JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A reconnaissance Marine who graduated at the top of his Marine Corps sniper class has found an insurmountable challenge in the most unexpected place – Coast Guard sniper school, sources confirmed today.
Sgt. Charles Handcock, a 28-year-old Arkansas native, failed to successfully complete the school for the Coast Guard's Precision Marksman Observer Team (PMOT) a total of three times and is now being given a fourth opportunity to complete the program.
“I know I have what it takes to measure up to these guys,” said Handcock. “But this course is the most challenging thing I have ever experienced in my entire military career.”
During the intensive 3-day course, trainees are taught basic precision techniques, including shooting from a prone position inside of a helicopter and how to shoot engines on maritime vehicles.
“It’s highly unusual for anyone to have difficulty with this course,” said Lt. John Ellsworth, commanding officer of the precision marksmen training program. “It’s clear that little fella is trying really hard, so we take pity on him and let him keep trying. But we just don’t compromise on standards in the Coast Guard. This isn’t the Army.”
Handcock reportedly had 93 confirmed targeting failures, which disappointed his classmates.
“All we really do is practice shooting boat engines,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Emmitt Jones. “It really just ain’t that hard. This guy is simply not ready for dangerous missions close to shore. We want the guys who are ready to risk it all in U.S. ports and on calm territorial waters. We just aren’t seeing that level of dedication from this Marine.”
School officials announced they will allow Handcock to make another three attempts to complete the program. He will be sent back to his unit if he fails those attempts but can reapply after a mandatory one-year waiting period, which will provide him an opportunity to bring his skills on par with the Coast Guard's high standards.
“Maybe he would do better sticking to Marine Corps spec op schools,” Lt. Ellsworth added. “They are more in line with his abilities and skill level.”