Took me a while to get this one finished too. I spent most of the weekend hovering over a website called The Havok Journal, where I had two articles published (shameless plug).
My friends on facebook generally agreed with the points I made, while a majority of the readership on the Internet…did not. I think it’s because a majority of my facebook friends are of the infantry and combat arms genre. Anyway, go and see for yourself.
But I digress. Let’s talk about these two guys.
LCpl Patrick “Patty” Lorenzo, AKA “The Assassin” – Patty was on my team for a couple of months before some changes in the Shadow lineup were made for us, and thus he was moved to Shadow Team 1.
During his brief stay on my team, we didn’t really have that many extreme firefights, and our operation tempo was actually pretty slow. This means that, unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of first hand stories of him in combat, though he always did perform admirably. My memories of him are mostly from the training we did together prior to Afghanistan.I gave him the moniker “The Assassin,” not because he acted like that creepy bald guy with the bar code tattoo on his neck, but because when he was behind a rifle, he simply never missed. Ever seen the movie “Revolver?” He was like that dude named Sorter.
We both attended the SOTG Urban Sniper course in 2010, where he made me look bad on every shooting qualification. Urban Sniper is, by far, the most challenging shooting school I have ever attended (and I’ve been to a few). There are targets every 25 meters all the way out to 800 meters, ranging from a full IPSC to the size of my little baby hands. We shot off of sandbags, concrete walls, plywood barriers, bipods, and camera tripods. We shot through3’x5′ windows and loopholes the size of postage stamps. We were often sprinting, out of breath, and in full body armor. The bare minimum score for passing the qualifications was 80%, unless we were doing those quals where you only get one, count em one, shot.
To say it was difficult is like saying Neil DeGrasse Tyson might know a thing or two about a thing or two. At the end of the course, the instructors would add up each student’s scores to give him his average. Many of us hovered in the 80’s, and the good ones were busting into the 90’s.
Patty had a 99.5%.
That’s pretty doggone ninja, oorah?
Not this kind
Jedi shooting abilities aside, Patty was just an all around cool guy. I don’t really know how to quantify that except to say that he is one of those dudes who a man is usually really glad to have on his team. Usually guys as funny and happy as Patty tend to be unreliable or lazy in my experience, but Patty was always able to find the humor in a situation, and do it while finishing a necessary task he didn’t even have to be asked to do. Try that for a run-on sentence.
Having left the Marine Corps, he has since moved on with his wife and two children, and now works as a PMC in Afghanistan. He is almost done with his freaking Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice or some crazy government crap. This from the guy who once stood on his knees to watch the arc of his thrown smoke grenade. While getting shot at.
Patty was once asked by a French reporter (long story) why he chose sniping as a job. Patty looked him in the eye, somehow with a straight face, and dropped this bomb on him,
“I didn’t choose the job. The job chose me.”
Then, without breaking character or laughing, he turned around and walked away.
Into. The. Sunset. Literally.
Drop microphone, walk off stage.
Update 05 September 2015: Patty informed me that he has, in fact, three children. Trying to catch up to me, are ya?
Sgt Jason “Bason” Hall, AKA “The Mercenary” – Just like Patty, Jason was only on my team for a short time. Here’s the thing about Jason; he only has loyalty to those Marines he is in charge of. If you’re in charge of him, he really doesn’t care about you. Essentially, Jason was the kind of guy who would do what he had to (or wanted to) do for his Marines and himself regardless of consequences or possible ass-chewings. Even though he often frustrated those with higher rank, the things he did always had a tendency to work out for the best.
That’s why I thought of him as “The Mercenary.” He epitomized the stereotypical “cowboy sniper” that every 1st Sergeant has nightmares over, but every Lance Corporal and Corporal idolizes. He even had a tattoo of Deadpool on his shoulder, and that “Merc with a mouth” seemed to be his role model.
He had a very calm nature in a fight, combined with a characteristic unpredictability. He had been in the same infantry battalion for years, and had done deployment after deployment after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan during some of the heaviest fighting in both countries. His time back in the US seemed to be simply a lull between going to his real home in a combat zone. I never saw him develop many personal attachments, and I always pictured him getting out of the Marine Corps to be a Private Military Contractor, just so he could keep deploying to combat zones forever. A true war dog.
When our deployment started, the Scout Sniper platoon had two Sergeants running the show; Sgt Dustin Hill as the platoon commander and team leader of Shadow 1, and myself as the platoon sergeant and team leader of Shadow 2. In late June of 2010, buth of us suffered injuries and were sent home to recover, leaving one guy to run both teams. All this happened right as the battalion was getting ready to occupy and destroy a little place in Afghanistan called Sangin. Seriously, Google Sangin. Jason took the reigns and ran with it throught the most dangerous fighting of the deployment.
Consider the following numbers; Up until Jason took over, our 16 man platoon had a little over 20 enemy kills under our belts, which isn’t too shabby for three or four months of work. By the end of the deployment, the 800 man battalion had killed about 500 enemy fighters. Under Jason’s leadership, almost 300 of those kills were from that little 16 man Scout Sniper Platoon.