Sunday, January 22, 2006

The shot not heard around the world

This little tidbit is a few years old, but I had not heard of it before and suspected many others were equally unaware.

In 2002, a Canadian sniper in Afghanistan set a world record for a sniper shot under combat conditions – an astonishing 2,430 metres ( one and half miles!). This broke the previous record which had stood for 35 years held by U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock during the Vietnam war.

The five-man Canadian sniper team was attached to the US Army’s 187th ”Rakkasan” brigade. A three-man patrol consisting of two Canadians and an American spotted an al-Qaeda fighter walking on the road. The Newfoundland corporal’s first shot blew away a bag the fighter was carrying. The second shot killed the fighter.

US General Warren Edwards recommended all five members of the sniper team for Bronze stars (two of them being Bronze stars with distinction), a decoration for bravery. But in a bizarre act could only happen in Canada, Ottawa demurred citing “Canadian protocol”. Ottawa hasn’t had a problem in the past – in the first Gulf War the US awarded Bronze stars to two Canadian pilots. It’s speculated that Ottawa was squeamish about letting the Canadian public know that our soldiers actually kill people. Personally, I think Canadians are a little more realistic than Ottawa gives us credit for.

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