Archive for March, 2010

The Sniper

Posted: March 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

“It doesn’t matter how many people I’ve killed, what matters is how I get along with the ones that are living.” – Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski

I don’t know who you are, and neither do you know me.

I don’t what you’ve done and frankly, I don’t care.

All I know is, I was sent here for you. There can only be one reason.

Because individuals like you deserve men like me.

You are the reason I exist. You make me necessary. In a way, you complete me.

I see you outside your house, drinking your coffee. Smoking your cigarette.

Then you look at me. And for a moment, we lock eyes, and my heart skips a beat.

But I know you don’t see me. I’m too good for that.

Then your face breaks into a faint smile. What memory triggered that, I wonder?

A loved one? A moment in your distant past?

How I would like to go down there and ask you.

But my place is here. On this hillside, looking over you like a guardian angel.

For seven hours I’ve lain here, waiting for a sign.

The one that will decide your fate. For it is not up to me.

I am but the messenger. And my message brings Death in a 7.62mm NATO slug.

Suddenly, I see movement behind you. A little child. A boy of two or three.

Followed by a pretty young woman. Your son and your wife? I was never told.

Does your wife know that you are responsible for ordering the deaths of women and children? I would think not. No woman could love a man like that.

The boy runs awkwardly on his little feet towards you, teetering as if he’s about to fall.

I’ll admit grudgingly, it was a moment that tugged at my heartstrings.

For I have little boy of my own, much younger than the one you now held in your arms.

And then, as if the Universe itself conspired against us both, my radio crackles to life. Through my earpiece.

“Viking Two or Viking One, Voodoo-Six.” The voice of my commander.

Viking Two, my partner, acknowleged.

“Voodoo-Six, Viking Two. Go ahead. Viking One has the Tango.” Silence.

“Copy, Viking One has the Tango. Be advised, negotiations have failed. Terminate your Tango.” Silence.

“Understood, Voodoo-Six. Viking One will X-ray (terminate) the Tango.” Silence.

The decision’s been made. We’re now at The Point Of No Return.

I look at you through my Leupold scope. How happy your family is.

I watch you give your son a last hug, then he runs to your wife, and they both go back inside.

I’ve said it before. Lady Fate’s one sick bitch.

Viking Two turned towards me, sensing I was lost in my thoughts.

“I can take this one, if you want.”, he said.

I replied, “No, I’ll do it. This one’s mine.”

For how could you ever ask anyone to relieve you of such a burden?

This was a burden that only I must carry. I look through my scope.

Carefully, I place the cross-hair in the center of your chest. Then I move it to the left and slightly down, about an inch or two.

This would ensure that my round will penetrate your lung.

Why am I doing this? My orders were very specific, friend.

You are not to die a quick death.

That is something you reserve for a fellow warrior, or a worthy adversary.

You are neither.

I take a deep breath. I exhale slowly, and halfway through it I stop and hold it.

At this point the blood starts going to my head. In fifteen seconds my vision will start to tunnel, and my hand will start to tremble.

I feel a calmness come over me.

I am in the zone now. My own bubble. And you are in it.

I move the safety switch forward, and the very tip of my finger is resting on the side of the trigger.

And as I have done many times before, I give the trigger that final, almost loving caress.

I don’t hear the rifle’s report. I almost never do.

Just that firm nudge as it kicks back into my shoulder pocket.

I lose you in my scope for a moment.

When I reacquire, I see you sprawled on your back. Your wife comes out the door, running.

She screams when she sees you lying there, your blood staining the ground.

And as intended, you are still alive. But barely.

The blood will fill your lungs, and you will drown in it.

Nothing your wife does will save you. If only she were not here to see this.

Her screams will haunt me for the rest of my days.

It takes three minutes for you to die, and through my scope, I watch you take your last breath.

Whatever thoughts I had were interrupted by the words coming through my earpiece.

“Voodoo-Six, Viking Two. Tango is X-ray. Repeat, Tango is X-ray. Mission complete.”

The Rifleman’s Creed

Posted: March 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

THIS IS MY RIFLE.

There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life, I must master it as I must master my life.

My rifle, without me is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will…

My rifle and myself know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit…


My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sight and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravage of weather and damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

My old M21. M14 mounted with a Leupold 10X magnification sniper's scope. *Sigh*

The Infiltrator

Posted: March 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

I am a figment of your imagination.

I am but a blade of grass that sways with the wind.

I am there, just outside of your peripheral vision.

I am that glimmer that you thought you saw.

I’m there when you think I’m not. And I’m not, when you think I am.

But you will never be sure.

You will always have that nagging doubt.

I will neutralize your sentry, and infiltrate your perimeter.

I will get the job done, no matter the cost.

Then I will melt back into the shadows.

And the only evidence of my passing shall become plain to you in the morning.

When you find your buddies in their foxholes.

With their throats slit.

I know, I know. It’s a U.S. Marines marching song. And bein’ a Ranger, I’m not supposed to like it, right? But damn it, I love it. I even got you the damn lyrics. Nyahahaha!!!

Who’s the leader of the club
that’s made for you and me?
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E
Hey there. Hi there. Ho there.
You’re as welcome as can be.
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Mickey Mouse. (Mickey Mouse)
Mickey Mouse. (Mickey Mouse)

Forever let us hold our banner high.
High. High. High.

Come along and sing a song
and join the jamboree.
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Here we go a-marching
and a-shouting merrily.
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E
We play fair and we work hard
and we’re in harmony.
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Mickey Mouse. (Mickey Mouse)
Mickey Mouse. (Mickey Mouse)

Forever let us hold our banner high.
High. High. High.

Boys and girls from far and near
you’re welcome as can be.
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Who’s the leader of the club
that’s made for you and me?
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E
Who is marching coast to coast
and far across the sea?
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Mickey Mouse. (Mickey Mouse)
Mickey Mouse. (Mickey Mouse)

Forever let us hold our banner high.
High. High. High.

Come along and sing a song
and join the family.
M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Trauma

Posted: March 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.

-T.R. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War


I’ve been asked so many times, “What’s it like being in a firefight?” It’s a hard question to answer, not for lack of words, but because of the abundance of words you can use to describe it.

Before you can even begin to understand what a firefight is like, you need to understand the mentality behind it. Especially of the ones who do it as part of their jobs. I’m not talking about road-rage shit, where people shoot each other over some traffic accident or something. That’s not a firefight. That’s just an altercation. Most firefights are not even one on one, but one group of individuals against another. I’m talking about engaging an enemy who is just as determined to kill you as you are to kill them. And sometimes you get the really quick and nasty, balls-to-the-wall shootout.

The profession of arms is different from others, both as an institution and with respect to its individual members, the soldiers. The consequences of failure almost always lead to certain death. That’s why “Failure is not an option.”

Other professionals perform dangerous tasks daily, but only members of the Armed Forces can be ORDERED to place their lives in peril anywhere at any time. It is not a matter of choice, which is what makes the job extraordinary indeed.

The phrase “There’s always a choice.” may apply in most other situations, but when you’re in the profession of arms, that phrase falls under the category of “Complete and utter bullshit.” Not when you’re looking down the business end of an AK-47 assault rifle in the hands of a 16-year old kid. Not when you have a female enemy combatant coming at you with a grenade. Not when your buddies are getting killed around you. Surely not after you’ve just seen a good buddy of yours get split from groin to clavicle by an RPG explosion. Going into harm’s way is part and parcel of the responsibilities you accept when you signed up, whether you were aware of it or not. There is no goddamn choice.

There is what’s known as the Warrior Ethos. If you are a member of the exclusive community of men and women who bear arms and engage the enemy in close combat, these are the things instilled in you from Day One of your training:

• I will always place the mission first.
• I will never accept defeat.
• I will never quit.
• I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Which explains why the training is so tough. And if your Regiment is part of the Special Operations Command like the Scout Rangers, it’s even tougher. Eight out of ten recruits will almost certainly fail. If you ask me, I think it’s because they choose the ones with the most violent tendencies, and the ones who like pain, haha. Which makes sense. Violent actions require violent men. And back then, I was exactly that. So were most of those I trained with.

And through training they enhanced your capacity for violence, but at the same time taught you how to control it and use it when necessary. Yeah, we were a small band of sociopaths, the ones that made it. And to top it all off, all our weapons drills and tactical training was done with live ammunition. Because the more you bleed in training, the less you bleed in combat.

The usual “10-minute rest” before continuing the patrol. Testing out the team’s image-intensifier…

One of the first phrases you get to learn is “Wala ‘to.” or “Wala yan.”, which in English translates to “It’s nothing.” or as American soldiers say, “It don’t mean a thing.” Why? It’s what you tell yourself whenever things go bad. Sprained your ankle while on a forced march exercise, and you gotta walk on it for ten more kilometers? It’s nothing. The guy next to you gets hit by a bullet while you’re doing a live-fire exercise? It’s nothing. It’s a state of mind. Even civilians can use it. Spilled your last bottle of beer? It’s nothing. Your ex slept with one of your best friends? Dude… that’s nothing. You know… shit like that.

And when you keep telling yourself this over and over again in the course of all those months in training, it becomes second nature. This is what helps you block out the ugly things that you see on the battlefield. It helps preare you for the hard things that a soldier must sometimes do. Some men freeze in combat. You freeze, you die. It’s that simple. It’s nothing.

The one thing it can’t do for you though, is stop the trauma. I remember coming home to my ex once after two weeks of constant patrols and combat.  We operated in support of a battalion of regular Army infantry soldiers, the most exhausting two weeks of my life.

Soldier with helmet was our sergeant. He’d taken the helmet from a dead soldier during the final mosque assault (background). Man on right was our pointman, Ellis. He was killed in action the day after the pic was taken.

In those two weeks, I had seen six of my friends get killed, one of whom was my teammate. I made two of my first sniper kills. And it was also the first time I saw combat in an urban area, and we were ordered to take out an enemy position…in a mosque. When the smoke cleared, we found that the four men we’d killed were all chained together. They had wrapped a long chain around their waists and secured it to their bodies using padlocks. This guaranteed that none of them would run and all of them would die together. How do you wrap your head around that? (I’ll tell you about it in another post.)

Police vehicle burned by Muslim separatist rebels during the fighting.

It was also two weeks that consisted mostly of night skirmishes, where we were constantly surrounded by the enemy, and I can’t count the times I heard the command no infantryman ever wants to hear: “Fix bayonets.” That was how close most of the fighting was.

Civilian executed by insurgents.

This is a pic of the MILF troops we fought against. Note that they too wore uniforms almost identical to ours.

More dead civilians…

I was okay sleeping beside her and our son on the bed at first. Then in the wee hours of the morning I would wake up to the sound of gunfire that wasn’t there. I would wake up to the sounds of the screams of wounded and dying men who weren’t there. By the fourth night I moved to the living room but this time I couldn’t sleep. It was claustrophobic. By the fifth night my ex came out and found the living room empty. Scared, she came out looking for me on the porch. I wasn’t there. She finally went to the backyard and found me sleeping like a baby in a foxhole I’d dug in the ground. She decided not to wake me because I had my .45 cal. pistol clutched in my right hand, resting on my chest, with the safety catch off. Beside me was a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun and my M4 assault rifle.

The hell of it was, I didn’t remember going out there and digging that foxhole. Crazy shit.