LaGrange resident named to Army shooting hall of fame

Published 9:29 am Tuesday, November 28, 2023

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For three decades a current LaGrange resident has helped show that the U.S. Army marksmen are among the best in the world.

After a career of countless accolades, LaGrange resident Col. (retired) Bruce Meredith has been inducted into the United States Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Hall of Fame. The 86-year-old champion shooter served active duty from 1961 to 1968 as a nuclear and missile officer during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Meredith served as the speaker for last year’s Veterans Day service in LaGrange, where he recounted a story about how close the United States and Russia came to nuclear war.

Meredith told the story of Russian Navy Officer Vasily Arkhipov, who was on a Russian submarine off Cuba that was being pummeled with depth charges. Arkhipov made the decision to not launch a nuclear torpedo at the USS Randolph, preventing what likely would have been World War III, Meredith said. Decades later, he was posthumously given a Future Life Hero of Progress Award for his humanitarian action that day.

Throughout his service, both active and reserve, the USAMU alum Meredith served as a shooter and coach. Meredith served with the Army Marksmanship Unit on various rifle teams from 1958 to 1968, and later with the Army Reserve Team until 1986.

Bruce was a part of teams that won 65 Team National Championships and set 146 Team National Records, earning 73 personal national records.

The retired colonel is one of the most prolific shooters in the United States, having competed and coached in 40 nations over 71 years, including five Olympic games, 10 World Shooting Championships, eight Pan-American Games, six Championships of the Americas, eight World Crossbow Championships and five Central American and Caribbean Games.

Originally from West Virginia, Meredith began shooting in high school and was named an All-American twice at West Virginia University earning the school their first National Collegiate Rifle Champion in 1961.

During his military shooting career, Meredith has earned Distinguished Badges in Rifle, Pistol, International, NRA Smallbore Rifle Prone, NRA Smallbore Rifle Position, NRA International Smallbore Rifle and Modern Crossbow, as well as countless other accolades.

Meredith left active duty at the USAMU as a major and was the officer in charge and team captain of the U. S. Army Reserve International Team (International Rifle and Running Target) from 1968 to 1986, where he managed a team of 84 former USAMU rifle shooters, many becoming USAMU Hall of Fame shooters themselves.

Teams supported by Meredith won over 100 medals for the United States in the Olympic Games, World Shooting Championships, Pan American Games and the Championships of the Americas.

“It’s an honor to be joined among a number of other top shooters, many of whom are Olympic champions and world champions and coaches and administrators. I shot with some of the best shooters in the world,” Meredith said.

Meredith said he shot during the “golden years” of competitive shooting in the 1960s and 1970s, noting that the Olympics have been cutting down on showing shooting events on television to make it more public-oriented.

Watching a shooting match on TV can be pretty boring, he said.
Meredith specialized in rifle shooting, both small-bore and high-powered rifles. 

“I played around a little bit with a pistol, and I was worthless with a shotgun,” Meredith said. “My specialty was always with a rifle.”

Col. Meredith retired with 30 years of combined active and reserve service with the U. S. Army on July 4, 1991.