedersen, Staff Sgt. Joshua Kushen and
Sgt. Caleb Pongo. Each of the shooters left with medals in the Team Assault Plate
Match, Service Rifle Team Championship, General John J. Pershing Team Rifle
Match, Combat Pistol Team Championship and the Adjutant General Combat Team
Murphy, TCC Gold’s team leader, said building a championship
marksmanship team takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
“I do a lot of shooting on my own,” Murphy said. “Obviously,
the Army only lets you shoot once a year for qualification, so a lot of this
stuff is done on our own. We purchase our own weapons that are like the
military and practice that way.”
Some shooters have participated in the competition multiple
times. For others, like Spc. Laura Nelms, from the Mead Training Site-based
Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 134th Cavalry Squadron, this was their first
time competing. A native of Benkelman, Nebraska, Nelms said the Team Assault
Plate Match was her favorite part of the competition.
“You get to interact more,” Nelms said. “You get to move. It
wasn’t the same thing you always do.”
On the final day of the competition, Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac,
Nebraska adjutant general, presented the hard-earned awards to the top shooters.
Perhaps the most meaningful award, however, was presented to Snoozy for all of the
hard work and dedication he contributed to making the event so successful. For
his achievements, Snoozy was presented the Meritorious Service Medal.
“After 9/11 and after Desert Storm – most of you weren’t
around then – our training resources went way down,” Lt. Col. Gordon Bjorman,
Nebraska Army National Guard state training and operations officer, told the
assembled shooters. “This event became the premiere training event we had for
individual weapons qualification in the state, and it’s the only weapons
qualification program that did advanced marksmanship training. And when we look
at what that meant after 9/11 for those first maneuver units that went out to
Iraq, went to Afghanistan…They all learned marksmanship here, and a lot of that
had to do with Sergeant Snoozy’s efforts.”
“And his legacy, is not, can only be judged by the almighty
because when you teach individual marksmanship, you’re not teaching people ‘Hey
we’re out here to take lives’. Where we’re judged is the unknown,” Bjorman said.
“Those lives that we saved because someone on maneuver patrol was able to
defend themselves and come home.”
After Snoozy’s legacy was recounted for all the participants,
Bohac left his audience with one thought:
“Who’s going to be next?” Bohac asked. “Who is going to be
the next Sergeant Snoozy?”