During the 2010 assault on Marja in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Cpl. Thomas Gibbons-Neff was the leader of a Marine Corps scout sniper team that came under fire from a Taliban sniper. The sniper, like others in the area, had proved surprisingly effective, and Corporal Gibbons-Neff’s team was ordered to flush him out. Ben Anderson, a journalist and filmmaker, accompanied the team on the assault. The two became friends, and the following is their joint account of the weeklong hunt for one sniper, told from their different viewpoints on the battlefield.
I hesitate to write this because it is a war story. Maybe not a war story of the likes that is told at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post, but a war story nonetheless. War stories can be filled with bravado and some truths; they almost always make the characters seem larger than life, as if those characters had a say in shaping the story. But they don’t. I know I didn’t.