On Saturday, August 10, a Marine Raider was killed in action during combat operations in Iraq. Gunnery Sergeant Scott A. Koppenhafer, a Critical Skills Operator (CSO) assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion (2nd MRB) was fatally wounded while providing combat support to Iraqi Security Forces.
In a press release, the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) stated, “It is with heavy hearts that Marine Forces Special Operations Command announces the death of a Marine Raider following injuries sustained during combat action in Iraq…our most sincere thoughts are with the family and teammates of Gunnery Sergeant Koppenhafer during this difficult time. MARSOC is providing care and support to Gunnery Sergeant Koppenhafer’s family; we urge respect for their privacy as they grieve this incredible loss.”
Gunny Koppenhafer joined the Marine Corps in 2005. He served as a machine-gunner and scout sniper with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines and had two deployments with the 31st and 11th Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU). In 2009, he attempted and successfully passed the arduous Assessment and Selection (A&S) and Individual Training Course (ITC) programs, from the latter he graduated as the honor graduate. Later in his career, Gunny Koppenhafer was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant for his actions during a deployment to Afghanistan (he deployed three additional times in the country). Last year, he was selected as MARSOC’s 2018 Critical Skills Operator of the Year.
His military awards and decorations are a testament to his character and skill. According to the Marine Corps, they include “two Bronze Star Medals with Combat Distinguishing Device, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat Distinguishing Device, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, one Humanitarian Service Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, four Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and six Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.”
In addition to the above awards, Gunny Koppenhafer was graduate of the following schools: School of Infantry, Mountain Survival Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE), Scout Sniper Course, MARSOC’s Individual Training Course, MARSOF Advanced Sniper Course, Basic Airborne Course, Military Freefall, MARSOF Heliborne Insertion/Extraction Techniques Master, and Military Combatant Diver Course.
Although the Islamic State has been officially “defeated,” pockets of resistance remain and continue to provide the Iraqi Security Forces with challenges. American and allied conventional and special operations forces are there in a support role.
Aged 35 at the time of his death, Gunny Koppenhafer leaves behind a wife and two children.