Darkhorse snipers kill insurgent sniper, recover stolen Marine sniper rifle

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by Guthooked, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. Guthooked

    Guthooked New Member

    Scout snipers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment killed an enemy sniper and recovered a Marine sniper rifle lost nearly two years ago during a mission near Habbaniyah June 16.

    The rifle was the one formerly used by four Marines of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment who were killed on a rooftop in Ramadi June 21, 2004.

    Sniper Section Four was in a hide when the spotter observed a military-aged male inside a nearby parked car videotaping a passing patrol of amphibious assault vehicles. The Marines saw a rifle stock by the insurgent’s side.

    “We were in the right place at the right time,” said Sgt. Kevin Homestead an infantryman from K Company serving as a spotter for the sniper team that day.

    They first radioed the passing Marines and told them they were being watched by an enemy sniper and to stay low. The insurgent then sealed his own fate by preparing the weapon. The 21-year-old Marine sniper, who declined to be interviewed – aimed in at the gunman’s head behind the rear-side window.

    He recited a mantra in his head. Breathe, relax, aim, squeeze, surprise.

    The enemy sniper died with the gun in his lap.

    They dialed K Company – or Samurai 6 – and reported the target was dead.

    “We then saw another military-aged male ... enter the passenger side door,” said Homestead, 26, from Ontario, Ore. “He was surprised to see the other shooter was killed.”

    The second insurgent scurried around the car and jumped in the driver’s seat.

    With the sniper now spotting for him, Homestead aimed in with his M-4 carbine and put three bullets in the driver before he could start the car.

    A squad of K Company Marines came to the position and saw the sniper dead and the driver shot three times. The driver died as soon as the squad arrived on scene.

    They pulled out the sniper rifle and immediately recognized that it was an M-40A1, the same used by the snipers of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in 2004.

    The trunk of the car contained a pistol, a hand grenade, dozens of 7.62 mm rounds, multiple license plates and several camcorder tapes.

    “When we saw the scope and stock, we knew what it was,” Homestead said.

    The rifle was missing for nearly two years – almost to the day. Marines believed the insurgent they killed, or those closely associated with him, had it all along. It is unknown how many times it was used against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

    “He was a very good sniper,” Homestead said. “But he got cocky and slipped up and it was our time to catch that.”

    The weapon came full circle, having originally belonged to the Darkhorse battalion in Operation Iraqi Freedom I, who turned it over to the “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. Coincidentally, a Darkhorse sniper killed the insurgent sniper, and a former Magnificent Bastard killed the spotter.

    Darkhorse battalion had been dealing with sporadic sniper attacks since arriving in Iraq in January. Now, Marines have one less sniper to worry about.

    “It’s very rewarding to take them out the way we did,” said Lt. Col. Patrick G. Looney, the battalion commander. “Doubly rewarding that it’s a 2/4 sniper rifle, even though it won’t bring back the four Marines who were killed that day.”

    Triple rewarding that it won’t be used on another Marine or soldier, he added.

    “The credit has to go to Sgt. Homestead and the Sniper Section leader who made the kill,” said 1st Lt. J. H. Cusack, Sniper Platoon commander. “It was more than being in the right place at the right time.

    “It was the culmination of all of the training and planning the section leader had done up until that moment,” Cusak added. “Being absolutely alert and focused to detect a small clue during a period of apparent inactivity and a perfectly executed shot.”

    Darkhorse snipers have since removed the powder and primer from the last 7.62 mm round chambered in the recaptured rifle. They will mount it on a plaque and present it to the Magnificent Bastards’ snipers to honor their lost Marines.

    Looney said the ability to give some retribution for their loss makes the day a “grand-slam home run for sniper ops.” He credited the snipers’ professionalism and attitude in accomplishing the mission throughout their area of operations.

    “I would say that the guys who shot are typical of the Darkhorse snipers,” said Looney, 43, from Oceanside, Calif. “They’re very proficient, very modest, very busy. They’re out there almost daily doing great things in this AO and our old AO. The fact that they’re taking a back seat and letting the battalion reap the benefits is typical of the kind of Marines they are.”

  2. Tulcat

    Tulcat New Member

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Guthooked

    Guthooked New Member

    Here is some more info on this incident:

    CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (June 21, 2006) -- Call it a little bit of justice.

    Marine snipers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment shot and killed an insurgent sniper and spotter preparing to shoot at passing Marines, June 16. And the insurgents were going to use a stolen Marine sniper rifle for the attack.

    That rifle – an M-40A1 – belonged to the “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, a battalion within the Regimental Combat Team 5 family. It was taken by insurgents when a team of four Marines were killed in a rooftop outpost June 21, 2004, in Ramadi.

    Nearly two years to the day, Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker, the battalion’s sergeant major during their tour in Ramadi, said the news “sends a chill down my spine.”

    “It makes me feel real good to know a brother sniper got final revenge,” said Booker, in a phone interview from his post as the Marine detachment sergeant major at Fort Sill, Okla. “I really respect those young studs to do what they did.”

    Booker should know. Aside from leading his Marines through Ramadi, he’s a 20-year sniper himself, first acquiring the skill in 1986. He later led 1st Marine Division School’s Scout-Sniper School.

    And Booker knew the four Marines killed on the rooftop that day as well. Lance Cpl. Deshon Otey was the sole survivor of an ambush that killed his entire squad in April 2004. Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez was a combat replacement, pulled in to beef up the ranks.

    Lance Cpl. Pedro Contreras “was a good doggone kid,” Booker said. “He and I got in a gunfight together.”

    The final member was Cpl. Tommy Parker Jr., the team’s only trained sniper.

    “I can see it like the day I walked up there,” said Booker, a 44-year-old from Waco, Texas. He said they believed the team was killed around 10:40 a.m. After missing radio checks, a quick reaction force was dispatched.

    “We were there within an hour of (insurgents) filming it,” he said. The video of the dead Marines was already playing across Arabic-language news channels.

    A lot of confusion has surrounded that day. What is known is radio checks were logged from the time the team left their forward operating base around 1 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. the next day, the last time indicated in the logbook found in Contreras’ hand. They were found dead, blood pooled on the flat rooftop. A short wall surrounded the entire roof and a single staircase led to the top. They were found stripped of their weapons – two sniper rifles, four M-16A4s and a radio and thermal sight.

    The rifle that was the extension of Parker was gone. He and his team were killed and there were no clear answers as to who killed them or what happened to their weapons.

    “That’s sacred, the relationship you have with that thing,” Booker explained. “Parker shot thousands of rounds through that rifle.”

    Cpl. Angel S. Villalobos, a 23-year-old from Taft, Texas, with RCT-5’s Personnel Security Detachment, was a Magnificent Bastard in Ramadi in 2004. He remembered the day clearly. It was the day before he himself was wounded.

    “I wondered if it was this rifle that did it,” Villalobos said. “We were going through Ramadi, knocking down every door trying to find it.”

    Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew R. Campanano, a 26-year-old from Allentown, Pa., is serving with RCT-5 and saw the four Marines often. They lined up – scout snipers and the aid station’s hospital corpsmen – alongside each other in formations.

    “The guys who got this back, they’re great,” Campanano said. “These are the guys fighting this war out here.”

    Villalobos held the rifle in his hands and fell silent. He held it low, cradling it and examined the chipped paint jobs applied by Marines over the years. The Unertl scope was missing, replaced by a Tasco, but otherwise, the rifle was in good working order.

    “It means a lot knowing we got our rifle back because now they can’t use it against us,” Villalobos said. “I’m glad to know they got it back, but it brings up a lot of questions. It makes you wonder if they’re the ones who might have taken it.”

    The rifle’s long journey back into the hands of Marines from 5th Marine Regiment wasn’t forgotten by any of the former Magnificent Bastards, including Master Sgt. Rod B. Schlosser, the regiment’s assistant operations chief. He was the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Ramadi.

    The rifle was on his inventory and he cared for the four Marines.

    “It’s bittersweet,” said Schlosser, a 38-year-old from Steubenville, Ohio. “You’re first thought is on the loss of the Marines. But you’re reminded to be thankful for the skills of the Marines today to bring closure to this.”

    Schlosser said he often thought about the missing weapon, knowing the effect a sniper has on the battlefield. He also knew the insurgents had one of the finest rifles in their hands – and it was a Marine rifle, his Marines’ rifle.

    “It gets under your skin,” he explained. “The most important thing is knowing it’s not in the hands of the enemy. There’s gratitude for the 3/5 Marines, for the lives they’ve saved taking it out of the enemy’s hands.”

    Lt. Col. Paul J. Kennedy was the battalion’s commander in Ramadi. He now serves at the Office of Legislative Affairs and was told right away about the rifle’s recovery.

    “I was very pleased,” Kennedy said by phone. “It’s justice being carried out. The guys who perpetrated this crime should be rotting in hell and 3/5 allowed that to occur.”

    Kennedy has a hunch that the Darkhorse snipers of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment got those who killed, or at least had a part in killing, his Marines.

    “I don’t believe that weapon passed hands,” he said. “I think it was at least probably part of that cell. The very fact it was one of our snipers that killed theirs trying to use our rifle is poetic justice.”

    Kennedy said the news wasn’t so much closure on the loss of his four Marines. They can’t be replaced and the rifle is never a replacement for the Marines. Still, it was fitting that another 5th Marine Regiment battalion recovered a rifle stolen from his Marines. It’s a family matter, one battalion supporting another from the same regiment.

    What will happen to the rifle is still a question to be answered. Marines from RCT-5 are tracking down which unit should own it, according to how weapons sets were passed among deploying battalions. And the M-40A1s are being phased out for M-40A3s, a newer version used by Marines now.

    Booker said he’d hate to see the weapon go back into use, knowing insurgents used it to try, and possibly did, kill Marines.

    “There are evil spirits on it,” Booker said. Instead, he thinks it should be preserved.

    “I would like to see it sit in a place of honor,” he added.

    Kennedy said his battalion never brought home any war trophies. There was a memorial service to honor their 35 killed in action, but no lasting memorial exists at the battalion’s headquarters.

    Kennedy said this rifle might be the appropriate memorial to all his Marines killed.

    “Maybe if it was hung in the battalion area,” he said, “it would be a fitting memory to those four and the rest.”

  4. bluejay

    bluejay Well-Known Member

    Napoleon, Mo.
    Thanks for posting. What goes around comes around.
  5. 1sporticus

    1sporticus Active Member

    That is good news. Keep your head down boys and girls and come home to us. We miss you and pray for your safe return. Later Andy
  6. flathead willie

    flathead willie Well-Known Member

    I'd like to see more stories like that. I hope those boys get a medal or something.
  7. channelcat_tracker

    channelcat_tracker New Member

    thanks for sharing with us. makes us appreciate our freedom a bit more than anything! :smile2: :smile2: good job marines and keep it UP!:smile2: :smile2:
  8. IL Hunter

    IL Hunter New Member

    Normal, IL
    Great post. I too would like to hear more good stories like that.
  9. blackhorse83

    blackhorse83 New Member

    I agree thats a great post and not near enough of that kind of new is heard about, Thanks for posting!!