While many view snipers as the hidden (safe) threats in war based on their forays in First Person Shooter video games and movies like Saving Private Ryan and Enemy at The Gates, the fact of the matter is that snipers like any other soldiers in war are very susceptible to danger – especially in the case of Sergeant Ed Eaton’s brave protection and rescue of comrade in arms Major Mike Perkins when he had fallen injured in a night assault during the Vietnam war 1969.
Mike and Ed were part of a helicopter night mission when the Viet Cong shot down the chopper resulting in most of the men injured with near fatal wounds. Mike got the worst of it being pinned down under the helicopter and unable to get out. Now remember that at this time the men were still under attack and Ed Eaton in his own words said that he had the least amount of injuries and felt it necessary to protect his fellow soldiers.
One Man versus Two Armies
Climbing atop the wreckage and using a combination of his busted sniper rifle and an M16, Ed used the Sniper’s night sights to spot two separate groups of Viet Cong descending upon them at up to 500 meters. Ed traded shots with the groups without hesitation to consider how open he was to their return fire but it was enough to slow their descent upon his location. The use of the two guns made the enemy believe that Ed was more than one man and after he got a gist of the flaw in his sniper rifle, he adjusted to its aim and began taking guys out one at a time.
When a pair of helicopters came through to rescue the men, Mike whose injuries were too much for the ride opted to stay and was given a grenade for suicide in case of capture. The choppers were about to leave when Ed asks to remain with his comrade because he did not want him dying alone out there with no hope for survival. The pair were left there on the battlefield with Ed holding off even more soldiers with limited ammunition as they descended upon him from their positions.
Thinking himself left for dead, Ed told Mike that the last two bullets were for himself and the injured friend but was rescued before it came down to that decision. Ed Eaton described his rescue on the commentary for the book Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam, by Michael Lee Lanning, on the website HistoryNet.com:
“In reference to the Hist channel story and as to how Maj. perkins and myself got out. Our Bn. Commander came in later. We thought for sure we were left alone but thank God; only thought it. I caught a ride on a Cobra that took me to a rice pattie where I was later picked up by a Dustoff.
As to Awards for this action. Mike while in a hosp. in Japan requested action to be taken on this matter. Our Bn. was in the process of leaving VN and I’m sure that in that hectic situation the paperwork was lost.” – Original Comment here
I’m just an idealistic civilian but in terms of what I know about a Congressional Medal of Honor and the fact that Ed not only protected multiple men with no thought of his own life as he stood ground against invaders using multiple bullets from his broken guns, I am pretty damn sure that he is long overdue for his. Still this is not my call and I have the utmost respect and awe for a man that could black out and accomplish such a feat in saving multiple lives in the worst of circumstances and the fact that he and Mike Perkins are still alive to recant the tale.
If you want badass, how about a guy that can hold toe with an army using a broken sniper rifle and the cover of night? Not badass enough? How about the fact that he elected to stay behind to protect the last man injured from the invading horde? Ya that’s more than many of you could ever argue for the term badass and Ed Eaton is definitely it.
Want to contact Ed and thank him personally for his service? Visit his website at EdTheSniper.com and show him some love. Thanks for reading.
I learned about Ed from The History Channel’s Sniper: Deadliest Missions, it was a great show that presented some really epic shots made by snipers from every walk of life.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.