American Sniper

|
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 12:01 AM

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from American Sniper, a book written by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

I looked through the scope of the sniper rifle, scan¬ ning down the road of the tiny Iraqi town. Fifty yards away, a woman opened the door of a small house and stepped outside with her child.

The rest of the street was deserted. The local Iraqis had gone inside, most of them scared. A few curious souls peeked out from behind curtains, waiting. They could hear the rumble of the ap¬ proaching American unit. The Marines were flooding up the road, marching north to liberate the country from Saddam Hussein.

It was my job to protect them. My platoon had taken over the building earlier in the day, sneaking into position to provide “overwatch”—prevent the enemy from ambushing the Marines as they came through.

It didn’t seem like too difficult a task—if anything, I was glad the Marines were on my side. I’d seen the power of their weapons and I would’ve hated to have to fight them. The Iraq army didn’t stand a chance. And, in fact, they appeared to have abandoned the area already.

The war had started roughly two weeks before. My platoon, “Charlie” (later “Cadillac”) of SEAL Team 3, helped kick it off during the early morning of March 20. We landed on al-Faw Pen¬insula and secured the oil terminal there so Saddam couldn’t set it ablaze as he had during the First Gulf War. Now we were tasked to assist the Marines as they marched north toward Baghdad.

I was a SEAL, a Navy commando trained in special operations. SEAL stands for “SEa, Air, Land,” and it pretty much describes the wide ranges of places we operate. In this case, we were far inland, much farther than SEALs traditionally operated, though as the war against terror continued, this would become common. I’d spent nearly three years training and learning how to become a warrior; I was ready for this fight, or at least as ready as anyone can be.

The rifle I was holding was a .300 WinMag, a bolt-action, pre¬cision sniper weapon that belonged to my platoon chief. He’d been covering the street for a while and needed a break. He showed a great deal of confidence in me by choosing me to spot him and take the gun. I was still a new guy, a newbie or rookie in the Teams. By SEAL standards, I had yet to be fully tested.

I was also not yet trained as a SEAL sniper. I wanted to be one in the worst way, but I had a long way to go. Giving me the rifle that morning was the chief’s way of testing me to see if I had the right stuff.

We were on the roof of an old rundown building at the edge of a town the Marines were going to pass through. The wind kicked dirt and papers across the battered road below us. The place smelled like a sewer—the stench of Iraq was one thing I’d never get used to.

“Marines are coming,” said my chief as the building began to shake. “Keep watching.”

I looked through the scope. The only people who were moving were the woman and maybe a child or two nearby.

I watched our troops pull up. Ten young, proud Marines in uniform got out of their vehicles and gathered for a foot patrol. As the Americans organized, the woman took something from beneath her clothes, and yanked at it.

She’d set a grenade. I didn’t realize it at first.

“Looks yellow,” I told the chief, describing what I saw as he watched himself. “It’s yellow, the body—”

“She’s got a grenade,” said the chief. “That’s a Chinese grenade.”

“S***.”

“Take a shot.”

“But—”

“Shoot. Get the grenade. The Marines—”

I hesitated. Someone was trying to get the Marines on the radio, but we couldn’t reach them. They were coming down the street, heading toward the woman.

“Shoot!” said the chief.

I pushed my finger against the trigger. The bullet leapt out. I shot. The grenade dropped. I fired again as the grenade blew up.

It was the first time I’d killed anyone while I was on the sniper rifle. And the first time in Iraq—and the only time—I killed any¬one other than a male combatant.

It was my duty to shoot, and I don’t regret it. The woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn’t take any Marines with her.