Navy 'SEAL Team Six': Howard Wasdin Recalls Days as SEAL Sniper

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Normally, snipers operate in a spotter-sniper relationship. The spotter identifies, ranges the targets, and relays them to the sniper for execution. There would be no time for that on this op—we were engaged in urban warfare. In this environment, an enemy could appear from anywhere. Even worse, the enemy dressed the same as a civilian. We had to wait and see his intention. Even if he appeared with a gun, there was a chance he was part of a clan on our side. We had to wait until the person pointed the weapon in the direction of our guys. Then we would ensure the enemy ceased to exist.

There would be no time for makeup or second shots. Both Casanova and I wielded .300 Win Mag sniper rifles.

Through my Leupold 10-power scope, I saw a militiaman 500 yards away firing through an open window at the helos. I made a mental note to keep my heart rate down and centered the crosshairs on him as my muscle memory took over—stock firmly into the shoulder, cheek positioned behind the scope, eye focused on the center of the crosshairs rather than the enemy, and steady trigger squeezing (even though it was only a light, 2-pound pull). I felt the gratifying recoil of my rifle. The round hit him in the side of the chest, entering his left and exiting his right. He convulsed and buckled, falling backward into the building—permanently. I quickly got back into my scope and scanned. Game on now. All other thoughts departed my mind. I was at one with my Win Mag, scanning my sector. Casanova scanned his sector, too.

Another militiaman carrying an AK-47 came out a fire escape door on the side of a building 300 yards away from me and aimed his rifle at the Delta operators assaulting the garage. From his position, I'm sure he thought he was safe from the assaulters, and he probably was. He was not safe from me—300 yards wasn't even a challenge. I shot him through his left side, and the round exited his right. He slumped down onto the fire escape landing, never knowing what hit him. His AK-47 lay silent next to him. Someone tried to reach out and retrieve the weapon—one round from my Win Mag put a stop to that. Each time I made a shot, I immediately forgot about that target and scanned for another.

Chaos erupted inside and outside of the garage. People ran everywhere. Little Birds and Black Hawks filled the skies with deafening rotor blasts. I was in my own little world, though. Nothing existed outside my scope and my mission. Let the Unit guys handle their business in the garage. My business was reaching out and touching the enemy.

This wasn't the first time I'd killed for my country. It wouldn't be the last.

A few minutes passed as I continued scanning. More than 800 yards away, a guy popped up with an RPG launcher on his shoulder, preparing to fire at the helicopters. If I took him out, it would be the longest killing shot of my career. If I failed …

Copyright © 2011 by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin

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