Post Written by Bob Hopkins
Yes, that’s two Guardians, as in related active duty brothers Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Lee Fleming and Aviation Maintenance Technician Chief Petty Officer (AMTC) Wes Fleming. The brothers not only share a bond over their Coast Guard careers but also over their exceptional competitive shooting record.
These two Guardians have been proud to carry on the Coast Guard’s tradition of shooting excellence, one that would make the founder of federal firearms training, former Commandant Rear Admiral Harry G. Hamlet, proud.
LCDR Fleming has been representing the Coast Guard at the national level since 1995 and, at times, been the sole representative for the service. In 2003, his brother, AMTC Fleming, joined him and a Coast Guard team began to take shape. Now, the team has made the Coast Guard a leading U.S. Armed Service in national competitive shooting competitions.
At the 2009 National Pistol Championships in July, the Fleming brothers took first place in the Two Member Team National Championship event, marking the first time a Coast Guard team has won a team event at the competition. Just last week, Wes won the North Carolina State Outdoor Championship and Lee won the Master Class Championship at the same event. “It takes time, but I think it’s important that the Coast Guard be represented at national level events among the services. My commands have been supportive, providing travel funds and MWR sports grants that offset costs. That helps a lot,” said Chief Fleming.
Both Fleming brothers wear the Distinguished Marksman Badge and Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge on their uniforms, which signify that they have achieved the highest level of marksmanship proficiency with the service pistol and service rifle. To illustrate the significance of this accomplishment, the Fleming brothers are 2 of only 28 Guardians to have earned the status as Double Distinguished. “It’s great because when young shooters see those badges they want to know what it takes to earn them. It gives them a new goal to achieve,” Chief Fleming said.
“I’ve been around a while, and feel this is a great way for me to give something back to the Coast Guard and the younger people coming up in the service,” said LCDR Fleming. “It helps them develop a passion for the sport and enhances their professionalism.” Chief Fleming agreed. “Marksmanship is a fundamental military skill and I believe that developing excellence in the sport is a force multiplier (for the Coast Guard),” he said.
Beyond the personal reasons for their love of the sport, they also find that involvement in competitive shooting has helped their Coast Guard careers. “I’m a high energy guy,” Chief Fleming said. “Once you master the physical skills, competitive shooting becomes largely a mental sport. It’s helped me be more focused and calm in performing my job.” “I’ve benefited from the teamwork and networking that competitive shooting provides,” said LCDR Fleming. “It also requires dedicated concentration and attention to detail that translates well to any work environment, but particularly for military people.”
The brothers plan to continue to challenge their own skills as well as take the Coast Guard team to higher and higher levels of shooting excellence. The brothers regularly compete in one match a month individually and are working with their Coast Guard shipmates in fielding teams to compete in four major matches a year, including the U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command and All Navy Rifle and Pistol Matches, the Interservice Rifle and Pistol Match, and the National Pistol Championships at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, OH.
Bravo Zulu and Semper Paratus to LCDR and AMTC Fleming for Coast Guard excellence on the firing line.
LCDR Fleming is currently the Assistant Branch Chief at the Engineering and Weapons Schools in Yorktown, VA, and Chief Fleming is the Operations Chief at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, NC.
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