The first time I killed someone, I was in a place called Tora Bora. In a very short time, I had gone from being a shooting instructor in California to a Delta sniper being parachuted into the Afghan White Mountains to attack Al-Qaeda and try and find and kill a terrorist named Osama Bin Laden. A few months earlier a group of terrorists had flown passenger jets into the Pentagon and the two biggest buildings in New York City in what was later dubbed the 9/11 attack because it took place on September 11th. I know compared to the world we live in now this might not seem like a big deal but when it happened it was the largest attack ever on American soil and the worst terrorist attack in history. America had changed and we were at war.
Mitch and I were teamed up and sent in with a mixed Special Forces group. We had been there for a week and had come in contact with a few small outposts. If we came upon an encampment, Mitch and I and two other sniper teams would stay back from the attack and take position as high as we could.
I was used to the California weather. Here, it was bitter cold and the wind never stopped blowing.
“Shit. Fucking wind tunnel.” Mitch said to me. We were setting up at the entrance to a small cave overlooking a camp with a dozen men. We had left our unit about an hour earlier and had twenty minutes until the attack would take place. It was good to set up in the shade and since there were no decent trees, we would usually set up in a cave like this or in the shade of a boulder. I laid down, taking aim through the scope of my rifle and Mitch lay next to me with his spotting scope.
“This is no good. We should go back to that boulder down the hill.” Mitch said, shaking his head.
“No … no time. I’ve got a great view.” I said as I could see almost the entire camp clearly.
“Why would you set a camp in a gully like that?” Mitch said.
“Arrogance.” I said. “What’s the time?”
“Eighteen minutes.” He said. We waited. I could hear the second hand tick on my watch.
“You ready?” Mitch asked.
“Yeah … What do you mean?” I said as I saw through the scope one of the men getting into a jeep and trying to start it up. The cold must have been affecting it.
“Y’know.” Mitch said.
I knew what he meant. I had spotted for him three days ago and he had taken his first shots at a machinegun turret and taken out two men. It was his first kill and it was as thrilling and nerve-racking as we had expected. We were both still reeling from the 9/11 attack. We both wanted to get back at the bastards. I was ready.
“Yeah, I’m ready.” I saw the man in the jeep get out and open up the hood to start rummaging around inside.