Somewhere in Afghanistan (neat sniper yarn)


February 7, 2003, 11:25 AM
Hitting the head of an RPG at 400 yards is pretty impressive.

Somewhere in Afghanistan by Josh Lehrman

Marine Scout Sniper Cpl. George Skandella set up with his spotter, Cpl. Mario Ortiz, for what he thought would be another quiet night in the hills just outside Kabul.

For some days troops in his unit had been harassed by rifle fire and RPG grenades launched by determined but poorly trained Al Qaida fighters. Fortunately no Marines had yet been killed and wounds inflicted had been rather minor in nature. But Lt. Col. Bob Hayes decided to take the fight to the enemy. He directed that several teams of scout snipers position themselves around the camp and gave them the green light to fire on anyone moving about the hills carrying a weapon.

Cpl. Skandella said "We had only been in position for about forty five minutes when Ortiz spotted three men about four hundred meters from the camp. Ortiz was using a new classified night vision device that is one of the innovations being tested in the hills around Kabul. "One was carrying an RPG and the other two had AKs (AK 47). According to the rules of engagement they were good to go" said Skandella.

The young marine from Akron, Ohio, sighted in on the man with the RPG and saw that he was ready to fire. Skandella said "I felt lucky and decided to aim for the RPG."

As Ortiz later explained "I had him in my sights also and knew that if George missed I would not".

Skandella fired and his round hit the RPG before the fighter could launch it. "We saw an explosion and heard the RPG go. His two Al Qaida buddies were no wheres around."

Later a patrol found the three Al Qaida fighters dead among the rocks.


"WE own the Day, WE own the Night, WE own it All!"

If you enjoyed reading about "Somewhere in Afghanistan (neat sniper yarn)" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
February 7, 2003, 11:30 AM
Good story, thanks

February 7, 2003, 11:37 AM
Somebody buy that Designated Marksman a beer for me!!!! That is one hell of a shot!!

February 7, 2003, 11:47 AM
Considering how much these guys train, I'm not really surprised that he could pull that off. Hitting a RPG at 400m isn't exactly difficult for those guys. I am, however, quite impressed. Nice shootin'.

February 7, 2003, 01:17 PM
A three-fer! Beauty!:evil: :evil: :evil:

rock jock
February 7, 2003, 02:24 PM
Hmmm. Depending on the angle, the RPG greande might have only presented itself as four-inch target, bobbing around on the shoulder of a nervous terrorist. Not sure why he chose to pick that shot instead of something a little more reliable, like COM. Also, I thought that grenade rounds were essentially inert until fired. Anyway, excellent shot.

February 7, 2003, 03:08 PM
It must have been a defective warhead. They dont blow up when you shoot them. They are filled with a plastic explosive and it takes a detonator to set it off. There are actually two inside the RPG, one in the nose and one at the top of the rocket motor. The one on the tip of the rocket of course detonates the warhead when it properly stikes a target (I say properly because it spin arms after 30m. If it stikes a target before then they oftern are broken and wont detonate even if they strike another target on ricochet). The one at the base of the warhead, or top of the rocket motor detonates the rocket in cases of a miss or if it were to get stuck in soft material, like an earthen bunker. Detonation in this case usually takes place after 1120m or about 4 seconds.

Nice story but I am betting it is an urban legend. Kinda like the Afghani that supposedly got shot with the SASR round in the head.

February 7, 2003, 06:36 PM
The story sounds to clean to be real.

Also - the reference to his classified night vision scope - to me, that is a classic writing device used in fake stories. Not too technical, just foggy enough to convince most people...

Apple a Day
February 7, 2003, 09:06 PM
At least the older ones had a piezoelectric detonator... deformation of the piezo crystal causes a current which sets off the detonator. I suppose smacking it with a round hard enough might set it off but I'd still put my money on urban legend.

February 8, 2003, 01:36 AM
If they use plastic explosive, I believe that stuff will detonate under high velocity impact.

February 8, 2003, 01:40 AM
They use plastic explosive in an rpg round?

February 8, 2003, 01:51 AM
I know a little bit about explosives. Uncle Sam taught me a bit. (MOS 12B)

Anyway, C4 (a plastic explosive), requires both heat AND pressure to detonate. To wit, lighting a brick of C4 on fire will not set it off. Stomping on a brick of C4 will not set it off. (Though it's a good to not get into the habit of setting explosives of any sort on fire, or stomping on them...) However, if you set it on fire and then stomp on it, you just lost yourself a leg!

TNT has different properties and I'm not quite as familliar with it. I do not think that impact alone can detonate it. It's more stable than dynamite and that's one of the main reasons we use it.

I don't know about the contents of an RPG projectile, so I couldn't tell you if shooting at it would detonate it or not.

February 8, 2003, 02:50 AM
Wouldn't heat be a byproduct of the kinetic energy
released on the rocket head?


Kahr carrier
February 8, 2003, 05:23 AM
Good Shooting.:)

February 8, 2003, 10:58 PM
This sounds like BS to me.

February 9, 2003, 06:24 AM
im no expert, but why would such a cheap, out of date weapon be using expensive high teck expolsives? i mean if they can afford/make C4 to put into them, surley they wouldn't be using those half wooden RPG's but instead things like 'stingers' or 'LAWS'


im guesssing urban legand buy some computer geek who only explosives he knows of are those he see's in the movies.


February 9, 2003, 12:27 PM
"TNT has different properties and I'm not quite as familliar with it. I do not think that impact alone can detonate it. It's more stable than dynamite and that's one of the main reasons we use it."

I have been reliably informed by my dad, (he used to be a blaster) that TNT will not detonate from being shot. Certain compositions of dynamite will, some won't.
I was unsure about the TNT myself. I only used it a few times in training, but I did get well acquainted with C-4. It was fun. :D
To think that we used to get paid for that......

BTW- I know a vietman vet who told me that he once stomped on C-4 that they were cooking with. Luckily, they weren't using much, so he just blew the heel off of his boot.

February 11, 2003, 08:14 PM
RPG's can explode when hit by a bullet (in the right spot) Just like M79 HE rounds will also explode. I saw a grenadier (carried M79 old term) disappear once when a AK bullet hit his bag of M79 rounds.
The really bad part was: I got the job after they found the M79, minus sights and a little scarred up. But that's another story.

But this was a true story, I posted the original back on (Focus on Freedom). I get occasional reports from Kuwait & Afghanistan.

February 11, 2003, 08:39 PM
40mm HE and HEDP rounds are spin armed and will not explode if shot. The detonator will destroy itself and not be able to inject the explosive from the detonator into the HE inside unless the round has spun and the pieces inside have been cleared out of the way opening the channel.

I am sorry, but as an Armorer for the Army and having dealt with these items a fair bit over the years, and having been to the courses for explosive ahndling and safety, this just not happen.

But to address your post a bit more, nobody in their right mind carries 40mm rounds loose in a bag. If that did happen he got what he deserved. He may as well used them to drive nails. The old rounds that were being issued at the time of the M-79 (it is still in service but it is not formally issued. Many units have them in their EP's, us at the 1/19th included) were skiddish at best.

I too get formal and back channel reports from Afghanistan and the PI. But I dont get much thru the Marine channels unless it was from one of the MEU's, but then again a team from a STA Platoon has to be from and MEU somewhere in Afghanistan. If you can let me know what STA Platoon they were from (I can probably check their bonafides thru the contacts we have in Pendelton with the names) I can try to verify the story.

Dont get me wrong, I am not calling YOU a liar. But I do think you have been had.

Gary H
February 11, 2003, 08:50 PM
poorly trained Al Qaida fighters

Oh ya, I've heard otherwise. A bad yarn at that..

February 11, 2003, 09:39 PM
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but that's exactly how we carried them.

You would be surprised how many rounds would fit into a demo pack bag - After we passed out the c-4 blocks, the bags they came in made great bags for carrying the rounds. I carried two bags of rounds - close to 100 rounds total through the jungles, and occasionally I would empty at least one bag and be well into the second. I did carry one bandolier of CS and sone flares. Ask any Marine in Vietnam about carrying alll that. We stayed out for months at a time and resupply during the monsoons was very sporatic

Luckily (??) after a month I carried a PRC-25 instead.

February 11, 2003, 10:47 PM
OK, OK. I am not going to get into a peeing match with you about the way you carried them, but I did ask my old man who was a 2 tour VN Vet, in the Marines. He never saw any of his guys carring them like that.

But back to the point, if you know the STA Platoon these guys are from I can either verify or rule this story another urban legend from Afghanistan.

February 11, 2003, 11:49 PM
Got to prove my point first with the M79 :neener:

It took a while to actually find someone IN THE FIELD with an M79 carrying the bag full of ammo. You can see some (still in cannisters) through the side of the bag. The other link is the actual 100 rd ammo bag.

I found all sorts of pictures of ammo vests !?! Wouldn't have caught me wearing one of them.

Anyway - back to the sniper team - whether it's a slightly exagerated version of a true story (I can believe hitting the RPG) or not is immaterial. This came in an email from a Marine in Kuwait, who ... etc etc. But this is entirely within the realm of the skills of a Marine Sniper. I have been in the field with them, and have seen kills of upwards of 1500+ meters! with a Remington 700 7.62mm bolt action.

It doesn't take high-tech to kill.

SSGT USMC 1969-1981
0311 8651 2531 0231 0239 267x 2659 & almost 8541 (missed final qual)

February 13, 2003, 01:55 PM
BS 2 me. against all sniper docterian to shoot @ something like that. "shoot percentage" !!!

the idea that it would explode on contact is rubbist 2.

February 13, 2003, 02:07 PM
I don't care if it's Barbra Striesand. I enjoyed reading it! :neener:

Bartholomew Roberts
February 13, 2003, 04:02 PM
Well here are some people who should know (Pat Rogers and Vinnie Palucci) and they seem pretty skeptical of the story:

February 13, 2003, 05:28 PM
The Al-Queda were 400 meters from the camp when they attempted to fire the RPG? What were they shooting at?

Can an RPG travel 400 or more meters?

Sounds like BS to me too.

February 13, 2003, 05:52 PM
I don't know if the story is true or not but about that link Bartholomew Roberts posted, no offense to bart but what a bunch of putzes! I've heard stories of over-zealous moderation but damn!! Disagree and they bounced him!
Don't step on their sacred cow or it's KAPUT!!

Makes ya appreciate some of the other places on the net don't it?

Bartholomew Roberts
February 13, 2003, 06:33 PM
no offense to bart but what a bunch of putzes! I've heard stories of over-zealous moderation but damn!! Disagree and they bounced him!

Yeah, its a shame they didn't fluff his pillow and give him a hug on the way out too. :rolleyes:

I mean after all this guys KNOWS people who can hit pie plates at 400m with a pistol on the range! Who are a senior Force Recon NCO and a Force Recon veteran/NYPD retired/Gunsite instructor to decide that his opinion shouldn't have equal weight?

February 13, 2003, 06:51 PM
Unless your one of the individuals in the post I was not refering to you as a putz first off.

Second, I don't give a rat's rear end WHO they are, slamming down someone who has a difference of opinion is the act of a childish, insecure mind plain and simple.

And I do thank you for letting me know who the individuals were, if that is the level of discourse from a Gunsite Instructor that removes one training institute from my list of places to recommend to others.

Simply put, in my opinion they acted like children. The fun part is this is just one persons opinion and carries just that much weight, no more no less.

February 13, 2003, 07:00 PM
Can an RPG travel 400 or more meters? Yep.

Effective range against stationary targets is about 500m, and about 300m against moving targets.

Mark D
February 13, 2003, 08:15 PM
IIRC, Soviet style RPG warheads need to have a protective cap removed from their detonator before they are launched. Otherwise they no go boom. I also remember that RPG gunners are admonished to, "not point the live round at your feet, or nearby obstruction. Lest they have a bad day." Something about no minimum arming distance.

Perhaps I'm not remembering correctly.

If one were to hit the detonator with a round after the cap had been removed???

February 13, 2003, 10:40 PM
They do have a minimum arming distance of about 30m. Thats why the bounce if they hit a target close to them (more often than not dis-arming them as it breaks the detonator).

I have checked with some guys over at the STA Platoon at Pendelton, and they dont have anyone so far that has turned up with those names.

I hope the new "secret" optics they are talking about are not the knock off US Optics that are (incorrectly) rumopred to be taking the place of the older "Urinal" optics on all Marine rifles. SOF's new editors and writers step on their PeePee once again. At least we can count on Dave to keep the facts straight (but thats another topic).

If you enjoyed reading about "Somewhere in Afghanistan (neat sniper yarn)" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!