CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq -- The 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon took sniper fire all day as they conducted a relief in place with 1st Mobile Assault Platoon.
As Lacey Springs, Ala., native Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes, antitank assault man, 3rd MAP, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, sat in the turret of his hummer watching his assigned sector behind his M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, it happened.
“We were doing a relief in place with [1st MAP] and had been taking sniper fire across the wadi all day,” Snipes, the 21-year-old, 2002 graduate of Brewer High School, said. “I was sitting in defilade, just my head above the turret when it felt like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat.”
The sniper had shot Snipes square in the side of his head, hitting him directly in his Kevlar helmet.
“I was in shock, I didn’t know what happened. I remember thinking ‘Am I still here?’” he said.
Snipes dropped down in the turret. It was at that point he realized he was, in fact, still with the living thanks to his helmet. While inside the cab of the hummer, another shot tore through one of the handgrips of his .50 caliber machine gun, partially shattering it. The sniper then began focusing on the vehicles tires.
After a moment, he composed himself and raised his 5-foot-11-inch frame back up into the turret to engage the sniper with his machine gun.
According to Cambridge, Ohio native 1st Lt. Jeremy S. Wilkinson, platoon commander, 3rd MAP, his platoon’s firepower and a 500-pound bomb from overhead air support eventually silenced the sniper.
Bradley Snipes’ life, though, was saved by his gear.
“I was really surprised. It’s supposed to be able to stop a 7.62mm round at long distances. Well, it did,” he said. “The gear works, don’t doubt it. This is proof.”
Currently, Snipes, who is a veteran of combat operations in Afghanistan, is trying to keep his helmet as a memento.
“I want to put it in a case with a plaque that says ‘The little bullet that couldn’t.’”