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1007517.jpg FORT BENNING, Ga. – A former U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter is as a finalist for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. He is the first Olympic shooter ever selected as a finalist.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Lones W. Wigger Jr. was selected to four U.S. Olympic Teams and won three Olympic Medals. During his shooting career, Wigger won 111 medals (65 Gold, 38 Silver and eight Bronze) and set 29 world records in international competition – more than any other shooter in the world. He is a member of the USA Shooting Hall of Fame, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Hall of Fame and was also honored in 1996 by the USOC as a “Golden Olympian.”

Wigger, 70, of USA Shooting of Colorado Springs, Colo., is among the 18 individual Olympian Hall of Fame finalists announced by the USOC. He is a two-tour Vietnam Veteran and spent 25 years on active duty.

As a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, Wigger competed at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico and the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where he won a combined two Gold Medals and one Silver Medal. He also qualified for the 1980 Olympic Team.

Wigger also competed on five Pan-American Games teams, where he won five Silver and 13 Gold medals. At the 1982, 1978, 1974 and 1970 World Championships, Wigger won 12 medals – two Gold, six Silver and four Bronze.

Wigger started shooting with his father in Montana. At Montana State College, he was a four-time All-American and enrolled in Army ROTC. He joined the Army in 1960 and after his basic course was assigned to the Army Marksmanship Unit. Wigger shot for the USAMU International Rifle Team until 1967. After a tour in Vietnam, he returned to the Marksmanship Unit and shot until 1970. Wigger again deployed to Vietnam and served as the officer in charge of the 23rd Infantry Division Sniper School. He then returned to the USAMU in 1972 and stayed until his retirement in 1987.

After he retired from the Army, Wigger served as the director of the U.S. Shooting Team until 1992. He now is a member of the USA Shooting Staff as a coach and representative and works as a match director.

“Lones Wigger was my role model and the reason I joined the Army,” said USAMU International Rifle shooter and 1996 Olympian Lt. Col. Robert E. Harbison. “As a youngster, he inspired me to set high goals and open my eyes to the fact that the Army can help us achieve our goals. I encourage everyone to vote for him.”

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced Feb. 27 the finalists for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008 and invited the public to vote online at www.USOlympicHallofFame.com to determine who will comprise the next class of inductees.

USOC Hall of Fame voting continues through March 28. Six individual Olympians, one Olympic team and one Paralympian, along with a coach, a veteran and a special contributor, will be honored during the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Presented by Allstate. The awards-show style ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. June 19 at the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater in Chicago, Ill. Additionally, a nationally-televised special will enable sports fans across the United States to re-live the moments that catapulted the Class of 2008 inductees to U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame status. Envisioned as a lasting tribute to the pursuit of excellence and the Olympic ideals, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame was established to celebrate the achievements of America’s premier athletes in the modern Olympic Games.

“The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is a celebration of the unique spirit and heritage of the Olympic movement in America,” said USOC Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr. “We appreciate the support of Allstate Insurance Company for their continued support of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and their commitment to honoring the accomplishments of America’s Olympic greats and, in doing so, preserving the Olympic ideals.”

In 2008, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will once again be held in Chicago where the charter class was enshrined in 1983, with such Olympic legends as Bob Beamon, Cassius Clay, Peggy Fleming, Al Oerter, Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph, Mark Spitz, Jim Thorpe and the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” Hockey Team. Annual additions continued through 1992, adding Olympic legends such as Bart Conner, Donna de Varona, Dorothy Hamill, Sugar Ray Leonard, Carl Lewis, Greg Louganis, Phil Mahre, Debbie Meyer, John Naber and Mary Lou Retton. Corporate support from presenting sponsor Allstate sparked the Hall’s revitalization in 2004. The Hall of Fame consists of 192 Distinguished Members, including 84 athletes from individual sports, seven teams and 12 special contributors.

“Allstate is committed to celebrating and protecting the heritage and tradition of our U.S. Olympians and Paralympians,” said Lisa Cochrane, vice president of marketing at Allstate. “Our partnership with the USOC and our sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame is a perfect way for us to honor the legacies of our country’s greatest athletes, while supporting today’s Olympians and Paralympians as they strive to deliver the next memorable performances in Beijing, and in future Games.”

The Class of 2008 finalists in the individual sport/event, team and Paralympic categories were selected by a nominating committee consisting of athletes, members of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, historians and USOC representatives. The committee also selected the individuals to be honored in the coach, veteran and special contributor categories. Their names will be announced with the other inductees.

In addition to Allstate’s role as presenting sponsor for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, AT&T and Kleenex will serve as supporting sponsors for the event.

The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2008 Finalists are:

* Individual Finalists – Six to be inducted
Greg Barton, Canoe/Kayak
Bruce Baumgartner, Wrestling, freestyle
Joan Benoit, Track and Field
Jeff Blatnick, Wrestling
Brian Boitano, Figure Skating
Valerie Brisco, Track and Field
Oscar de la Hoya, Boxing
Teresa Edwards, Basketball
Karch Kiraly, Volleyball
Mary T. Meagher, Swimming
Sheila Young Ochowicz, Speedskating
Darrell Pace, Archery
J. Michael Plumb, Equestrian
David Robinson, Basketball
John Smith, Wrestling
Amy Van Dyken, Swimming
Peter Westbrook, Fencing
Lones Wigger, Shooting

* Teams – One to be inducted
1976 Women’s Swimming 4×100 Freestyle Relay
1992 Men’s Basketball Team
1996 Synchronized Swimming Team
1996 Women’s Gymnastics Team
1998 Women’s Ice Hockey Team

* Paralympians – One to be inducted
Ross Davis, Track and Field
Jean Driscoll, Track and Field
Sharon Hedrick, Track and Field
Jim Mastro, Judo/Wrestling/Track and Field/Goalball
John Morgan, Swimming.

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FORT BENNING, Ga. - A former U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter is as a finalist…