November 12, 2009

World War II Snipers Dream Shot to be Featured on National Television Program

Veteran Ted Gundys visit to Fort Benning, GA, will be featured on Shooting USA on The Outdoor Channel.

A bold and dashing adventure is in your future.

That was the message Ted Gundy received from his fortune cookie after finishing off one of his favorite meals, Chinese food. Little did he know, the prophetic message was soon to ring true, courtesy of one chance e-mail.

Gundy, a firearms enthusiast, was intrigued by the intricacies of todays long-range firearms, in particular, all of the components that go into making a 1,000 yard shot. After going over the components of such a task, Gundy decided to ask the host of one of his favorite television programs, Shooting USA on the Outdoor Channel. Ted e-mailed the host and executive producer Jim Scoutten, asking him about such a shot.

In following correspondences the TV host learned that Gundy is a World War II veteran, and actually was a sniper at the Battle of the Bulge.

After talking with Ted, learning about his service and his history, the idea for a show was formed, Scoutten said. Here we had a guy that was a sniper 65 years ago, wanting to learn more about todays long range shooters.

Scoutten latched onto the idea that allowing Gundy the opportunity to take a 1,000 yard shot would make great television.

He was not alone in the concept, as the United States Army came on board for the idea of bringing the veteran to Fort Benning, GA, to the Armys sniper school and in particular to the Army Markmanship Unit.

When I opened that fortune cookie, I never had any idea it had something like this in store for me, Ted said. It is times like this that make you realize there is someone looking out for you.

After four months of planning, Ted and his son Mike flew to Atlanta. They were the official guests of the United States Army and the Army Marksmanship Unit. The later is home to the worlds best shooters, a unit that was first designated by President Eisenhower as the best of the best to represent the United States. The group regularly sends competitors to the Olympics.

When they arrived at Fort Benning, GA, Gundy toured the sniper school and witnessed the training some of the worlds best marksmen undertake.

That was a far cry from what I went through, said Gundy. We arrived overseas as replacements, fresh out of infantry school. They knew that I had scored the highest score in our company, so they passed out the sniper rifle to me.

Thus a sniper was born. Sixty-five years later, Ted was able to witness the results

of the modern training regimen. Gundy was introduced to arguably the best sniper team in the world, winners of the international sniper competitions the past two years. The plan was for Ted to work with SFC Robbie Johnson and SFC Jason St. John and ultimately to have the opportunity to take a 1,000-yard shot.

That is exactly what took place on November 4th. Ted watched as the Army sniper team put three rounds into the target at the prescribed distance.

Admittedly the 84-year-old was a bit nervous when he took the weapon. His first two attempts missed their mark. But Gundy had not traveled all that way to not make his dream shot. As a matter of fact he made it three times, as the final three rounds found their target despite it being 1,000 yards away.

You cannot believe the sophisticated equipment these guys work with day in and day out, Gundy said.

He noted the weaponry and other gear is a far cry from his service weapon, a rifle mounted with a three-power scope, that he noted most folks today wouldnt even put on their .22 rifle.

Gundy was able to get a first-hand reminder of how far sniper rifles have come in 65 years. He was presented with a replica Springfield A4 sniper rifle and scope courtesy of Gibbs Rifle Company. Not only was he allowed to fire the reproduction of his WWII weapon on the range, he brought the gift home as a memento of the amazing trip.

In addition to the rifle, Ted came home sporting a new black baseball cap. He admits at first look it may not seem to special, but his is just the third black hat to be officially presented to a civilian. Only two other non-Army shooters have received the honor of wearing the official uniform head gear of the Army Marksmanship Unit.

They presented Ted with the hat as well as a framed citation in a special ceremony, Scoutten said. Im not an emotional guy, but I had to back away from the camera during the presentation and the reading of the citation, as I was getting choked up by the honor being given to Ted.

Gundy wasnt finished there. The Army gave the group a special tour of the new Army Infantry Museum at the base, and Gundy also toured the sniper school, the gunsmith and reloading centers.

The Army really did roll out the red carpet for us, Gundy said. It was an amazing trip.

Ted also had the opportunity to visit with another member of the shooting squad, one who has suffered a similar injury to his own. In 1944 Gundy was hit by an artillery round and ultimately ended up loosing his leg.

He visited with a member of the team who was injured in Iraq and also had lost a leg.

Ted was such an inspiration, not only to this soldier who had recovered from a similar injury, but to all of the soldiers who had the opportunity to meet him on this trip, said Scoutten. I suspect he went home with a sore arm, because every one of these soldiers wanted to shake his hand.

Part of that message was received by one of the graduating classes at the infantry school, who heard from Gundy prior to their graduation ceremony.

Scoutten said on numerous occasions throughout the trip Gundy would comment that he didnt deserve this opportunity and the recognition he was receiving.

He told me that he didnt do anything special, and that he was only over there for a couple months before he was wounded and knocked out of the fight, Scoutten said. We all let Ted know what an inspiration he is to all of us, and that by paying tribute to him we honor the millions of other veterans, many of which are no longer with us.

Teds story is expected to air sometime in January in a 30-minute special edition of the regular program Shooting USAs Impossible Shots. The Memphis Democrat will report the dates and times when the official air date is announced.

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