Written by my brother, whom I adore, love, and is my biggest hero:
The crosshairs of my 50-caliber sniper rifle slowly move up and down the temple of my target 450 yards away. Before I wipe the sweat from my brow with an old, dirty sock I check my watch--the time is 11:17 am. I have been sitting on hill 517 Echo for 2 days now, hot as hell, starving, and my mind is starting to wander. I check my scope, then adjust two clicks to the right to make up for windage. I place my finger on the trigger. A conglomeration of thoughts floods my head and I began my internal struggle: can I really kill this man?
I began to compose a letter in my head, the letter that will tell my family about my heroism:
Ha! I got one of those fucking ‘rag heads’ today. A 500 yd shot--his head exploded like a watermelon. All of this sniper training has paid off and your little brother is finally making these assholes pay for 9-11. I miss you guys a lot. Maybe I can bring you home an ear necklace…hahahaha. Tell everyone I love them and I’m making them proud.
Love ya, Shawn”
As I peer through the scope it hits me, does this guy I’m about to kill have a family? What kind of letter will his sister get? Does he have a wife? Kids? I don’t want to kill a family man. I want to kill a terrorist. How in the hell can I tell from 450 yards away? The truth is, I can’t tell, and my struggle begins to deepen.
I sit there, methodically drawing figure-eights on my victim’s temple with my crosshairs. I can feel the rosary in my breast pocket pushing into my chest, and it immediately brings thoughts of religion into my dilemma. How can I, a church going Christian, kill a man? A man that I have no idea has committed a wrong? Will I burn in hell for all of eternity, or is this the exception to the rule? I pray fervently for my salvation, and click off the safety on my rifle.
I correct for windage with one more click. I begin to think of what I will tell people when I get home. Will I tell them that I killed people? How will I explain to my children the difference between myself and a murderer? I don’t know if I can live with this for the rest of my life. The thought of killing coming easier after the first time scares me, and my sniper-mind begins to wonder: If I can kill a stranger, how easy would it be to kill someone at home? How pained will my mind be? I don’t know if I can live with myself if I go through with this.
I try to push the thoughts from my head as I peer down on my target. Death, dead, not living—this is the end for this man. His life and mine will be greatly changed. I check my watch one more time—11:18. I wonder, "Will the next time be easier?" I pull the trigger.