I headed to the ready room and conducted a Pre Combat Inspection (PCI) on my gear, weapon system, and radio after our team had a look at the imagery of the proposed target building.  As it looked, all the buildings were of similar height in the neighborhood and we would have a difficult time obtaining the preferred advantage point that sniper teams thrive on.

We would need a place close to the target building, probably on the roof of a building similar in height.

Since we were heading out the door with an extra man–one who had many more years experience than me–I was given the job as the primary security man for our team. I would be tasked with the job of being the leading man in the element, and the one who would clear the roof before our team moved into place. After the leaders meeting and the briefing, we headed out to the vehicles and began our journey into unknown territory.

When riding inside of a steel cage such as a Stryker, one must find mechanisms to arrive mentally before hitting an enemy target. I enjoyed picturing myself on the range, watching the wind change, focusing on the fundamentals, squeezing the trigger and reliving the smell that a rife gives off right after it has fired. Then I would sleep. Kase would always wake me up 10 minutes before arriving at the target.

We stopped a few blocks short of the target to mitigate the presence of the turbo diesel engines. The ramp lowered and we moved out into that same familiar smell that all Iraqi cities seem to possess. The elements knew their places, positions, and commander’s intent. The HVT’s house was located in a neighborhood with houses arranged in long rows that were all back to back, two stories in height. The target house was in the middle of one of the long rows of houses and did not allow for easy access, except from the street-side of the building.

Our sniper team, along with the backside security, moved to the street located in front of the rear adjoining houses to the objective building. Fortunately, we located a house on the block that had no courtyard wall, which allowed us to gain roof access with our ladders.

As the lead man and primary security member of our team, I was the first man up the ladder. Once I reached the rooftop I quickly cleared the roof as other members of our team proceeded up the ladder. The first thing that I noticed was that I couldn’t see the target rooftop. The parapet wall that separated our position from the goal was over eight feet in height, neutralizing our availability to fight if necessary.

As the next member of our team was stepping on the rooftop, I heard the call, “We’re compromised, blowing the charge in three, two, one…” “Shit.”