---- — Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua J. Harris, son of James Paul and Yvonne Harris of Traverse City, an aviation electronics technician by title, but a sniper by trade, was one of 32 of the world's best marksmen who converged on the Army's top infantry post during the 10th annual International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.
For the first time ever, the sniper competition was conducted in 72 continuous hours. Competitors were pushed to their limits with little sleep and some of the most challenging events a sniper could encounter.
The competition started at 1 a.m. with the Night Cold Bore followed by Night Range Estimation, Night Pistol, Day Movers, and Day Unknown Distance. Day two continued with Night Movers, Night Target Detection, Stress Shoot, Know Your Limits, and the .50 Cal. The third and final days events were Night Unknown Distance, Live Fire Stalk, and One Shot.
Even in this grueling format, Harris and his fellow snipers could find a positive side to the sleep deprivation and exhausting schedule.
"Being here means I have the opportunity to prove my skills against the best," said Harris, a 2004 graduate of Traverse City West High School.
A competition of this caliber requires a serious training regimen that snipers like Harris, with Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., complete before taking the first shot down range.
"I spent many, many days on the range and a lot of long days at the gym," said Harris, who has been in the Coast Guard for five years. "We put a lot of work into practicing stress drills and range drills."
Traverse City native Randall Cole has recently accepted a position with the Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Cole's new position will be as a deckhand at the district's Gasconade, Mo., project office along the Missouri River.
Cole is a 1978 graduate of Traverse City Central High School. He retired from the Coast Guard in 2006 after 27 years of service. Cole also worked with the Elk Rapids Housing Commission as the maintenance supervisor.
Army National Guard Pfc. Eric Fryer graduated from the National Guard Patriot Academy at the Muscastatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind. The Patriot Academy is a pilot program of the National Guard Bureau that gives qualified high school dropouts the opportunity to join the National Guard, earn their high school diploma, and give back to the community. Fryer is the son of Colleen Fryer of Williamsburg.