Last week, Marine Corps Times outlined how the deaths of four Marines in Afghanistan in a one-month period were under investigation.
It looks like an explanation may be emerging for how one of those deaths occurred.
A Marine sniper was killed in combat Oct. 6 when a tank platoon mistook Lance Cpl. Benjamin Schmidt and other Marines for enemy forces, Schmidt’s father said he was informed. The story was reported by the San Antonio News-Express, which is based in Schmidt’s hometown.
From the story:
Although a military investigation has not been completed, Schmidt said the Marine, who is stateside, told him that Benjamin Schmidt died while his platoon was engaging the enemy in a firefight on a ridge in Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province.
“What I’ve been told is that a tank platoon came upon them, mistook them for the bad guys and opened fire on the entire platoon. And that’s how Benjamin died,” he said.
Schmidt was a member of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, which deployed from Camp Pendleton, Calif., to Helmand province’s Musa Qala district this fall. It’s not clear what kind of he may have been hit with. The M1A1 tanks deployed in the Musa Qala area alongside 2/4 are typically armed with a 120mm smoothbore cannon, a .50-caliber machine gun and two 7.62mm machine guns. It’s hard to believe that if Schmidt was hit with a cannon round, others in the platoon wouldn’t have been killed.
In September, Maj. Gen. John Toolan, commander of Marine forces in Helmand, highlighted the success snipers were experiencing while working with tank platoons to target the insurgency in the Musa Qala area. The long-range sights on the tanks helped the snipers establish positive identification on enemy forces, the general said.
Marines with 2/4 replaced 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. in Musa Qala, and have been operating alongside Lejeune’s Alpha Company, 2nd Tank Battalion. It wasn’t clear they were involved in this incident, but they have remained deployed in that area.