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The Impossible Shots Special – The Old Sniper



Ted Gundy, Sniper

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The Story Behind Honoring an Old Veteran
by Jim Scoutten

It really did start with an e-mail message from Ted Gundy. He was already a viewer of Shooting USA, so he knew how to send me a message

He wrote that he couldn’t imagine how today’s snipers made shots out to 1,000 yards, that he couldn’t have done that when he was a sniper during the Battle of the Bulge. And, while he had always been a shooting enthusiast and a hunter, he wondered if I could arrange for him to try a shot at that distance.

I did the quick math… The Battle of the Bulge was 1944. Ted Gundy had to be in his 80s. So I wanted to know if Ted was real, if he could still get around, that he was of sound mind. His daughter Michele came into our conversation and she was first suspicious that this might be some kind of a scam. I assured her the conversation was real and we were considering a plan if Ted could travel. 

Hometown Newspaper Item in 1944

Michele sent photos and memorabilia from her father’s time in the service. The home town article that noted he’d shot the highest score in his basic rifle training. That was the reason his commander designated him as a sniper when he arrived as a replacement in Belgium, just before the Nazi offensive we now call the Battle of the Bulge.

 

Michele sent photos of Ted marching on his prosthetic right leg in the Memphis, MO Memorial Day parade, wearing his WW-II uniform. Ted also had the current issue Army Class A Green uniform he wears as a member of the volunteer unit that renders honors for WW-II veterans who are dying in increasing numbers.

Ted Gundy with Sniper Team 
SFC Robbie Johnson and
SFC Jason St. John

With that information, I took the idea to LTC Daniel Hodne, Commander of the US Army Marksmanship Unit. I suggested we bring Ted to Fort Benning to try his 1,000 yard shot with the USAMU sniper team that had twice won the International Sniper Competition, SFC Robbie Johnson and SFC Jason St. John. Colonel Hodne liked the idea and the sniper team was enthusiastic.

Sniper School

Then we needed approval from the Fort Benning Base Commander for VIP Housing, for a tour of Sniper School, for dining in what is now called the DFAC (dining facility), a far cry from Ted’s time working KP, when Army Sergeants did the cooking in what was called the Mess Hall. Public Affairs Specialist Brenda Donnell got the assignment and the approvals for Ted and son Mike Gundy to be VIP visitors. We also needed approval to video tape in the new National Infantry Museum, that isn’t owned by the Army. The museum is operated by the National Infantry Foundation, headed by retired Major General Jerry White. PIO Cyndy Cerbin coordinated our visit and selected Matt Young to be Ted’s guide through the WW-II Company Street exhibit, and as the historian providing commentary on the Battle of the Bulge.

National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning

Then came the approval from the Army Media Relations Office in Los Angeles, that handles agreements when the Army is involved in Movie and Television production events Finally, I went looking for an ’03 Springfield A-4 Sniper Rifle and Scope. I first tried the Civilian Marksmanship Program, to learn the real ones that still existed, with the Weaver 3X scope, were too valuable at $5,000 to $7,000.  But Val Forgett had the solution, his re-creation of the ’03 A-4, now being sold by his Gibbs Rifle Company, a division of Navy Arms. Val sent in a rifle in time for Sergeants Johnson and St John to zero the scope, before personally flying down to Fort Benning to make the presentation to Ted.  

Val Forgett presents the '03 Springfield A-4

 

This story had more moving parts than anything we’ve ever attempted before. But after 4 months of organizing, we were ready for an extraordinary five days, that would result in an extraordinary story.

One of a thousand handshakes

Brian Speciale wrote the script for this show. His first draft timed out to nearly an hour for a show that is half as long. So there’s much you won’t see from Ted’s visit to Fort Benning. But you will see how much the members of today’s Army value the service and sacrifice of those who came before them. I was worried during the week that we not walk Ted too much on his prosthetic right leg. As it turned out, it was Ted’s right hand that got sore, as virtually every soldier who came near him wanted to shake his hand.

Colonel Hodne presents the 
USAMU Black Hat

Throughout the visit Ted kept telling me, that he wasn’t a hero and he didn’t deserve the honors he was receiving. I said, “Ted, we can’t honor the millions of WW-II veterans who served and died for our freedoms, but you represent all of them this week. Accept these honors from the Army on behalf of your generation.”

Credits to our team for their work on this project:

Greg Simmons Videographer
Brian Speciale Producer
Mike Irvine Associate Producer
Carlos Torres Editor
Andy Southard Post Production

 

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