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Hancock Field member competes in marksman competition

Senior Airman Matthew Rossen (Left), troubleshoots equipment during training on 6 APR 2014. Rossen was chosen to participate in a multinational marksman competition in South Africa. (New York Air National Guard Photo by Senior Duane Morgan)

Senior Airman Matthew Rossen (Left), troubleshoots equipment during training on 6 APR 2014. Rossen was chosen to participate in a multinational marksman competition in South Africa. (New York Air National Guard Photo by Senior Duane Morgan)

Hancocf Field Air National Guard Base -- Senior Airman Matthew Rossen, Joint Terminal Air Controller, with the 274th Air Support Operation Squadron, was chosen to represent the 174th Attack Wing in an international Marksmen Competition, which was held in South Africa.

"We were originally slotted for a physical fitness competition," said Rossen. "That competition fell through due to budgeting and when the shooting competition opportunity presented itself, I volunteered and was selected."

"He's a good airman and this is a great opportunity for him to represent the wing on a national stage," said Lt. Col. Patrick Cox, 274th ASOS Commander.

This was Rossen's first time competing in a shooting competition ever and he was selected alongside members of each of New York's Air National Guard units.

Once the marksmen team arrived in South Africa they were introduced to the high-ranking individuals who put the competition together and was given a tour of the base.

"We learned a lot about the history of South Africa on that tour," said Rossen. "We were able to visit their World War II and armor museums. We learned a lot about the culture."

During his free time Rossen spent a lot of time off base.

"We went out and seen local markets, visited their shopping malls and ate some great food," said Rossen.

"The culture there was amazing," said Rossen. " The people of South Africa were very welcoming and extremely nice."

After the initial meet and greet, every morning they would have breakfast with all of the countries that were participating in the competition. They also had a barbeque for all the participants before being issued their weapons.

The New York Air National Guard team placed second overall in the international competition.

Even when their scores were placed alongside several other state guard units, active duty and a category called "The best of the best," the 174th still placed second overall the entire competition. First, second and third place teams received medals and a plaque.

"It was exciting and I had an awesome time," said Rossen. "The shooting competition was amazing, we learned and shared techniques and a wealth of knowledge. I'd go back again at the drop of a hat."