Afong, Milo S.
Afong, Milo S.
Education: Graduate of First Marine Division's scout/sniper school.
Joined U.S. Marine Corps, 1999; served with Second Battalion, Fourth Marines scout/sniper platoon, until 2003; scout/sniper team leader with the First Battalion, Twenty-third Marines, 2003-05.
Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with the Combat Distinguishing Device.
HOGs in the Shadows: Combat Stories from Marine Snipers in Iraq, Berkley Caliber (New York, NY), 2007.
Milo S. Afong saw action in the Operation Iraqi Freedom as leader of a scout/sniper team with the U.S. Marines, an assignment for which he received numerous medals. The mission of snipers, as noted on Afong's Web site, "is to take out the enemy—one combatant at a time," shooting to kill, not to disable. Afong graduated at the top of his class from the First Marine Division's scout/sniper school, then went on to his tour of duty in Iraq, which he chronicles along with other marines' experiences in HOGs in the Shadows: Combat Stories from Marine Snipers in Iraq.
HOG, Afong explains, stands for Hunter of Gunmen, the title coveted by aspiring scout/snipers. Becoming a HOG is difficult, Afong relates, and in his book he details the process. "Because a marine has no training as a sniper, during indoctrination he is known as a SLUG, an acronym for Slow, Lazy Untrained Gunman," Afong reports. Those chosen for a scout/sniper platoon, he notes, are given "the honorable name of PIG, meaning Professionally Instructed Gunman. The name explains that the marine is worthy to receive the training to become a sniper." The few who pass the rigorous program become HOGs, "the only one of the three designations to be considered a marine scout/sniper," Afong writes. Those who fail often do not get another opportunity to attend scout/sniper school, he says.
Once in the field, a HOG may spend only about one tenth of his time sniping, as his duties also include clearing away explosives and performing other support tasks for his unit. Sniping, however, is the focus of Afong's book, which features his first-person account of a sniper operation and the tales of eleven others in such cities as Baghdad, Fallujah, and Ramadi, ranging from a newly trained sniper's first shooting of an enemy to his own unit's last mission. He provides graphic descriptions, such as a man's head being blown off and dogs feeding on dead bodies.
"Afong offers plenty of machine-powered gore," remarked a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who added that the book gives "the impression that men indeed relish going to war" and that "hunting provides gratification" to HOGs. According to Afong, however, HOGs have a key job to do, and as his Web site put it, they "get the job done under any conditions" and without regret. As he writes of one soldier in the book: "He was glad to finally complete what he was trained to do, kill the enemy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Afong, Milo S., HOGs in the Shadows: Combat Stories from Marine Snipers in Iraq, Berkley Caliber (New York, NY), 2007.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2007, review of HOGs in the Shadows: Combat Stories from Marine Snipers in Iraq.
Milo S. Afong Home Page,http://miloafong.com (July 14, 2008).