Fellow Black Hawk William E. (“Bill”) Krilling passed away on February 22, 2014, after a life that was long and well lived in service to his nation and the sport of shooting.
The man most of us knew as a constant presence as competitor and coach on the firing line at Camp Perry and numerous other ranges home and abroad was a soldier first.
As a noncommissioned officer he “distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Satae-ri, Korea, on 13 February 1953.” Wounded, Bill assumed command of his patrol after its commander was wounded, attacked an enemy position across a minefield, and rescued three of his injured companions, guided his men back to safety and only then allowed himself to be treated for his wounds. For this act of bravery Bill was awarded the second highest award for courage under fire, the Distinguished Service Cross.
Bill was also distinguished in several other ways, more familiar to his firing line friends. He won six national championship titles. He was the first person to shoot a perfect 3200 on the NRA outdoor prone course of fire and that was back in the day of the three pound trigger pull. He won four gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in international competitions. Along the way Bill was awarded the Distinguished Marksman Badge in 1955, United States International Distinguished Shooters Badge #35 in 1963, and NRA Smallbore Rifle Position and Prone Award in 1968 and 1968 respectively. He was also a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) Champion and team member of a winning National Trophy Team Match
Following his service in his second war, Vietnam, Bill was assigned to the United States Army Marksmanship Training Unit (USAMU) where he served as a shooter, instructor, and coach until he retired in 1971 at the rank of Master Sergeant. Like an old fire horse responding the bell Bill was back at the USAMU in May 1974 as the coach of the International Rifle Team.
He also served as the U.S. National Team coach from 1981 to 1986 and has served in several different capacities for both the U.S. Team and the International Sport Shooting Federation. Bill was named the U.S. Olympic Committee 1998 National Shooting coach of the Year. Bill has served on numerous ISSF juries for world-level competitions include the juries for five Olympic Games. Bill was inducted into the AMU Hall of Fame in 1998.
Between May of 1973 and March of 2001 he coached his team to 105 CISM medals, 172 CAT medals, 84 Pan Am medals, 185 World Cup Medals, and 4 Olympic Medals; a grand total of 550 medals won in international competition.
At the opening ceremony for the 2011 International Shooting Sports Federation World Cup at Fort Benning he was awarded the highest ISSF honor, the “President Button” by the ISSF President, Mr. Olegario Vazquez Raña, whom Bill had coached when Raña was competing.
The William E. Krilling Trophy was donated to the NRA by the US Army Marksmanship Unit in honor of Krilling. The silver plated cup with a large black metal base, and three standing shooters on the base, was placed in competition in 2001 and is presented to the Three Position Metallic Sight Champion.
Bill Krilling dedicated nearly 53 of his 86 years to his nation and in return his nation dedicated a firing range at Fort Benning in his honor. The Krilling Range is an action and combat shooting range that is now the home of the USAMU Action Shooting Team.
We Are Diminshed.