Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA --
Over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28, the Quantico Shooting Club (QSC), located on the west side of Marine Corps Base Quantico, honored and preserved the memories of brave service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice by hosting the Eighth Annual Remember the Brave Shooting Match.
Retired Marine and event organizer Stephen Beck has hosted the match every year because he believes the armed forces are steeped in the tradition of recognizing the accomplishments of those who serve our country.
Beck, a former casualty assistance officer, realizing the significance of Memorial Day said, “Where these brave men and women were decorated in life, they must also be decorated in death for their sacrifice.
“A country that forgets its dead will not long stand,” he continued. “Memorial Day weekend has grown in popular belief as the weekend that the pools open and families go on vacation together, but for the past eight years this shooting match has become what Memorial Day is all about—recognition for our fallen service members.”
As Beck explained that the freedoms so many Americans enjoy today was not free and that it was bought with the blood of service members and the tears of their families, he emphasized that the importance of the shooting match is much more than a day off from work—it is a day for gratitude and solidarity.
The annual shooting match involves several match categories consisting of up to 1,000-yard long range shooting as well as pistol, shotgun and multi-gun format matches.
Each match format is named after a fallen service member and when a competitor wins a match they receive a wooden plaque detailing a fallen service member’s length of service and life. In addition, the winner has their name engraved onto one of the 22 trophies made in honor of that fallen service member.
Through Beck’s craftsmanship over the last eight years, he has been able to capture the fervor of each match by creating 22 uniquely crafted trophies each year, forged in remembrance of fallen service members, each one representing their lives and lengths of service.
Beck said during his stay at 29 Palms, California, he received many awards named after fallen service members, but seldom did these trophies and plaques ever display who these men and women were who laid down their lives and what the awards were meant to reflect.
“No service member who lays down their life for another should go forgotten,” Beck said. “People often hear about the heroism and valor with which our nation’s heroes fight, but few know of the names of the individuals who sacrificed their lives, so that another might live.”
Before the presentation of each award, Quantico Marines in attendance would read the bios of these service members so none of their stories would go unheard.
Over the years Beck has crafted these trophies by traveling and speaking with the widows, parents, siblings and friends of fallen service members in order to design the trophies in their image.
“A similar gravity is considered when honoring the families of the brave and their sacrifice,” Beck said. “The family of each service member was a mother or father, husband or wife, brother or sister or even a comrade-in-arms.”
According to Beck, these individuals are just as important as their fallen, because they are the ones who will carry their legacies into future generations.
The shooting match trophies were crafted to resemble service members such as Marine Cpl. Michael D. Anderson Jr., 21, who offered his life for a comrade, taking an entire round of bullets during small arms fire in Iraq.
Or, South Dakota native Cpl. Brett Lundstrom, 22, a second generation Marine who wanted nothing more than to serve his country after witnessing the horrors of 9/11—also offering his life in Iraq.
These trophies were crafted for the mothers and wives such as Chris Kinnard and Sandy Luhnow, who lost their husbands James Kinnard and Glenn Luhnow during the war in Vietnam. And the children of Kinnard and Luhnow, who grew up without fathers—these awards are for them.
One of the trophy recipients was Quantico Marine Sgt. Fredie Church—a three-time participant of the shooting match, who won in five of the 26 shooting categories and placed top three in numerous others.
“On Veterans Day we are offered the ability to thank all the veterans in person—shaking their hands and honoring their sacrifice, but on Memorial Day these thanks can seemingly fall on deaf ears, because it is harder to show your appreciation for the dead, when the dead can’t speak back,” said Church.
“It is events such as these that tell what Memorial Day is all about—being able to thank those by remembering their role in history,” he said.
According to Church there isn’t a man in this world who can say that they don’t want to leave their mark on the world and have their name solidified in the books of history.
Church’s name will be engraved on five of the trophies, thus placing his name in the history books alongside those who have fallen in the line of duty.
“I always feel humbled when I look at these trophies because it reminds me that many have paid the ultimate sacrifice before me,” Church said. “A lot of these men and women were infantry just like me and I am reminded everyday that men and women such as these laid down their life so that I would not have to.”
It was men such as Lance Cpl. Eric Herzberg, 20, of Severna Park, Maryland, a strong, God-fearing Marine who laid down his life Oct. 21, 2006 while conducting combat operations in Iraq, so that Marines such as Church could proudly serve their country today.
Or men such as 21-year-old Spec. Daniel “Lucas” Elliott, a young soldier, raised on fishing, hunting and country music in Youngsville, North Carolina, who sacrificed his life in Iraq, July 15, 2011 and wanted to do nothing more than join the Army and serve his country.
“We must never forget those who gave their lives for our country, for our freedoms, because this is their day,” Steve Mullins, president of QSC said. “When we host this event aboard base we do it to honor our fallen and bring meaning to Memorial Day.”
According to Beck, as they prepare for the 2018 shooting match, they want to continue bringing an important meaning to Memorial Day by recognizing more fallen service members. To make a submission for next year’s Remember the Brave Shooting Match email email@example.com.
For more information on joining the club or inquires about lessons and competitions contact the Quantico Shooting Club at 703-463-8214, or visit their website at www.quanticoshootingclub.com.
Founded in 1948, the Quantico Shooting Club, located on the west side of Marine Corps Base Quantico, is a non-federal, non-Department of Defense entity, which attracts more than 500 active duty and civilian members, on base and off, to its competitive and recreational ranges.