by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Binion
May 30, 2019
“As a kid, it was something I wanted to do but I didn't just join the Marine Corps to be a sniper,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Caleb Neff, a Dayton, Ohio native, “but when the opportunity arose, I took it.”
February 19, 2019 - U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Caleb Neff, a Dayton Ohio native, with his sniper rifle in southwest Asia. Neff serves in a squad leader role with 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Central Command. (Photo by U.S Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Binion)
Among the inestimable slangs, acronyms, and backronyms, burrowed in every Marine's general vocabulary there are two titles reserved just for Marines in a sniper platoon ... 'HOGs' and 'PIGs'.
A HOG is a Marine who has completed the Scout Sniper School and earned the title of a 'Hunter of Gunmen' whereas a 'PIG' is a 'Professionally Instructed Gunman' who is attached to a sniper platoon but not officially taught at the school.
It is believed there is a bullet destined to end the life of every warrior, 'a bullet with a name on it'. A warrior in possession of his bullet will prevent it from ever being fired, therefore becoming invincible.
Historically, a PIG would retrieve the last chambered round from his first 'hunted gunmen' in order to become a HOG. Now, Marines that graduate the Scout Sniper School are presented a 'Hog's Tooth', a 7.62x51 NATO round, symbolizing their status.
Now, dubbed as a HOG, Neff serves in a squad leader role with 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Central Command; a force of roughly 2,500 Marines and Sailors equipped to respond rapidly to any crisis in the Middle-Eastern region by employing ground, aviation and logistics capabilities.
“Hardest part is the pressure. Everyone looks up to you as soon as you pass school,” Neff said. “You gotta' know a little about everything. You are the eyes and ears for the battalion.”
As a scout sniper, Neff is responsible for spotting specified adversaries and keeping the battalion tactical-decision makers up-to-date with vital information.
“If we need to be called out, we are ready to help anywhere in the CENTCOM AOR,” said Neff.
Because the battlefield is always changing, SPMAGTF-CR-CC relies on Marines like Neff and the abilities their fellow Sailors to instantly move at a moment's notice, at any given time, and anywhere in the Central Command area of responsibility.
“Sometimes, you literally just have to be ready to pick up and go,” said Neff.
As long U.S. forces are called to serve with the SPMAGTF-CR-CC, there is a need for skillsets like the ones Neff provides.
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