Expert Marksman killed in first gunfight

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Sgt. Marc Harper, top marksman in Alpha Company, was killed three days ago by enemy fire during a gunfight in southern Afghanistan, the Army has announced.

Witnesses report that although Harper expended his entire combat load of 210 rounds, he was unable to hit the enemy fighters who engaged him while moving just beyond 300 meters and moving slightly from side to side.

“I’m just in absolute shock,” said Pvt. Maurice Kennedy. “[Harper] was the best shot in the company. He was always chosen by the commander to lead pre-marksmanship instruction for the new soldiers.”

According to others in the unit, Harper had never deployed before, but always emphasized the importance of proper shooting technique.

“He always shot a 40 out of 40 on the range,” explained Harper’s platoon leader, Lt. Mark Thompson. “He hung back to check on our exfil route when we got hit. I was worried until I realized it was Harper.

“At that point we were all just excited to see what he could do in his first gunfight. How could I have known what was going to happen?” he sobbed.

The official report of the incident states that Harper spent almost 30 seconds laying the in prone and breathing deeply before returning fire. After expending an entire magazine with no effect, he assumed a kneeling position and continued to fire individual shots that kept falling well short of their intended targets.

“He seemed most confused when the enemy would duck down, then reappear in a different location and shoot back at him,” Kennedy added sadly. “None of us could believe he’d miss that badly. By the time we realized the guy actually had no idea how to shoot in combat, it was too late.”

Sources in Alpha Company state that Harper received his fatal injury while crawling around in the open shouting loudly for a sandbag or a large rubber mat. The Army is reportedly planning to send Harper's company back to the target range for "remedial training."