MARJAH, Afghanistan — The tension was obvious even before leaving the wire on a 6 a.m. patrol.
Everyone in the fire team I was traveling with knew that a sniper had ambushed a Marine patrol the previous day in the same area we were traveling. While making our way along one of the canals that cut through Marjah, everyone was nearly silent, on high alert.
We made a turn onto small, dusty road, with only the sound of boots crunching against dry rock cutting the air.
Then the sniper hit.
There was an intense crack and impact. A rifle round hit the road 10 feet in front of me. Instinct took over and I dove for cover with other Marines into the canal.
Chaos followed. There were shouts of, “Where did it come from!” and “Is everyone OK?!” I started my work — mostly to keep my mind occupied. I began shooting video of Lance Cpl. Michael Aguirre, who was closest Marine to me in the ditch.
Within seconds, he shouted, “Let’s go!” I didn’t know where we were going, but I figured he did. Running out in the open along a street when you know a sniper is out there is a humbling experience, to say the least.
Still rolling video, I looked to my left and saw Marines jumping a wall into a compound adjacent to where the sniper fire had originated. It was my turn, and not wanting to be a clear target, I heaved myself over the wall. I misjudged how far the drop was on the other side, but protected my cameras and hoped for the best. Fortunately for me, Lance Cpl. Jedadiah Davis was there to break my fall.
Finally, there was a bit of a relief. I was behind walls and had cover.
Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers did a quick security sweep of the compound as other Marines headed for the roof for a high position. I followed, and the Marines quickly had eyes on the Taliban fire team running through the tree line.
The Marines opened up and lit up the tree line with an M32 multi-shot grenade launcher, the 5.56mm M249 squad automatic weapon and M16A4 rifles. When they inspected the site, they found no Taliban killed.