When Sgt. Dan Mills and the rest of the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment flew into Iraq in April, 2004, they were supposed to be winning hearts and minds. They were soon fighting for their lives.
Within hours of their arrival in Iraq, a grenade bounced off one of the battalion’s Land Rovers, rolled underneath and detonated. The ambush marked the beginning of a full-scale firefight during which Mills killed a man with a round that removed his assailant’s head. It was going to be a long tour.
Like some post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” nightmare, the place had gone to hell in a handbasket. Temperatures on the ground often topped 120 degrees Fahrenheit, sewage systems had long since packed up, and the stench of cooking waste and piles of festering garbage grew wherever you looked. Throat-burning winds, blast bombs and well-trained, well-organized militias armed with AKs, RPGs and a limitless supply of mortar rounds were the icing on the cake.
If any of Mills’s eighteen-man sniper platoon had thought that the people of Al Amarah were going to welcome them with open arms, they were rapidly forced to reconsider. For the next six months, isolated, besieged and under constant fire, the battalion refused to give an inch.
Sniper One is a breathtaking chronicle of endurance, camaraderie, dark humor and courage in the face of relentless, lethal assault.
We first heard we were going on a rainy November morning in Tidworth.
The battalion’s brand new CO got up in front of the lot of us to announce it. His very first words to us were: ‘Good morning. My name is Lieutenant Colonel Matt Maer. I’m your new Commanding Officer, and in twenty weeks’ time we’ll be deploying to southern Iraq.’
It was the normal overly dramatic crap new officers come out with, because they hope we’re impressed by it. It worked though – we were. We were going to Iraq.
By the time we’d get out
"One of the best first-hand accounts of combat that I've ever read." --Andy McNab