Until 2010 one of the most decorated male Olympians in the world was from Ohio.
Among the halls of the US Naval History Branch, eleven Olympic medals will forever stand the test of time, displayed as the achievements of a single Olympian. These medals belong to Carl Townsend Osburn, a forgotten hero whose roots trace back to Licking County Ohio. On May 5th 1884 Carl Townsend Osburn was born. Son of Logan Osburn and Mary C. Tavener Osburn, Carl grew up as a young boy in Jacksontown, Ohio. It was here that young Osburn was first taught his marksmanship that would come to define him in his future.
He left Jacksontown in August of 1903 and entered the US Naval Academy. He graduated 85th in his class in 1907. Shortly thereafter, Osburn was assigned sea service as a midshipman on board USS Rhode Island and the USS Castine. During this time Osburn served in Cuba and was recognized for his marksmanship, receiving the award Class A First Prize on the National Match Team in 1909. This award, along with his transfer to the USS Mississippi, would be the first stepping-stone to his success in the Olympic games.
In 1912, Osburn was promoted to Lieutenant and detailed to compete in the 1912 Olympic games. The games were held in Stockholm, Sweden and he was primed and ready to compete. Osburn's superior skill allowed him to win four medals in the games. He won gold in the team rifle shootout at 200, 400, 500 and 600 yards with a total of 1,687 points. At Stockholm he also won two silvers in the 300-yard and 600-yard rifle shootout. His final medal was a bronze in the small bore team 50-meter rifle shootout. Highly decorated, he exited the games, a hero, making his hometown of Jacksontown, Ohio proud.
After his success in the Stockholm Olympics, Osburn returned to active duty for the Navy. With his experience as a decorated military officer and an international competitor, he was granted the privilege of serving on the presidential yacht the Mayflower in 1915. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander aboard his voyages on the Mayflower. Osburn had the privilege of meeting with the President Wilson more than once on the trips. Due to World War I no Olympic games were held in 1916 so Osburn unfortunately could not compete. He did, however, compete in several National Match Teams events between the 1912 and 1920 Olympics.
After his duty on the Mayflower Osburn was again appointed to compete in the United States Olympic team. The 1920 games were held in Antwerp, Belgium. Antwerp would be Osburns most successful Olympic games. He would take six Olympic medals away from the competition. He was on the top of his game at the shootouts. With great skill he led his fellow competitors to an outstanding total of four Olympic gold medals. Dominating the 300-meter rifle category taking three gold medals in the events overall. The gold medals were in the 300 free rifle team, 300-meter military rifle, and 300-meter military rifle team. He also took a gold in the combined 300 and 600-meter military rifle team competition. Furthermore he got silver in the 300-meters standing team rifle, and a bronze in the men's running target shooting. He almost achieved seven medals, barely missing out bronze in a hard fought battle ending in fourth place in the men's running double shoot team event. Overall Antwerp was a great trip for Osburn and it helped to cement his legacy as a great Olympian for decades to come.
After Antwerp, Osburn returned to military duty. He was in command of the USS Schenck. He successfully led the crew in the Caribbean for a year. Following his control of the USS Schenck he was promoted to Commander. This was a great honor, recognizing his merit and achievement after serving in the navy for almost twenty years. Osburn then reassigned from shore duty to a naval inspector of ordnance in Rochester, New York. With Osburns return to land he was able to continue his passion for competitive shooting. He competed in several international shooting events where he achieved countless first prize trophies. After a plethora of first prize trophies from competing around the world, Osburn for one final time competed in the Olympics. Osburn choose to only compete in one event for the 1924 Paris Olympics. The 600-meter prone military rifle shootout would be his last event in the Olympics. He was a veteran therefore more comfortable than his first time competitors giving him a considerable advantage.
Lying prone on the blood stricken French terrain that had been the stage for a horrible war, Osburn etched his name one last time into the Olympic record books. Firing the high caliber military rifle, his shoots echoed through France. With authority and accuracy, he would take silver in Paris, allowing him a grand total of eleven Olympic medals. He was the most decorated male Olympian for almost 100 years. After Paris, the American hero from Jacksontown, Ohio would go on to be promoted to Captain in the US Navy and served is country for more than a decade after Paris. He finally retired and moved to California to escape the cold weather of Ohio in 1939. When Osburn died on December 28th 1966 the United States lost one of its greatest sons that day. The small farm boy from Jacksontown, Ohio is no longer known in his community, however his legacy and legend will forever be memorialized, in 1994 Osburn, along with eight other men. He was listed in the shooting hall of fame as being one of the country's nine greatest shooters.
Jarod Rose is a Sophmore in college and in love with all things car related. He is also a major history buff. He lives in Ohio and occasionally likes to write articles for Oppositelock. He also stole this idea from Doug DeMuro because it seemed like a good idea at the time.