August 10, 2012
Soldiers brief British youth near Windsor Castle
Editor's Note: With the London Olympic Games wrapping up, the soldiers of the Army Marksmanship Unit have taken advantages of outreach opportunities made possible by their being in London. The Army Marksmanship Unit's Michael Molinaro has this story -and our thanks for all his work during the London Games.
LONDON - Seizing the opportunity to take a rest from the madness of the Olympic games, Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit took time out to showcase the Army to the locals of Windsor, England, August 8.
As part of an outreach program established by the U.S. Embassy in London, the Soldiers traveled to the ancient town to receive a history lesson on British royalty while talking to kids about their Olympic and military experience.
The Soldiers first toured Windsor Castle, the official residence of the queen of England and the largest occupied castle in the world. A royal home and fortress for more than 900 years, the castle remains a working palace today. The Queen uses the castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as a royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties. Windsor Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in the decade after the Norman conquest of 1066.
"Walking through the halls was eye-opening," Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond said. "You could feel the history dripping off the walls. There were so many swords, coats of armor, paintings - everything you think about when you go back to medieval times and the history of monarchs and royalty. I could have spent a few days in there soaking it all in"
"So many people don't get to go to the Olympics," said Alison Bauerlein, who works with the U.S. Embassy in London. "So we started this outreach program to bring Olympians to the people and allow them to talk about everything they have experienced with the Olympics and also allow the kids to ask them anything they want."
After a brief introduction, the Soldiers talked about what it's like to live in the Olympic village, how much dedicatication it takes to be an Olympian, and their favorite foods in London. Richmond described the feeling of participating in his first opening ceremonies and walking next to Kobe Bryant while Parker discussed the shooting events at the Olympics.
"When I talk about the Olympic experience to anybody I always want to get across two things," Parker said. "One, that I am a regular person just like they are. And, two, that they can be an Olympian too. I am no different than Michael Phelps, except for the hardware, in that when I was young I had a dream and I chased that dream. It is so important for our youth all over the world to know that they can achieve their dreams if they set their mind to do it."
"I think it was really cool that these Olympic athletes also protect their country," Hayley Jacobs, 16, of Maidenhead, said. "It sounds like they have a tough job doing everything that is asked of them, but they are really good at it. I am so glad they came here today."
As the London Games wind down and thousands of athletes revel in the fact that their work is complete and they can relax, the Soldiers said that while they intend to see some other sports, their mission to tell the Army story trumps everything else.
"We showcase the Army on the national and world stage, competing and winning," Richmond said. "But what a lot of people don't realize is that when we travel internationally and meet men and women of all ages that may be their first encounter ever with an American, Soldier or not.
"We are handed the responsibility of representing our entire country and making that all-important first impression of an American to a lot of people. That is a big responsibility, but one I am very proud to have. An event like today is what makes being in the USAMU so unique and I love every second of it."
United States Army Marksmanship Unit