The Thousand Yard Stare

“Good will, begets good will”….George Bush

By John Simeone

          Since the invention of the firearm, one of the most dreaded words uttered on the battlefield is, Sniper. Every Army has them but for different reasons. During the revolutionary war one of my ancestors invented the first breech loading musket, the Ferguson Rifle. They are always the most elite of sharpshooters, the best of the best and so was Ferguson who drew a bead on George Washington and could have had an easy shot, but refused to fire as the British protocol was not to shoot officers.

         The Americans, on the other hand, had a different code of ethics which still stands today. The opposing officer is the high value target of the American Scout Sniper, as well as equipment like Scud Missiles, as one clean rifle shot can be so important as to change history. While the proper use of the sniper’s talent is a battle field multiplier, imagine if Ferguson (on my mother’s side of the family) had taken the shot at George Washington, perhaps today we would actually be speaking English.

          But there is a dark side to the Sniper’s mystique, in that under the wrong leadership it becomes a heinous instrument of terror. This can backfire and stir the opposing force into a hornet’s nest of retaliation, as in the instance of Ernie Pyle the famous WWII correspondent that was killed by a sniper. But the worst was yet to come.
There was a famous sniper dual between Ziesteve (Russian) and Koenig (German) at the Battle of Stalingrad in which the two greatest snipers of WWII faced each other in a deadly match of wits. This inspired the movie “Enemy at the Gates.” Then in Vietnam rose more sniper legends like Carlos Hathcock, the Arkansas squirrel hunter known as “The White Feather” who made a quick shot on a Viet Cong Sniper who was aiming his rifle at Hathcock at the same time, in a deadly “Mexican stand off”. Hathcock’s bullet, at a distance of 78 yards, went right down the scope of the other rifleman and into his eye. Hathcock said later, “I fired at the glint of his scope, didn’t even touch the sides.”

          That brings us up to the present day. What I’m about to tell you is very graphic and not for everyone, but it needs to be told and seen by some. One only needs to go on the internet and Google up the words “Iraqi Sniper.” There you will see the worst of terrorism as if the Devil himself made these videos. The terrorist sniper has no protocol, only an easy target. I watched shot, after proud shot, as the excited commentator gave a blow by blow description as each American Soldier was gunned down in complete surprise; my trained military eye told me none were above the rank of sergeant. The one sniper in the video claimed over 100 kills.

         That’s was when Colonel Mohammed Al-Samarae had quite enough, now the sniper had made himself a high value target. Acting on his own accord, Mohammed hunted, “The Hunter” an Iraqi sniper who had 17 confirmed American Kills, however by the looks of the video I’m afraid it was a lot more. My good friend, who is now a Brigader General, personally collected the rifle of this monster. I recognized it as a Styer Mannlicher, an Austrian made rifle that I know personally (because I own one) as the most accurate rifle in the world. I thought out loud to Mohammed, “How in the hell do they get such a weapon?”

          The General just shook his head and looked into space with something I’ve seen before and Ernie Pyle wrote about, “the thousand yard stare.”  I then learned the rest of the story while looking at actual combat footage of General Mohammed in action. Mohammed and his followers had long since told Sadam to go to hell in hopes he would anticipate the trip. These true unsung heroes of the Gulf War are members of the Free Coalition Iraqi Forces, and believe me when I tell you, THEY ARE ON OUR SIDE.

          You can compare General Mohamed with a few more members of history. One would be Wyatt Erp at the OK Corral. I actually saw the General walk right down the middle of the street with a camera man in hot pursuit. With guns blazing on all sides, he personally picked off bad guys with an M-16 rifle, and never took cover. This reminded me of the Great War Chief Geronimo, who was never captured and never wounded. Mohammed was car bombed 11 times and ambushed 64 times, so perhaps a little of the luck of Geronimo over hangs this good soldier. He said, “Hey John, here, feel of my cheek,” I hesitate but he insisted. Just under his left eye was a piece of shrapnel that needed no video confirmation.

          During one of these daring raids he rescued Douglas Wood, an Australian contractor, who was held captive by the terrorist under the threat of death for six weeks prior to the rescue according to the Sydney Conservative news paper. However in reprisal of the rescue, Zakawi, then the leader of Al Qaeda, put a two million dollar bounty on Mohammed, and vowed to cut him in 40 pieces.

          But like a poor marksmen, he kept missing the target, sending his henchmen to go after the family. The most horrific story was when Mohammed’s 7 year old son was playing in the yard and found something. He took it into the living room and said “I have found grandfather,” innocently displaying his head.

        That was enough it was time to leave the country. Mohammed, his family and some of his closest soldiers, sought asylum in allied countries. Australia was very slow to act, so Mohammed came to the United States.
He and his family are now safe and like all the other immigrants that have come here, he earned his right of passage. Yes, Mohammed saved American soldiers over there too, and in bloody mayhem many of his men were killed. The US Army awarded him the Army Commendation Medal for his valiant efforts. Scratching my head, I thought to myself, “I have three or four Arcoms for sitting around an MP Station twiddling my thumbs,” but who is to question Uncle Sam.

          I figured this old outdoor writer could do better than that and make this new American feel more at home with his new brothers. So we had a little pool side Bar-B-Q and through some Venison Back strap on the grill. Remembering that all Generals should carry a side arm like General Patton, I went to my collection and came up with the applicable award.

          As his colleges looked on, I told the story of the Louisiana Bowie Knife and how Jim Bowie from Marksville fashioned the weapon from the idea of the Spanish Navaha and the Iraqi Scimitar. Well when I said Scimitar, this formed a new coalition of brothers in arms. I quoted the words of Jim Bowie who told Davy Crockett at the Alamo, “You can tickle a man in the ribs all day with this, and you still won’t make him laugh.” To tell you the truth General Mohammed liked the gift so much he won’t take it off. Later he came to me and put his hand over his heart in an eloquent gesture and said “God bless you John,” I returned the gesture and said “God bless you to, General Mohammed.” Pass it on.

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