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Hat Trick: California National Guard Marksmen Win Third Straight National Championship

(L to R holding awards) Staff Sgt. Leif Devemark, Sgt. 1st Class Sean Bayard, Sgt. Demetrios Iannios, Spc. Javier Tapia-Garcia, a team of California Army National Guard Soldiers, won their third title in a row at the U.S. Army Small Arms Championship at Fort Benning, Georgia, Feb. 1-7, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Piper, USAMU)

Four California National Guard (CNG) infantrymen took top honors in the U.S. Army Small Arms Championship in Ft. Benning, Ga., marking the group's third consecutive national championship win.

The team from California competed against 27 other squads from active-duty Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units nationwide for the top prize. The Team Championship tests a squad's ability with a rifle and pistol in various events that also challenge physical fitness, decision-making, motor skills and psychological resilience.

In addition to their overall win, Team California also earned first place in the Multi-Gun Championship, Pistol Championship, Pistol Team Match with 1.5-Mile March and Paper Team Match categories.


Team California took home the top trophy but also brought in numerous other team and individual awards that tested their stamina, aim, and knowledge of multiple guns and targeting scenarios. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Piper, USAMU)


"Once again, California National Guard soldiers have shown their talents and capabilities are tops in the country," said Lt. Col. Daniel Markert, state marksmanship coordinator for the CNG. "These soldiers embody the tradition of the citizen-soldier and we're proud of their hard work, dedication and top-class skill."

The CNG Marksmanship Program aids in the development of a soldier's capabilities and leadership, added Markert.

"We are developing their ability to operate under extreme pressure, and it doesn't matter what weapon we hand them," Markert said. "They'll go back to their units as subject matter experts, so they can take that expertise and that skill-building mindset to other troops."

The four Team California members are:


  • Sgt. 1st Class Sean Bayard of Los Banos, Calif.
  • Staff Sgt. Leif Devemark of Ventura, Calif.

  • Spc. Tapia-Garcia of Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Sgt. Demetri Iannios of Callahan, Calif.

CNG marksmen earned a number of individual awards, and all four team members were among the top five National Guard shooters. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Piper, USAMU)

In addition to the Team Championship, the CNG marksmen also collected a number of individual awards, with all four team members finishing ranked among the top five National Guard shooters. Other individual awards are as follows:

  • Sgt. Demetrios Iannios — 3rd Place Overall, Individual Competition; 2nd Place Overall, Multi-Gun Match; 2nd Place, Combat Rifle Excellence in Competition Match
  • Staff Sgt. Leif Devemark — 1st Place, Pistol Match

Additional photos and video of Team California competing can be found here.

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