Yokota Air Base, Japan –
She entered the competition for fun, not expecting to place; after all, she had no experience shooting a rifle.
On an early September morning, Dr. (Capt.) Elizabeth M. Anthony, officer in charge of the Yokota Veterinary Treatment Facility, arrived at the base’s Excellence Competition Rifle Match, and in a couple of hours, shot her way to the top score.
“I signed up with Staff Sgt. Johnson at the last minute, as a fun team-building exercise for the two of us to perform on our training day,” said Anthony.
By chance, that morning, Johnson wasn’t able to go.
This left Anthony with an uneasy feeling, fed by something she called ‘imposter syndrome’ – a term loosely defined as doubting one’s abilities.
“This is only my second year in the Army, and I was fighting this feeling, as if I did not deserve to be part of the competition, did not deserve to shoot alongside the Airmen participating,” Anthony said. “This is because I have very little experience in riflery.
“I grew up only shooting shotguns, and occasionally handguns, but had very little practice with rifles,” she added.
But despite her fears, Anthony showed up, her hands shaky for most of the event. She gathered her leadership abilities and focused on the responsibilities she had to the younger Soldiers also participating in the competition.
The young captain drew on the safety principles ingrained in her growing up.
“During each stance, I just utilized the breathing techniques I had been taught over the years of shooting handguns and focused on firing on the exhale and allowing the shot to surprise me,” she said.
Emphasizing those two points kept Anthony steady and on target.
The feat wasn’t an easy one. Several hundred competitors vied for the highest score. Each attempted to master the course armed with M-4 carbines, 50 rounds, and four unsupported firing positions.
Once the tallies were taken, Anthony learned that she shared the top billet with an Air Force captain.
That’s right – a young veterinarian, with only about two years in the Army and little to no rifle experience, had tied for first place.
It didn’t take long for Anthony’s win to be noticed by her unit’s chain of command.
Approximately 3,800 miles away, Sgt. Maj. Danny Hailey, the Public Health Command-Pacific sergeant major, was paying attention to the young officer’s accomplishments.
“Being new to the Army while serving overseas in a non-Army installation can be intimidating,” Hailey said. “Then, to put yourself out front against Air Force competitors, on their turf, can be intimidating.
“This definitely shows her personal courage and loyalty to the Army values,” Hailey added.
Public Health Command-Pacific is a direct-reporting unit of Regional Health Command-Pacific, the Army's most geographically-dispersed medical command.
Headquartered in Honolulu, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and Camp Zama, Japan, PHC-P provides comprehensive public health support to protect the force, promote health, and prevent disease and injury via preventive medicine strategies, veterinary services, and food defense operations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.