Retiring sergeant honored at annual TAG Shoot competition

Story by: Sgt. Jessica Villwok
Posted: 8/21/2017

​Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac pins a Meritorious Service Medal on Master Sgt. John Snoozy during his 22nd - and final - TAG shoot event. Snoozy is set to retire later this year. (Nebraska National Guard photo by Spc. Lisa Crawford)

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 Trophy.

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?”