General: More than 100 kills for some Marine snipers

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A scout sniper with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, is shown here last fall at Fort Pickett, Va., preparing for the unit's present deployment to Afghanistan. (Photo by Lance Cpl. John Merkley)

Earlier today, I hopped on the horn with Maj. Gen. John Toolan, commander of Marine forces in Afghanistan. We discussed a wide variety of issues for several forthcoming articles in Marine Corps Times, but there’s at least one piece that I wanted to report today.

Noting that the initial deployment of Marine tanks to Afghanistan was high-profile, I asked the general what the current unit downrange — Alpha Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. — is doing.

One answer: Helping Marine snipers lay insurgents to waste.

The unit is now partnered with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, deployed to Helmand province’s Musa Qala and Now Zad districts. A combat correspondent’s report earlier this summer said 2nd Tanks’ operations could be tedious and uneventful, but it’s not always that simple.

The tanks crews have combined with snipers from 3/2 to form a deadly combination, Toolan said. The long-range optics on the tanks have a range of up to four miles, and have helped Marine forces establish positive identification on enemy fighters at distance, clearing the snipers to fire.

“They’ve been highly effective,” the general said. “Just in the past 10 days, the tank and snipers teams have contributed to about 50 enemy insurgents killed, using the snipers as sharpshooters and the tanks for the surveillance capability. It’s really a great combo, and 3/2 is spearheading that.”

Toolan added a matter-of-fact estimate: “We have some snipers that probably have upwards of 100 kills,” he said.

If that sounds like a lot, it is — even for the best snipers. Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, the legendary Vietnam sniper, retired with 93 confirmed kills. He may have had dozens of others, but if Toolan’s estimate is accurate, it still means 3/2’s snipers have done some extraordinary work this summer.

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About Author

I’m a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

45 Comments

  1. Awesome! I can’t tell you enough how proud I am of my nephew who is a sniper and they have had the most confirmed kills in Afghanistan and Iraq war history! You go baby, that is what you are there for and doing a great job I might add! I always said when he was deployed, he is the “best of the best” and I “believed in his ablility” and I was right!

  2. Excellent job! Each one of those sniper successes potentially save American lives, including my son, who serves with the 3/2. Thank you, gentlemen!

  3. Vickie what is your Son’s name… is he in the platoon with 3/2? This platoon in the near 19 years I have been in is without question the best Sniper Platoon I have ever seen. The photo above is Cpl Matt Gearhart and the guy Gen Toolan is talking about is Sgt Richards however there are several others in the platoon that are not far behind his counts. It is once again the best platoon I have ever served with…

  4. This is amazing!!!! Im so proud of MY HUSBAND and his Sniper team!! They have done an EXCELLENT job this deployment!! It takes a brave mentally and physically stong person to do what these men do for this country!! Im so proud of them! Congrats Snipers of 3/2 for making history!!! Cant wait until you come home!! WOOOOO!!!!!!

  5. To everyone with the 3/2 and especially my son’s Sniper Team I want to say Thank You for all the sacrifices you have made to keep us safe here at home. Amazing what you have accomplished! SO PROUD!

  6. Jennifer Moomaw on

    I am proud of the 3/2 which my son is also part of but he is not a sniper, but it is great that the 3/2 Snipers and Alpha Company 2nd Tank Battalion is being recognized for their outstanding performance. Thank you for your amazing service guys and Marine Times for reporting!!!

  7. All of the 3/2 Marines and Corpsman will always be like my own sons! My son served 2004-2007 with 3/2- 3 deployments! 3/2 are awesome Marines and Corpsman! 3/2 family members are ONE ABOVE also!

    Stand Tall- Stand PROUD!

    Mama Lewie

    President

    America 4R Marines NP Organization

  8. Robert Cerveny, Jr. on

    People talk about Carlos and they no nothing of the miisions he was on. Anyone better than Carlos, I dont think so and I dont care how many racked up kills they have. It has been confirmed by the military that he had an additional 200+ kills that were not able to be confirmed as Charlie had a habit to take their dead back with them. Also, today you are not 30 or 40 miles by yourself in the enemy area with the cavalry ready to come. Carlos was tasked with killing generals and leaders way in the back. Carlos was like a LRRP unit in the back but he worked alone. Carlos also did not have the 50cal sniper rifle back then as we have now. So lets stop comparring snipers. In my heart as a disabled nam vet, they all are great no matter what the service branch. We are all AMERICANS and bleed red,white and blue.

  9. Robert, no disrespect was meant. I brought up Gunny Hathcock only to point out that if General Toolan’s estimate is correct, 3/2 has had a remarkable deployment. Some context was necessary.

  10. As a Marine Sniper in the 3/2 SSP I am going to squash some of the rumors floating around about this platoon. In no way is there a single sniper in this platoon that has remotely close to 100 confirmed kills. There are teams in this platoon that are coming close to those numbers but no one sniper has come close to that. As far as comparing us to Carlos Hathcock, there is nothing weve done out here that comes close to what he did in Vietnam. Everything weve accomplished here has been as a team and has been with the full support from our command. Thank you to the families for all of the support, youve helped more than youll ever know. See you soon

  11. dude – post your name, or your comments mean nothing. I think the remarks of a MSgt with the platoon are a tad more reliable than a “dude”.

    For the Viet Vets. My dad is one, and I have supported a whole bunch of Viet Vets in donations and opening my home over the years. My father is sitting here THRILLED to read that some young sniper(s) may break his kill record, or come close to it. More importantly, it appears that this particular sniper platoon, along with the tank unit may have come up with an entirely NEW way to be accurate, while risking fewer troop lives – and THAT is the really big news about this sniper platoon that seems to have caught the General’s eye and well as this reporter. My father thinks it is shameful that other Viet Vets would be sitting on this board wanting to tear down what is a great story, or some sniper(s) they do not even know because it isn’t “Hathcock”. He knew Hathcock, and I met him years ago – that guy would be thrilled at anyone even coming close to his record – much less beating it. That is what made him part of the Sniper Brotherhood. And like Hathcock, for every confirmed kill on any sniper, there are always more kills that go unconfirmed. Unconfirmed kills are never measured, so I am sure all of the snipers referenced her in the 3/2 have those as well.

    These wars are completely different. It is a shame to compare – but it is much more disgraceful to tear down our young heros, rather than praise them whether they broke a record or not.

    Get a grip.

    I am not thrilled at posting the name of snipers still in theater on any board. That should be the choice of the sniper(s) under discussion.

  12. mmm… your remarks are brilliantly said but I might add that based upon “dude” remarks he is actually a very reliable source; this photo was taken long before deployment and is the cover of the 2nd Marine Division website with name included… Robert Cerveny, Jr. these guys lost a close dear friend killed in country, Sgt Mark Bradley. They are a very proud platoon and a very close platoon… out of respect for Sgt Mark Bradley please if your going to down grade their accomplishments do it elsewhere. They have never compared themselves to Hathcock nor will they… the platoon itself is very disciplined and very humble.

  13. I agree with you – I don’t think I have ever heard any Sniper talk about anything other than WE. Not if they are really a Marine Sniper.

    Cool on the name… I am just always thinking about security from the old days. 🙂

  14. First – to the 3/2 Snipers – Oooh-RAH! You are AWESOME!

    To mmm – I agree with the Msgt. And, if “dude” is really with the unit, – then I would NOT want him to post his name for security reasons. (I agree with everything else you posted – it is sad when some just have to be negative in life).

    I don’t think dude was trying to run down the accomplishments of his unit as I think you may have originally interpreted his post. I think he was just trying to make sure everyone knew they consider their work to be a team effort – which is how these guys always roll. I think you just “saw” that because of the VERY rude comment before from Robert. I did too until I backed up again and re-read the post from dude after MSgts post.

    My family comes from generations of military across two branches, with each generation working hard to help their sons be BETTER than them. They applaud every time one of those young “whipper snappers” out-does them.

    Hathcock was an amazing Sniper – and Marine. He would have been cheering, not jeering if he read this news story. The author has nothing to appologize for in my book.

    Cheers!

  15. Concur, I think its one that all involved can be very proud of their accomplishments and it is a platoon that does pride themselves on team before self.

  16. As for all the other comments, what makes the differents you gets the most kills as long as it not any of our Marines. My son and his men are the best and I know that there has been other great Marine snipers. Let’s continue to keep them in our prayers untill they all come home. Keep the 6 guys and God bless. Love Dad and Mom

  17. This is one Mama that is more then proud to have a husband who was in the Marine Corp. and a Son who is now and is part of the above team and we are all proud of each and everyone of them, even the ones that have had to come home early because of being wounded they are the best in my book and pray that they can continue to make us all proud!

  18. Way to go, l’il brother, and the rest of 3/2 SSP TM1! This is one big sis who is proud of her brother, a sgt in the above group. It’s not so important the number of kills as the number of saves. For each insurgent taken out there are countless numbers of Marines, soliders, and sailors that are now serving more safely over there. Y’all get back safe and I think we can find some steaks to throw on the grill for you while you pass around your new neice who is enjoying the freedom you are fighting to protect. Love and prayers to y’all!

  19. It’s amazing how proud you all are for killing other humans. You are disgusting and false heroes. You will end up in hell for killing others.

  20. As an OLD Scout/Sniper from 3/2 (85-88) I can not tell you how proud I am of you. Semper Fi my Brothers. Be safe and God Speed.

  21. It’s easy killing someone from hundreds of yards away, hidden behind a thick wall, away from all the danger. How about real fighting, street warfare, hand to hand combat. Cowards!

  22. @#24, AlexSamson: Judge not, lest ye be judged. You, without sin, have cast your stone at the Marines and commenters through the tangled web of the internet, guess where you ammo will fall… on deaf ears. They just happen to propel their ammo with explosive powder and precision towards folks who are seeking to destroy them. Kill or be killed. Don’t you worry AS, they are being sent to Paradise as the Koran calls it, The Marines as you say will end up in hell, and you will end up with a nice surprise when you realize these are wars of religion and to your surprise there is no heaven nor hell on the other side.

    -Semper Fi, 3/4 (2004-2009)

    @#26, JCBush: Because bin Laden et al. have always sought to engage us in hand-to-hand combat! Oh ye coward who hides in the World Wide Web, come out face to face in the street and challenge these men to a fight. As a Marine, I’d just turn my shoulder and thank you for exercising your right to free speech, whose to say what other Marines would do with your clearly articulated and thought provoking banter. It’s easy to call someone else a coward when you hide behind a computer screen and troll. Why don’t you write your Congressman, otherwise, good luck streetfighting man.

    -Semper Fi, The Militant Pacifist, 3/4 (2004-2009)

  23. Hey Alex & JC…….This is War…..Were not the ones hiding behind Civilians and planting IED’s…..I think your on the wrong web site.This site is for the support of our servicemen and their families not your traitorous trash.If you don’t like the fact that these Marines are doing their job’s and protecting this country then you need to move. These are not humans there terrorist!!

  24. We are the United States of America and we should be the ones setting an example. Not cowards hiding and shooting from a mile away.. or 6000 miles if you consider drones!

    All the meathead jocks with nothing for brains that I knew in highschool enlisted in the marines. No surprise there. And before you call me a libtard or whatever, please know that I am a registered Republican. There is such a thing as a Republican who does not believe in constant useless war. But please keep praising your coward marines who shoot and duck from hundreds of yards away.

  25. I too am a Republican who knows that this country was founded with the Bible in one hand and a Gun in the other and vote for the right to bear arms because of people like you who are the real cowards that would bring our great nation down because you think you know what you are talking about and that is all you do is talk, try acting like a real man and maybe someone will take you serious because you seem to be the one that has no brains. If not for these brave men and women who give themselves and some have given their call just so you can have the freedom to write what you choose from your safe little world and don’t know or even care that if not for these Few and Proud men and women fighting for us our country would be another battle zone and then where and what would you be doing but crying for these same men and women to save you! So when you lay down at night maybe you should think about how nice it is to sleep in peace, and be thankful that there are really people out there that are willing to give up their lifes, so that we here can read and listen to people that try to make themselves sound like they know what they are talking about when all they are saying or doing is showing how little brains or knowledge they have of our freedom and this land we take for granted!

  26. Sorry forgot to state that my last comment was for what JCBush posted and any others that have nothing good to say about “The Few and The Proud” that some of us hold so dear to our hearts and homes. So tonight where ever you brave men and women are that are out there fighting for our freedom God Bless -Stay Safe-And Always Keep An Eye On Your Back Trail!!!!!!

  27. WINSTON MADRIGAL on

    I.E.D’s are real fair JCBush.

    Just keep enjoying your freedom and don’t worry there are lots of marines, soldiers, sailors and air men.

    That will continue to fight for your right to say whatever ignorant shit you want to spew.

    YOU FUCKING COWARD!!!

  28. FutureMarineMama on

    Love the article. Love reading the discussion thread so full of pride & praise for our USMC, Marine Snipers & tanks, troops working together, the accomplishments past & present!!! My heart is bursting!!

    OORAH!!! THANK YOU!!

    and MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE! HEROES, ALL!!

    So, I was enjoyin all I was reading until I read further down discover the discussion becomes like every other similar posting (wherever u find it- FB, military sites, USMC site- everywhere u look!)- there are always people who feel they have to spew their negativity and hatred, etc.

    PLEASE, if you don’t support our Troops or the jobs they do or what they stand for, then find other things to read elsewhere. Find someplace else to voice your opinions where other people share the same one. There really is no need to try to start an argument to try to bring focus on yourself and try to take the focus away from the Heroes that are being saluted for their accomplishments.

    I, for one, am VERY proud of our Marines, and EXTREMELY proud that my son’s goal is to be a Marine, in fact a Marine Sniper, upon graduation from High School- where he is very active in the Marine Corps JROTC program. OORAH!!!

  29. I cant believe the tanks are being used as a 62 ton telescope. Must have awesome optics! Keep racking up the TANGOS Devil Dogs!!!

    JC and ALEX…This is where REAL Americans post…You must have gotten this confused with FANTASY LAND where we can all hug and dance with each other. There is EVIL in this world and you can thank the likes of 3/2 for taking out the trash!

    As for cowardice on the part of the snipers…Ask the families of victims used as human shields by the T-Ban and AQ. Ask the IED victims. Ask combat troops ambushed by T-Ban wearing women’s garb. They seem to have a more clear/accurate definition of the term (coward) that you attempted to spew when describing the snipers.

  30. I hope they interview this Sgt that the Msgt referenced in an earlier post once everyone is back from their deployment. If that is allowed. This just sparks my interest on the lines of “What were they thinking?” – in a good way. I have never heard of using the tank sites like this before. I think it would be awesome to hear what was going through his and the team’s minds that had them think this up to begin with. And, what the tank devil dogs were thinking when they were recruited in to play. Definitely a story us armchair sniper aficionados would love to hear. Young, American ingenuity at it’s best in my book.

  31. I don’t know about the whole tanks thing..but I would have to say that the Engineers and the Snipers teamed up are the best thing since sliced bread.. without each other neither would have had as much fun on the deployment as they did..

    -Semper..

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  33. If you weren’t there with them then you don’t know anything more than what FOX NEWS tells you, therefor you don’t have the right to have an opinion that passes judgement on these men. You also have no right to say who is heaven or hell bound…Sleep peacefully tonight JCBush

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