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.
Don’t think that the fact that Marine snipers took out the guys with the rifle isn’t important to the Marines.
Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker said the news of recovering the weapon “sends a chill down my spine.” He is a 20-year sniper and was the battalion’s sergeant major during its deployment in 2004. He knew the four 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.
Some Marines would like to see the weapon used as a memorial to the 35 men the battalion lost in the war. Others think it should go back into action to get revenge of its own.
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