The 1973 Western Division Rifle and Pistol Matches

Story by PFC Steve Schloeder

The exploits of legendary Swiss patriot William Tell and his expert marksmanship with a crossbow, are widely known.

Tell, who shot a golden apple from atop his young son's head, was a 14th century "dinger," par excellence.

Continuing in his footsteps are the best 20th century "dingers" in the Marine Corps, west of the Mississippi, who participated in the 1973 Western Div. Rifle and Pistol Matches here last week.

Competitors for the matches included 247 rifle and pistol expert throughout the western U.S. including Okinawa and Hawaii. All had one goal in mind - they were trying to blaze their way into the finals of the Marine Corps Matches to be held at Camp Lejeune, N.C. later this summer.

Shooting their way to the Holcomb Trophy (awarded to the best pistol team), was the "gold" team from the 3d MAW, based at El Toro, Calif. Their 1107-21 (21 bulleyes) total was paced by Michael Hardaway's 284-6.

The Holcomb Trophy was named in honor of the 17th Marine Corps Commandant. It was donated in 1956 to the Marine Corps by the citizens of San Clemente as a token of their friendship.

The San Diego Trophy, also known as the "Bear Trophy," went to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve rifle team, with a score of 1171-84.

The trophy was presented to the Marine Corps by civic organizations of San Diego to be awarded annually to the best large Marine unit west of the Mississippi. (The large unit has personnel strength of 601 or more). This includes Hawaii and the 3d Mar. Div.

For a similar unit (strength 600 or less), the Wharton Trophy is given. Winning this trophy this year was the team from MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, with a score of 1151-65.

The trophy's history goes back to 1918 when Mrs. Sara Wharton Howard, a great grand-daughter of Lt.Col. Franklin Wharton, an early commandant, presented the award to the Marine Corps.

Top individual honors went home with Frank V. Kruk, 3d MarDiv., who fired 591-35 in rifle competition, and Jose Enriquez Jr., MCRD San Diego, who posted a 567-19 in the pistol competition. Both Marines were presented Model 720 Remington rifles by BGen Maurice C. Ashley, assistant chief of staff, G-3, at Headquarters Marine Corps, who was representing the Commandant.

Out of the matches will come their top ten percent rifle and pistol marksmen. They will, along with the top shooters from the Eastern Division Matches (held May 14 - 18 at Camp Lejeune), participated in the All-Marine Corps Competition. Both Matches are part of the 1973 U.S. Marine Corps Competition-In-Arms Program sponsored by HQMC, Washington, D.C.

This year's match executive officer Lt. Col. William W. McMillan, experience his first year in this job, express his thanks to all the shooters for making his first year a successful one. "Although this is my first time as match executive officer," said the colonel, "I believe we've accomplished the task of providing the best shooters in the west."

Temperatures and conditions throughout the week were detrimental to the shooters during the morning hours. But, when things cleared up - they proved they could hit the targets with amazing regularly from 200, 300 and 600 meters.

Attending the match awards ceremony, May 11, besides Brig.Gen. Ashley were: MajGen's Herman Poggemeyer Jr., basic commanding general; Kenneth J. Houghton, commanding general, 1st Marine Division; John N. McLaughlin, commanding general, 4th Marine Division; Homer S. Hill, commanding general, I MAF; Joseph C. Fegan, commanding general, MCRD San Diego, and retired MajGen I. M. Bethel.

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