The Newport Rifle Club Junior Team in Middletown, R.I., is no stranger to The American Legion. Just last year, team member Catherine Green won The American Legion's Junior Air Rifle National Championship in the precision category. And as the team again prepares for the upcoming Legion Air Rifle National Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo., August 2-7, they found time away from training to support servicemembers in Afghanistan by collecting and mailing DVDs.
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Ga., has been sending its soldiers overseas as instructors, and one of the soldiers, Sgt. Sherri Gallagher, is well-known by many Newport Rifle Club members. Gallagher, who is one of the top long-range rifle shooters in the country and is currently in Afghanistan training the Afghan Army in marksmanship and soldier skills, received the U.S. Army Soldier of the Year award in 2010 – the first woman to receive the honorable award since its inception 10 years ago.
"Because my team has traveled to the (Legion Air Rifle) Nationals and several have had the opportunity to shoot next to, or attend camps coached by, members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Team, they feel a certain affinity for (the servicemembers)," said Michele Makucevich, Newport Rifle Club's coach.
Makucevich contacted Gallagher a few months back through instant messenger to ask what items she and her fellow servicemembers needed. Her immediate response was DVDs to watch during their downtime.
Therefore, the Newport Rifle Club Junior Team partnered with Legion Portsmouth Post 18 for assistance with collecting new and used DVDs to send to Gallagher and her unit. "The plan is for (Gallagher's unit) to start a sort of library of DVDs that will remain with the unit as new folks rotate in," Makucevich said.
The team members scoured their homes for DVDs and even collected many from friends and neighbors. Makucevich's goal was to send at least 100 DVDs, but her team surpassed her expectations. In a few weeks time, the junior team collected and mailed 225 DVDs to Gallagher in Afghanistan.
"When you talk to people about junior shooting and The American Legion, you can assure them that our kids aren't just good shooters, they're good people," Makucevich said.